Penn State student-athletes continue to excel in academic progress

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State student-athletes continue to make better progress toward graduation in comparison with the nation's Division I institutions, according to data released Wednesday (June 20) by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

Four Penn State squads earned perfect multi-year APR scores of 1,000: field hockey, women's cross country, women's golf and women's tennis. The average multi-year APR score for Penn State's 29 varsity teams is 983, well above the Division I average of 973, according to the NCAA.

The NCAA released data from the 2010-11 academic year as the eighth set of results in the Academic Progress Rate (APR), a formula introduced as part of the Division I Academic Performance Program. The NCAA released sport specific data for 2010-11 to each institution, as well as the most recent four years of collected data that is used to determine a rolling four-year (multi-year) APR score for all athletic teams to provide a meaningful assessment of a team's academic performance.

"Penn State student-athletes continue to make us proud with their achievement in the classroom," said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. "The latest NCAA data indicate all our women's and men's teams have placed a strong emphasis on academics and in four cases -- field hockey, women's cross country, women's golf and women's tennis -- they achieved perfect APR scores. Performing at a high level in the classroom and also on the court and the field is particularly challenging when balancing the demands of Division I athletic competition with the academic expectations at a major research university."

Highlights of Penn State's Academic Progress Report for 2010-11:

- Among Penn State's 29 varsity teams (31 as of 2012-13), 24 have a four-year APR score at or above the NCAA Division I average for all sports;

- 23 of 29 teams have a score equal to or above the NCAA Division I average for their respective sport;

- The Penn State field hockey, women's cross country, women's golf, and women's tennis teams earned perfect APR scores of 1000;

- 28 of 29 Penn State teams have an APR score of 965 or higher (40 points above the NCAA's 925 figure for possible contemporaneous penalties);

- The Penn State football team earned an APR score of 971, 23 points higher than the Division I football average of 948;

- The Nittany Lion basketball team earned an APR score of 980, 30 points higher than the Division I men's basketball average of 950;

- The Lady Lion basketball team earned an APR score of 985, 15 points higher than the Division I women's basketball average of 970;

Four Nittany Lions squads have multi-year APR scores that rank in the Top 10 percent nationally for their respective sport: field hockey, women's cross country, women's golf, and women's tennis. Earlier this month, those four squads earned NCAA Public Recognition Awards for their superlative APR scores. The Penn State women's tennis team is one of only 209 teams among the 6,403 eligible (3.2 percent) that has earned seven consecutive Public Recognition Awards since the program began with APR data from 2004-05.

Penn State academic standards (Faculty Senate Policy 67-00) are higher than both the NCAA and Big Ten standards and are reflected in the APR reporting to the NCAA. Penn State student-athletes must have a higher grade point average than the NCAA and Big Ten minimum after their first through fifth semesters.

The APR scores are a measure of eligibility and retention/graduation for each student-athlete receiving athletic aid during the identified academic semester/year. Retention is evaluated for each student-athlete with the following question in mind: Did that student-athlete return to the institution the next semester (students can earn 2 points after the fall semester and 2 points after the spring and summer semesters). Eligibility is evaluated using NCAA, conference (if applicable), and institutional standards.

The APR is based on four years of data, with the most current year's data added and the oldest year removed to create a four-year (multi-year) rolling rate.

Contemporaneous financial aid penalties can be applied if an athletic team's multi-year APR score is below 925. If a team's multi-year score is below 900, that team could be subject to historical penalties. The NCAA plans to raise the score for potential penalties to 930 during the next several years.

Penn State student-athletes, who have captured 32 Big Ten Championships during the past seven years and are tied for a nation's-best 11 NCAA titles since March 2007, consistently have been among the nation's most successful in earning their degrees. Among some of the recent academic accomplishments are:

- The NCAA's annual study of institutions nationwide in October, 2011 revealed that Penn State student-athletes at the University Park campus earned a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 88 percent compared to an 80 percent average for all Division I institutions. The 88 percent figure was third-highest among Big Ten Conference institutions.

- The NCAA four-year federal graduation rate average for University Park student-athletes was 79 percent, significantly higher than the national average of 64 percent, and second to Northwestern (88) among Big Ten institutions.

- Among the 2004-05 entering freshman class, 80 percent of Penn State student-athletes earned degrees within six years, well above the 65 percent average for all Division I institutions, and second-highest to Northwestern (85) among Big Ten schools, according to the 2011 NCAA data.

- A total of 62 current and former Penn State student-athletes graduated this past May.

- A total of 240 Nittany Lion student-athletes earned Academic All-Big Ten honors in 2011-12.

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Last Updated June 29, 2012