Nearly 100 Penn State student-athletes approved to graduate this weekend

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Nearly 100 Penn State student-athletes are scheduled to graduate during commencement exercises this weekend on the University Park campus. Student-athletes from 25 Penn State programs have been approved to receive their diplomas.

A total of 96 student-athletes, as well as 15 members of the cheerleading squad and six members of the three-time defending national champion Lionettes dance team, are on the approved to graduate list. The football and women’s track and field teams lead with 10 student-athletes receiving their diplomas this weekend.

Among the Penn State student-athletes who are graduating are: Maggie Lucas (women’s basketball), a two-time All-American and Big Ten Player of the Year; Tim Frazier (men’s basketball, a two-time All-Big Ten honoree, who is earning his second degree; and Maggie Harding (women’s volleyball), a two-time recipient of the NCAA Elite 89 Award.

Also scheduled to graduate are 14 Penn State student-athletes whose teams have captured NCAA Championships during their careers, including Ed Ruth (Harrisburg), a three-time NCAA wrestling champion, who was instrumental in Penn State winning the last four NCAA titles.

A total of 13 Penn State student-athletes who are approved to graduate have earned All-America honors, including Lucas, Ruth, Evonne Britton (women’s track and field), Bernard Bennett-Green (men’s track and field), Nicole Glon (women’s fencing), Austin Kaut (men’s lacrosse), Laura Loht (women’s track and field) and David Willette (men’s fencing).

The Nittany Lion football team has 10 players graduating, six of whom have eligibility for the 2013 season. Brad Bars, Jesse Della Valle, Miles Dieffenbach, Mike Hull, C.J. Olaniyan and Zach Zwinak will return for their senior seasons in the fall. Kyle Baublitz, Kevin Blanchard, Bryan Davie and Pat Zerbe are 2013 football seniors scheduled to graduate this weekend.

Four members of the Lady Lion basketball team and two members of the Nittany Lion basketball team are approved to graduate this weekend. From the women’s basketball team: Lucas, Talia East, Ariel Edwards and Dara Taylor. The Nittany Lions scheduled to graduate this weekend are Frazier and Zach Cooper.

Penn State student-athletes, who have captured a conference-best 15 Big Ten Championships and four NCAA titles the past two years, have been among the nation's most successful in earning their degrees. A sampling of recent academic accomplishments includes:

-- A school record 65 Penn State student-athletes from eight winter teams earned Academic All-Big Ten honors. The previous mark for the winter sports season was 64 honorees, set in 2013. The 65 winter honorees brought Penn State's 2013-14 total to 149 (from 15 total sports);

-- A record total of 387 awards were presented to Penn State student-athletes at the 27th annual SAAB Academic Achievement Awards Banquet on April 15. The figure topped last year's record of 356;

-- A school record 468 Penn State student-athletes earned a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher during the 2013 fall semester, with 197 earning dean's list recognition;

-- A total of 84 Penn State student-athletes from seven fall sports earned 2013 Academic All-Big Ten accolades, the Nittany Lions' second-highest total in their 21 years in the Big Ten;

-- The NCAA's annual study of institutions nationwide in October 2013 revealed that Penn State student-athletes at the University Park campus earned a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 88 percent compared to an 81 percent average for all Division I institutions for students entering from 2003-04 through 2006-07;

-- NCAA data last October also showed the four-year federal graduation rate average for Penn State student-athletes was 78 percent, significantly higher than the national average of 65 percent and tied for second among Big Ten Conference institutions;

-- Penn State's Katie Slay (women's volleyball) and John Urschel (football) earned first-team Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-America honors last fall, with Slay being selected the Academic All-American of the Year for women's volleyball. Penn State has had 184 all-time honorees, the third-highest total among Division I institutions, with 38 Academic All-Americans honorees the past six years.

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Last Updated June 20, 2014