Record 356 awards presented at 26th SAAB Academic Achievement Awards

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A record total of 356 awards were presented to Penn State student-athletes Monday night (April 15) at the 26th annual SAAB Academic Achievement Awards Banquet at The Penn Stater Conference Center and Hotel.

Sponsored by the Milton and Lois Morgan Academic Support Center for Student-Athletes and the Student-Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB), a record 269 awards were presented to student-athletes for their academic accomplishments in 2011-12. Presentations were made to a record total of 96 seniors who had a 3.0 or higher cumulative grade-point average through the 2012 fall semester.

The previous records were 334 total awards (2008-09), 262 individual student-athlete awards (2006-07) and 88 awards to seniors with a 3.0 cumulative GPA (2003-04 and 2008-09).

The members of Penn State’s 29 varsity programs in 2011-12 (men’s and women’s hockey became varsity sports in 2012-13) combined to earn an overall 3.05 GPA. The 14 women’s programs posted a combined 3.24 GPA and 19 teams overall earned a 3.0 GPA or higher. There are more than 750 Penn State student-athletes on varsity teams.

Coach Beth Alford-Sullivan’s women’s cross-country squad and coach Jeff Zinn’s men’s tennis team took home this year’s Varsity "S" Awards, presented to the men’s and women’s teams with the highest team GPAs. The women’s cross-country team earned the Milt Morgan Jr. Highest Team GPA Award.

The Nittany Lion Club honored two student-athletes with the prestigious True Grit Award, presented annually for overcoming adversities while continuing to succeed in the classroom and on the athletic field during their careers. Nittany Lion wrestler James English (York) and women’s track and field athlete Rachel Casiano (Wyomissing) were honored this year. Casiano has overcome a battle with thyroid cancer and English has missed two full seasons with injuries.

The SAAB Awards (Student-Athletes Above and Beyond) were presented for the sixth time. The recipients were Maddy Evans (Glenside, women’s soccer) and Gizelle Studevent (LaJolla, Calif., women’s basketball). These awards are voted on by the student-athletes.

Awards for THON were presented to the student-athlete and team that raised the most donations for the Four Diamonds Fund and THON. The team recipient was women’s golf, with women’s golfer Jamie Lavin (Deerfield, Ill.) earning the individual award.

The CHAMPS Cup Awards for community outreach were presented for the eighth time. Claiming the small teams (20 or fewer on roster) award was the women’s gymnastics team. The large teams (20 or more on roster) award went to football-offense.

Twenty-seven Penn State student-athletes were recognized for participating in the Athletic Director's Leadership Institute, a program that has 68 student-athlete participants (sophomores through seniors).

Penn State student-athletes have captured a school record seven Big Ten Championships and one NCAA title in 2012-13 and continue to graduate well above their peers nationwide, earning consistently outstanding academic performances.

-- A record total of 100 Penn State student-athletes from seven fall sports earned 2012 Academic All-Big Ten accolades, the highest total in the conference. A total of 64 Nittany Lion student-athletes from winter sports earned academic all-conference honors to bring Penn State’s total to 164 honorees thus far in 2012-13
-- The NCAA's annual study of institutions nationwide revealed in October 2012 that Penn State student-athletes at the University Park campus earned a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 88 percent compared to a 80 percent average for all Division I institutions for students entering from 2002-03 through 2005-06
-- The NCAA data showed the four-year federal graduation rate average for Penn State student-athletes was 78 percent, significantly higher than the national average of 64 percent and second to Northwestern (88) among Big Ten Conference institutions.
-- The NCAA data also revealed that student-athletes from five Penn State squads earned a Graduation Success Rate of 100 percent and 10 additional teams were at 90 percent or higher for a total of 15 out of 25 teams (cross-country/track and field combined).

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Last Updated April 27, 2013