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Central Washington University

Two CWU Men’s Basketball Players Earn National Academic Recognition

Two Central Washington University men’s basketball players, Mark McLaughlin and Joey Roppo, have been named to the 2013-14 National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Honors Court. The prestigious recognition acknowledges men’s college basketball student-athletes who excelled in the classroom during the past season.

“It’s a great honor and we couldn’t be more proud of them,” said Greg Sparling, CWU men’s head basketball coach. “Mark graduated in the spring and Joey’s on track to graduate, which is the most important thing, after his playing career.”

In order to qualify for the Honors Court, a student-athlete must:
• be a junior or senior, academically, and a varsity player;
• have a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.2 or higher at the end of the 2013-14 academic year;
• have spent at least one year at their current institution; and
• be a member of an NCAA Division I, II, III, or NAIA Division I or II institution with a NABC member coach.

Roppo, a junior from Monroe who is majoring in information technology and administrative management, has a cumulative 3.3 GPA.

“I’m ecstatic that I won this award,” he said. “It makes me happy that all of my hard work is paying off. I’ve always taken my academics pretty seriously. It’s something my parents ingrained in me.” 

McLaughlin, from Bothell, was the leading scorer in NCAA Division II this past season, averaging 27.1 points per game, and was named a Daktronics All-American. He received his CWU degree in sociology in June, also recording a cumulative 3.3 GPA.

“I wanted to show people I was more than just an athlete and that I could get it done in the classroom as well as on the court,” said McLaughlin. “When you’re a student-athlete, student comes before athlete. That’s what coach Spar and all the coaches stressed—to work hard in both areas.” 

Sparling pointed out, “Whether it’s study tables, grade checks, or getting them any extra help they need, we do everything we can to give our players opportunities to excel in the classroom.”

Sparling, an NABC member who nominated his players for the award,
expects his Wildcats will continue to receive NABC Honors Court awards in the years to come.

“When our other guys see the exposure they [McLaughlin and Roppo] will receive from this year’s awards, it will give them motivation and the understanding that there are awards other than just for basketball,” Sparling added. 

Media contact: Robert Lowery, CWU Department of Athletics, 509-963-1487,

July 21, 2014

Photo: McLaughlin (left) and Roppo (right), courtesy Ellensburg Daily Record

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