Student-athletes graduating this summer boosts yearly total to 159

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State will conclude the 2016-17 academic calendar with summer commencement ceremonies on Saturday in the Bryce Jordan Center. A total of 18 Nittany Lion student-athletes have been approved to receive their diplomas this weekend.

With the 18 students approved to graduate, Penn State Athletics closes out 2016-17 with 159 graduates this academic year. Having boasted a school-record 114 spring graduates, the 159 Nittany Lions earning their degrees is the most since Penn State began offering 31 programs in 2012-13, with the addition of men’s and women’s hockey.

Thanks to the efforts of the student-athletes, the Morgan Academic Center staff, faculty, coaches and staff, the 159 Nittany Lion graduates this year are an increase of three from 2015-16 and 13 more than the 2014-15 total (146).

Nine Penn State teams are represented on the summer approved to graduate list: men’s basketball, men’s fencing, women’s fencing, football, men’s gymnastics, men’s lacrosse, women’s lacrosse, men’s tennis and women’s track and field.

Since the 2013 fall semester, when many of this weekend’s graduates enrolled, Penn State student-athletes have won a Big Ten-leading seven NCAA Championships and 23 Big Ten Championships, including seven in 2016-17.

The summer graduation caps an outstanding year of academic achievements for Penn State student-athletes, who consistently are among the nation's most successful in earning their degrees. A sampling of their recent academic accomplishments includes:

— In November 2016, the NCAA released its annual national graduation rates study, which revealed that Penn State student-athletes earned a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 89 percent compared to the 84 percent average for all Division I institutions for students entering from 2006-07 through the 2009-10 academic year. The 89 percent graduation figure was just one point off Penn State's 90 percent all-time graduation record mark and one point higher than the 2015 figure.

— The NCAA reported in May that 18 Penn State teams earned perfect Academic Progress Rate scores of 1,000 in 2015-16, up from 13 in last year’s report and 10 squads in 2013-14, representing a 44 percent improvement over the past two years.

— A school-record 114 student-athletes graduated in May, breaking the previous mark of 109, set during the 2013 spring semester and tied last year.

— During the 2017 spring semester, a school-record 66 percent of all active student-athletes earned at least a 3.0 grade-point average. The 3.14 combined GPA during the spring also was a record.

— A school-record 97 Nittany Lion students were named Big Ten Distinguished Scholars in 2016-17 for having at least a 3.7 grade-point average and being a letterwinner.

— A school-record 145 Nittany Lion students from the spring/at-large sports earned Academic All-Big Ten accolades. The 145 honorees boosted Penn State to 299 Academic All-Big Ten honorees in 2016-17, tying the record set last year. The previous high among the spring/at-large sports was 140, also set in 2015-16.

— Penn State is second among all Big Ten institutions with 5,875 Academic All-Big Ten honorees since 1991-92, its first year of competition in some Big Ten sports.

— Penn State has had 198 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans all-time, including five honorees in 2016-17, which ranks fifth among all NCAA institutions and fourth among Division I schools.

Last Updated August 11, 2017