Nittany Lions earn highest graduation success figure of 10 BCS teams

Eighteen Squad Members Have Earned Degrees; Four First Team Academic All-Americans

Los Angeles — For the second consecutive year, the Penn State football team ranks in the top 12 among 2008-09 bowl teams, and is second among all Big Ten squads, in three Graduation Success Rate and Academic Progress Rate figures, according to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport. Also, the Nittany Lions have earned the highest graduation success figure among the 10 BCS teams and possess the third highest GSR among teams ranked in the Dec. 7 Associated Press poll Top 25. 
 
Richard Lapchick is the founder and director of the Institute, which is housed at the University of Central Florida.
 
Among students entering Penn State in the fall of 1998 through 2001, Nittany Lion football student-athletes earned a GSR of 78 percent, easily above the national GSR average of 67 percent. Penn State is tied for No. 11 among all 68 bowl teams (with Nebraska, North Carolina and Troy).
 
African-American members of the Penn State football team earned a GSR of 77 percent, to rank No. 10 among all bowl squads.
 
In addition, the Nittany Lions' most recent Academic Progress Rate of 964 ranks No. 11 among the teams playing in the post-season.
 
For the third consecutive year, the Nittany Lions posted the second highest GSR among all teams in the Big Ten Conference, trailing only Northwestern.
 
The Graduation Success Rate data includes only student-athletes receiving athletic aid and is generated from four years of graduation data. The GSR data also includes student-athlete transfers to Penn State that receive athletic aid.
 
Eighteen Nittany Lions will take the field Thursday vs. USC having already earned their degrees. Seven squad members had earned their degrees prior to the start of the season and 11 more graduated earlier this month. Senior fullback Dan Lawlor (Mechanicsburg) earned his second undergraduate degree, in telecommunications, earlier this month after graduating in marketing in December 2007.
 
Among the 18 graduates are four players who have another year of eligibility in 2009: quarterback Daryll Clark (Youngstown), wide receiver Kevin Cousins (Richmond, Va.), wide receiver Devin Fentress (Chesapeake, Va.) and wideout James McDonald (Washington, D.C.)
 
Penn State also earned a program and nation’s best five players on the 2008 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America® team, with four earning a first team honors, also a school record.
 
Senior tackle Gerald Cadogan (Portsmouth, Ohio), junior linebacker Josh Hull (Millheim), junior kick snapper Andrew Pitz (Bettendorf, Iowa) and senior safety Mark Rubin (Amherst, N.Y.) earned first team accolades. Sophomore guard Stefen Wisniewski (Bridgeville) was a second team choice.
 
Cadogan is the sixth Nittany Lion to earn first team Academic All-America honors twice, with linebacker Paul Posluszny the last to do so, in 2005 and 06. A first team All-Big Ten honoree, Cadogan owned a 3.68 grade point average in rehabilitation services and psychology entering the fall semester and graduated earlier this month.
 
Penn State’s four first team selections and five overall selections led the nation. Brigham Young, Dayton and North Dakota State were the only other schools with more than two honorees.
Penn State became the first school to have five Academic All-America football players since Nebraska in 1997. The Nittany Lions were the only Big Ten Conference team with more than one Academic All-American.
 
The five Academic All-America selections give Penn State 44 all-time, with 42 under Coach Joe Paterno. Twenty-seven Nittany Lions have earned first team Academic All-America honors a total of 31 times under Paterno. The Nittany Lions' total of 44 Academic All-America football players ranks third among all Division I-A institutions.
 
Big Ten Champion Penn State (11-1) and Pac-10 Champion Southern California (11-1) will clash on New Year’s Day in “The Granddaddy of Them All.” The contest will be played at the Rose Bowl Stadium (88,500) in Pasadena, Calif. The game will kick at 2:10 p.m. PT/5:10 p.m. ET and air on ESPN on ABC, ESPN Radio and the Penn State Sports Network.
 
The Nittany Lions will be making their 35th bowl appearance under Coach Joe Paterno, who is the all-time leader in bowl appearances and victories (23).

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Last Updated March 19, 2009