Four Penn State teams earn NCAA Public Recognition Award for high APR

University Park, Pa. — Four Penn State teams have received a Public Recognition Award from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for earning high scores in the most recent Academic Progress Rate (APR) compilation.

The Penn State squads to be recognized by the NCAA are: Nittany Lion basketball, field hockey, softball and women's tennis. All four teams earned APR scores in the top 10 percent nationally for their respective sport during the 2008-09 academic year.

The women's tennis team picked up its fourth straight Public Recognition Award, while field hockey and softball were honored for the third consecutive year. The Nittany Lion basketball team was one of three Big Ten squads recognized and among only 11 honorees of the 73 programs who are members of BCS conferences.

Penn State's four honored teams ranked third among Big Ten Conference institutions. Northwestern led with 10 teams, while Michigan had six.

The aggregate 2008-09 Academic Progress Rate data for all NCAA Division I institutions will be announced by early June.

The NCAA's APR is designed to track the academic progress of each student-athlete on scholarship at a particular institution. It accounts for eligibility, retention and graduation to provide a measure of each team's academic performance.

Last year's data revealed Penn State student-athletes make better progress toward graduation compared with the nation's Division I institutions, despite higher academic standards than required.

Penn State student-athletes, who have captured 23 Big Ten Championships during the past five years and eight NCAA titles the past four, consistently have been among the nation's most successful in earning their degrees. Among some of the recent academic accomplishments are:

• Penn State student-athletes earned a school record Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 89 percent for the second consecutive year, compared to a 79 percent average for all Division I-A institutions, according to NCAA data released last November. The 89 percent figure was second highest among Big Ten Conference institutions.

• According to the 2009 NCAA data, Penn State's four-year federal graduation rate average was 82 percent, again well above the national average of 63 percent, and second to Northwestern (88) among Big Ten schools.

• The 2009 NCAA data revealed that student-athletes from 23 of Penn State's 25 teams (track/cross country teams combined) earned a Graduation Success Rate at or above the national GSR average of 79 percent. Seven Penn State squads earned a Graduation Success Rate of 100 percent and 21 of 25 Nittany Lion teams earned a GSR higher than or equal to the national average for their respective sport.

• More than 400 Penn State student-athletes earned a grade point average of 3.0 or higher during the 2009 fall semester. The total represents 58 percent of the 714 young men and women who are members of the PSU varsity teams.

• A total of 253 Nittany Lion student-athletes earned Academic All-Big Ten honors in 2008-09, tied for Penn State's second-highest total in the program's existence. Accounting for Fall and Winter sports only, 132 student-athletes have garnered Academic All-Big Ten honors for the 2009-10 academic year thus far.

• Five Nittany Lion student-athletes earned first team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America honors last fall, after a Penn State record 11 selections during 2008-09. Honorees included women's volleyball Player of the Year Megan Hodge, who was selected Academic All-American of the Year for her sport, football student-athletes Josh Hull, Andrew Pitz and Stefen Wisniewski and men's soccer standout Jason Yeisley.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010