Record 68 Penn State student-athletes honored as Big Ten Distinguished Scholars

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A record total of 68 Penn State student-athletes have been selected for the Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Award for earning a grade-point average of 3.7 or higher during the 2012-13 academic year.

Penn State’s 68 Distinguished Scholars are a significant increase from the 2011-12 total of 51 and were tied with Nebraska for second-highest in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions’ previous high was 62 honorees in 2008-09.

Twenty-six sports were represented among the Nittany Lions’ honorees, led by women's cross country/track and field (10), women’s swimming and diving (eight), field hockey (six), men’s golf (five) and women’s volleyball (four).

Eight of Penn State's Distinguished Scholar Award recipients earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average during the 2012-13 academic year:

-- Megan Boyer, women’s track & field, junior, human development & family studies, Millersburg, Pa.;
-- Rachel Casciano, women’s cross-country, sophomore, communications, Wyomissing, Pa.;
-- Kalyn Fisher, women’s cross-country/track & field, junior, childhood & early adolescent education, Lewisburg, Pa.;
-- Margaret Harding, women’s volleyball, junior, food science, State College, Pa.;
-- Kevin Montminy, men’s basketball, sophomore, business administration, Centre Hall, Pa.;
-- Kathleen Rodden, women’s cross-country/track & field, sophomore, health & human development, Ardmore, Pa.;
-- John Urschel, football, senior, mathematics, Williamsville, N.Y.;
-- Gabrielle Shishkoff, women’s swimming & diving, junior, psychology, Franklin, Mass.

Also among Penn State's Distinguished Scholars were members of Penn State's NCAA and Big Ten Champion wrestling team and conference champion women’s basketball, women’s outdoor track and field, women’s lacrosse, field hockey, men’s soccer, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball teams.

The Big Ten announced that 637 student-athletes were selected recipients of the Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Award. The list includes student-athletes from every institution and 38 different sports earned a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.7 or higher for the previous academic year. The 2012-13 class of Distinguished Scholar Award recipients includes 101 student-athletes who maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA during the previous academic term. 

Penn State student-athletes, who won a school record 11 conference championships in 2012-13, including eight Big Ten titles, consistently have been among the nation's most successful in earning their degrees. Among some of the recent academic accomplishments are:

-- The NCAA's annual study of institutions nationwide in October 2012 revealed that Penn State student-athletes at the University Park campus earned a graduation success rate (GSR) of 88 percent compared to an 80 percent average for all Division I institutions. The 88 percent figure was third-highest among Big Ten Conference institutions.
-- The NCAA four-year federal graduation rate average for University Park student-athletes was 78 percent, significantly higher than the national average of 64 percent, and second to Northwestern (88) among Big Ten institutions.
-- Among the 2005-06 entering freshman class, 80 percent of Penn State student-athletes earned degrees within six years, well above the 65 percent average for all Division I institutions, according to the NCAA.
-- A total of 109 current and former Penn State student-athletes graduated this past May.
-- A school record of 296 Nittany Lion student-athletes earned Academic All-Big Ten honors in 2012-13, shattering the previous record of 261.

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Last Updated July 18, 2013