University Park, Pa. — Five Penn State teams have earned a Public Recognition Award from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for earning high scores in the latest Academic Progress Rate (APR) compilation.
The five teams — field hockey, softball, women's lacrosse, women's tennis and wrestling — all earned APR scores in the top 10 percent nationally for their respective sport during the 2007-08 academic year. The women's lacrosse, women's tennis and wrestling squads earned Public Recognition Awards for the third consecutive year and the NCAA recognized the field hockey and softball squads for the second straight year.
Penn State's five honored teams were tied for second-highest in the Big Ten Conference. The Nittany Lions have placed second in the Big Ten all three years of the NCAA's Public Recognition program.
The aggregate 2007-08 Academic Progress Rate data for all NCAA Division I institutions will be announced on May 6.
The NCAA's APR data last year revealed that Penn State student-athletes make better progress toward graduation in comparison with the nation's Division I institutions, despite higher academic standards than required.
Three Penn State teams had a four-year APR score of 1,000 --- women's golf, women's lacrosse and women's tennis, according to 2008 NCAA data. Less than seven percent of the nation's 6,272 teams in the survey earned a four-year APR score of 1,000.
Among Penn State's 29 varsity teams, 24 had a four-year APR score above the Division I average for their respective sports, according to the 2008 NCAA report.
The NCAA will be releasing data from the 2007-08 academic year on May 6 as the fifth set of information in the Academic Progress Rate, a formula introduced in 2005 as part of the Division I Academic Performance Program. The APR includes eligibility, retention and graduation in the calculation and provides a clear picture of the academic culture in each sport.
The NCAA will release sport specific data for 2007-08 to each institution, as well as the last four years of collected data that will be used to determine a four-year APR score for all athletic teams to provide a meaningful assessment of a team's academic performance.
Penn State's student-athletes, who have captured 17 Big Ten Championships during the past 3 1/2 years and six NCAA titles in the past two years, consistently have been among the nation's most successful in earning their degrees. Among some of the recent academic accomplishments are:
- A school record nine Nittany Lion student-athletes were selected to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America® team during the 2008 Fall semester, including six first team honorees.
- A school record 261 Nittany Lion student-athletes earned Academic All-Big Ten honors in 2007-08, eclipsing the previous record of 253. Penn State has 3,131 overall honorees during the past 14-plus years to lead all Big Ten institutions in academic all-conference recipients.
- The NCAA's annual study of institutions nationwide revealed in October 2008 that Penn State student-athletes at the University Park campus earned a record Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 89 percent compared to a 78 percent average for all Division I institutions for students entering from 1998-99 through 2001-02.
- According to the 2008 NCAA data, Penn State's 2001-02 entering freshman class earned a record 84 percent federal graduation rate among student-athletes, significantly above the 64 percent for all Division I institutions. The four-year federal graduation rate average for University Park student-athletes was 82 percent, again well above the national average of 63 percent, and second to Northwestern (88) in the Big Ten.
- African-American student-athletes at Penn State continue to graduate at much higher percentages than at other Division I institutions. Seventy-nine percent of African-American student-athletes that entered Penn State in 2001-02 graduated, highest among Big Ten Conference institutions and significantly above the national Division I average of 53 percent.
- Penn State's African-American student-athlete GSR was 80 percent, again significantly above the Division I national GSR average of 62 percent. Penn State was second only to Northwestern among Big Ten schools in the African-American four-year federal graduation rate and GSR.
- Of the Penn State student-athletes in the NCAA studies from 1992-93 through 2001-02 who exhausted their eligibility, 96 percent left with their diplomas.