RICHMOND, Va. – It's evident that first-year Head Coach Dave Giffard believes that success in the classroom relates to success on the field.

His mission became clear this spring when 17 Virginia Commonwealth University Men's Soccer players sported a grade point average of 3.0 or better – and much of that success can be credited to the coaching staff's new academic program.

"As we begin to lay the foundation of a winning culture here at VCU, academics were at the forefront of our focus this spring," Giffard said.  "Honest players that you can count on in key moments do things the right way in all areas of their lives, not just on the field.  Having 17 athletes with a 3.0 GPA or better this semester is a reflection of that culture starting to change."

The men's soccer program, which produced a collective 3.0775 GPA this spring, more than doubled its total from the previous semester as eight student-athletes had GPAs of 3.0 or better in the fall.

"The success of the spring semester was a reflection on Coach Giffard's commitment to academics," said VCU Student-Athlete Development Coordinator Kasey Mattison.  "He wants the boys to work to their fullest potential on and off the field."

Giffard and the Rams will begin a new era of VCU Soccer when they travel to in-state rival and defending national champion University of Virginia for an exhibition match on Aug. 20.