SAAB Academic Achievement Banquet highlighted by record 334 awards

University Park, Pa. — A record total of 334 awards were presented as Penn State student-athletes were honored Monday night at the 23rd SAAB Annual Academic Achievement Awards Banquet in the Bryce Jordan Center.

The awards total, for student-athletes with a 3.0 grade-point average or higher in 2008-09, was the highest since the event began in 1988. The previous high was 333 total awards for the 2006-07 academic year.

The Nittany Lion women's soccer team was presented with the team award for highest grade-point average during the 2008-09 academic year to highlight an outstanding year for Penn State student-athletes. The women's soccer team, coached by Erica Walsh, earned its third highest team GPA award since the academic honors event began.

Sponsored by the Milton and Lois Morgan Academic Support Center for Student-Athletes and the Student-Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB), the 334 awards were presented to 254 student-athletes for their academic accomplishments in 2008-09, the event's second-highest total (262 in 2006-07). The event was held in conjunction with National Student-Athlete Day

Presentations also were made to a record-tying 88 seniors who had a 3.0 or higher cumulative GPA through the Spring 2009 semester. The 88 total tied the number of seniors that were honored from 2003-04 and was an increase of 15 from the Spring 2008 total.

The members of Penn State's 29 varsity programs combined to earn an overall 3.09 grade point average in 2008-09. Eighteen teams earned a grade point average of 3.0 or better. The performance of Penn State's 14 women's programs was particularly notable, earning a combined 3.26 GPA during 2008-09. There are approximately 800 Penn State student-athletes on 29 varsity teams.

Former Penn State football student-athlete Adam Taliaferro was the guest speaker at the awards dinner... SAAB presented a special recognition award to Dr. Scott Kretchmar, who has served as Penn State's Faculty Athletics Representative the past 10 years. His appointment ends on June 30.

The Varsity "S" Awards were presented to the women's and men's teams with the highest team GPA. This year's recipients were the women's soccer team and the men's soccer squad.

The Nittany Lion Club presented its True Grit Award to two student-athletes for overcoming adversities during their careers. The recipients were Lady Lion senior Meggan Quinn (Red Lion) and senior Nittany Lion basketball player Adam Highberger (Blairsville). Both players returned to the hardwood after rehabilitating serious knee injuries.

The SAAB Award (Student-Athletes Above and Beyond) were presented for the third time. The recipients were women's track and field senior Bridget Franek (Hiram, Ohio) and senior women's lacrosse player Margo Josephs (Reisterstown, Md).

The THON awards were presented to the student-athlete and team that raised the most donations for the Four Diamonds Fund and THON. The recipients were senior women's golfer Lindsay Cullen (Allen, Texas) and, for the second consecutive year, Suzanne Isidor's women's lacrosse team.

The CHAMPS Cup Awards for community outreach were presented for the fifth time, with winners selected for squads with 20 or fewer squad members (women's basketball for the fifth consecutive year) and squads with more than 20 squad members (football-offense for the third consecutive year).

Eight Penn State student-athletes were recognized for graduating from the Athletic Director's Leadership Institute, a program that has 50 student-athlete participants.

Penn State's student-athletes, who have captured 23 Big Ten Championships during the past 4 1/2 years and eight NCAA titles in the past three years, consistently have been among the nation's most successful in earning their degrees. Among some of the recent academic accomplishments are:

  • Five Nittany Lion student-athletes were selected first team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-Americans® during the 2009 Fall semester. Megan Hodge, the women's volleyball National Player of the Year, was selected Academic All-American® of the Year for her sport
  • 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
  • During the 2009 Fall semester, a total of 415 student-athletes earned a GPA of 3.0 or above. The 415 total represents 58 percent of the 714 young men and women who were members of Penn State's 29 varsity sports last fall, just two percentage points off the school record. Among the 415 Nittany Lion student-athletes with a 3.0 GPA, 189 earned a 3.50 grade point average or higher to gain Dean's List recognition. Dean's List students must complete a minimum of 12 credits in a semester.

Twenty-one Penn State student-athletes were inducted into the Spiritus Leoninus honor society earlier this semester.

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Last Updated April 23, 2010