Charlotte 49ers athletic teams have won their fair share of conference championships since joining the Atlantic 10 in 2005.But there’s one aspect of A-10 athletics in which Charlotte has been clearly dominant during its tenure: academics.Last month, graduating senior pole vaulter Macey Ruble was named the A-10 Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year for 2011-12. He became the eighth 49er student-athlete in seven years, male or female, to win the award.Charlotte student-athletes have won five of the six available awards since the 2009-10 school year, including the last three awards for men. Golfer Corey Nagy won in 2010, and track and field sprinter Darius Law won last year.Are 49er student-athletes so smart, one has to ask, because of something in UNC Charlotte’s transparent, odorless, tasteless compound of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen? (That’s water, for the not-so-academically gifted.)“To win eight out of 14 of the A-10 scholar-athletes of the year… ,” said athletic director Judy Rose, “speaks volumes about the level of importance we put on academics. “We’re not a one-sided program. We want to prepare our student athletes for life after sports and prepare the total person concept, including life skills and community service. We think we have a very gifted group of young people.”Starting in 2006, Mike Ambrose (baseball), Jane Daniels (cross country/track), Lindsey Ozimek (soccer), her sister Haley Beam (soccer) and Megan Minnix (soccer) also have won the conference award. The only year since then in which a Charlotte athlete did not win Scholar-Athlete of the Year was 2008-09.The Atlantic 10 has included 14 institutions during the 49ers’ tenure. Charlotte was a member of Conference USA before 2005 and will rejoin Conference USA in 2013.Rose said much of the credit should go to the Athletic Academic Center and its staff. Built as an addition to the Miltimore-Wallis Athletic Training and Academic Center, which was completed in 2003, the Athletic Academic Center gives students access to study areas, tutoring and a computer lab.“It was an amazing difference when we built the academic center in there,” said Rose. “…The first day we opened it, kids who were 4.0 students wanted to be in the academic center, because everything was wired for computers. It was first-class. We had not had that before.”Lisa Hibbs, director of the Athletic Academic Center, leads five full-time staff members. The center is open 70 hours a week, Sundays through Fridays.The athletic department ingrains the importance of academics and use of the Athletic Academic Center in student-athletes’ minds during their first year on campus. Freshmen and first-year transfers must attend study hall for at least six hours a week and meet with an academic adviser once a week.Besides helping with study habits, advisers guide student-athletes with course scheduling, time-management skills and completing coursework during their sport’s season, when they sometimes have to miss class to go to out-of-town contests.“The advisers have been great,” said Ruble. “I think they realize only a few people will play professionally, but most others will need to find something else to do. “So it’s important to do well academically,” Ruble said. “Athletics in college is really just a way to get you through school and develop you as a whole person.”A winner of the A-10 Postgraduate Scholarship and the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, Ruble is beginning a post-graduate program at Cornell University this month. Ruble graduated from UNCC in May with a degree in the double major of physics and mathematics.It’s possible Ruble applied his fields of study to his efforts in track and field. In 2010, he was runner-up at the A-10 indoor championship meet.