Penn State student-athletes make the grade with above-average APR

University Park, Pa. — Penn State student-athletes continue to make better progress toward graduation in comparison with the nation's Division I institutions, despite higher academic standards than required, according to data released Tuesday (May 6) by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

The NCAA released data from the 2006-07 academic year as the fourth set of results in the Academic Progress Rate (APR), a formula introduced in 2005 as part of the Division I Academic Performance Program. The NCAA released sport specific data for 2006-07 to each institution, as well as the initial 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.

Three Penn State squads have a perfect multi-year APR score of 1,000 - field hockey, women's lacrosse and women's tennis. Just 6.7 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 have a four-year APR score at or above the Division I average for their respective sports, an improvement from the 22 squads in last year's report. The NCAA did not release institutional APR rates for 2006-07 or the multi-year rate.

Ten Nittany Lions squads have multi-year APR scores that rank in the Top 20 percent nationally for their respective sport, including: men's basketball, field hockey, football, men's golf, women's golf, women's lacrosse, softball, women's tennis, women's volleyball and wrestling.

"We continue to be very pleased with the consistently high level of academic achievements of our student-athletes," stated Tim Curley, Director of Athletics. "Their academic success is a credit to their outstanding work-ethic and dedication. Our coaches deserve credit for identifying and recruiting student-athletes that are able to excel in the classroom, compete for championships and represent Penn State. The encouragement and guidance they receive from our faculty and academic support personnel also are a critical component in our academic successes."

In April, five Penn State teams - field hockey, softball, women's lacrosse, women's tennis and wrestling - earned NCAA Public Recognition Awards for having APR scores in the top 10 percent nationally for their respective sport during the 2006-07 academic year. Penn State's five honored teams were second-highest in the Big Ten Conference. Northwestern led with eight.

Penn State student-athletes earned a record Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 88 percent compared to a 77 percent average for all Division I institutions, according to NCAA data released in October 2007. Twenty-two of Penn State's 25 teams earned a GSR score above the national average (track and field and cross country are counted as one sport) and 21 teams had a GSR of 80 percent or better.

Ten Penn State squads earned a GSR of 100 percent, according to the 2007 NCAA report.

Penn State academic standards (Faculty Senate Policy 67-00) are higher than both the NCAA and Big Ten standards and are reflected in the 2003-04, 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07 APR reporting to the NCAA. Nittany Lion student-athletes are required to have passed more credits entering their fifth through eighth semesters than the Big Ten and NCAA require. Penn State student-athletes also must have a higher grade point average than the Big Ten minimum entering their second through sixth 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.

Beginning this year, the APR will be based on four years of data and every year thereafter, the most current year's data will be added and the oldest year will be removed to create a four-year (multi-year) rolling rate.

With four years of collected data, contemporaneous financial aid penalties can be applied this academic year if an athletic team's four-year APR score is below 925. If a team's multi-year score is below 900, that team could be subject to historical penalties.

None of Penn State's 29 varsity sport programs team has a multi-year APR below 925.

The Penn State football team has a four-year APR score of 964, easily beating the Football Bowl Subdivision (Division I-A) football average of 936 and the public institution average of 925. The Nittany Lions earned the Big Ten's second-highest APR score, trailing only Northwestern.

The Nittany Lion basketball team has a four-year APR score of 964, significantly above the Division I men's basketball average of 928 and the public institution score of 918. Penn State posted the Big Ten's third-highest APR figure, trailing only Illinois and Northwestern. The Lady Lion basketball squad has a multi-year APR score of 953, one point below the public institution score for women's basketball programs.

Penn State's student-athletes, who have captured 12 Big Ten Championships during the last three years and four NCAA titles in the past 14 months, consistently have been among the nation's most successful in earning their degrees. Among some of the recent academic accomplishments are:

- Eight Nittany Lion student-athletes were selected to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America® team in 2006-07, with four more honorees during the 2007 fall semester.

- Among the 2000-01 entering freshman class, a record-tying 83 percent of Penn State student-athletes earned degrees within six years, compared to 63 percent for all Division I institutions, according to NCAA data released last fall.

- Penn State's 82 percent four-year graduation rate is well above the national average of 62 percent for student-athletes. The four-year average was second highest in the Big Ten to Northwestern.

- Of the Penn State student-athletes in the NCAA studies from 1991-92 through 2000-01 who exhausted their eligibility, 95 percent earned their diplomas.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010