Penn State student-athletes continue outstanding graduation rates

October 25, 2012

Graduation Success Rate of 88 percent highlights another stellar academic report

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State student-athletes continue to graduate well above their peers nationwide, earning record-setting academic performances, according to statistical information released by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

The NCAA's annual study of institutions nationwide revealed that Penn State student-athletes at the University Park campus earned a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 88 percent compared to the 80 percent average for all Division I institutions for students entering from 2002-03 through 2005-06. The 88 percent figure was third to Northwestern (97) and Illinois (89) among Big Ten Conference institutions

"Penn State student-athletes have long represented the best in intercollegiate sports, with high caliber team play and outstanding scholarship. This year, the NCAA Graduation Success Rate for Penn State student-athletes ranks among the very best in the nation; our football graduation rates are Penn State records and stellar achievements," said President Rodney Erickson. "This is a real credit to our student athletes, coaches and the staff members who support their academic success."

The Penn State football team broke its program record for the second consecutive year with a Graduation Success Rate of 91 percent, tied with Rutgers for the No. 7 graduation rate among all 120 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams.

The Nittany Lion basketball (92 percent) and Lady Lion basketball (100 percent) teams also earned Graduation Success Rates at least 15 percent higher than the national average.

The graduation data comes amidst a fall sports season that has five Penn State teams leading, or tied for the lead, in their respective Big Ten standings, with the women's soccer team having already clinched a 15th consecutive Big Ten Championship. Three teams are ranked in the Top 5 nationally: women's volleyball (No. 1), women's soccer (4) and field hockey (5).

This is the 22nd annual release of institutional graduation rates since national "right-to-know" legislation was passed in 1990. In 2005, the NCAA Division I Committee on Academic Performance implemented the initial release of the team GSR data.

The GSR is the NCAA's more inclusive calculation of student-athlete academic success. The NCAA rate is more accurate than the federally mandated methodology because it includes incoming transfers and students enrolling in the spring semester who receive athletic aid and graduate, and deletes from the calculation student-athletes who leave an institution and were academically eligible to compete. The federal rate does neither.

In addition to releasing each institution's overall four-year Graduation Success Rate, the NCAA also released the federal graduation rates for students and student-athletes as it has for the past 22 years.
The four-year federal graduation rate average for University Park student-athletes was 78 percent, second to Northwestern (88) among Big Ten schools, and significantly above the 64 percent Division I average. The four-year average for University Park students was 85 percent, also far exceeding the 63 percent rate for all students nationwide.

Among the 2005-06 entering freshman class, 80 percent of Penn State student-athletes earned degrees within six years, the same as last year, and well above the 65 percent average for all Division I institutions. The graduation rate for all Penn State students was 87 percent in the entering class of 2005-06.

"We are extremely proud of the outstanding academic successes and graduation rates by Penn State student-athletes," said David Joyner, acting director of athletics. "The NCAA graduation data again reinforces Intercollegiate Athletics' mission of integrity, academics and winning championships."

The NCAA data revealed that student-athletes from five Penn State squads earned a Graduation Success Rate of 100 percent -- Lady Lion basketball, field hockey, softball, men's tennis and women's tennis – and 10 additional teams were at 90 percent or higher for a total of 15. Nineteen of Penn State's 25 teams (track/cross country teams combined) earned a Graduation Success Rate at or above the national GSR average of 80 percent.

Other highlights from the NCAA Graduation Rates Report:

-- Penn State African-American student-athletes earned a school record 90 percent Graduation
Success Rate, up from last year's record-tying 87 percent figure. The figure was second-highest among Big Ten institutions (Northwestern, 92) and 25 points higher than the national average (65 percent).

-- Penn State African-American student-athletes earned a 72 percent four-year federal graduation rate, 18 points higher than the national average (54), and second-highest among Big Ten institutions. Penn State's rate marked the 22nd consecutive year the Nittany Lions topped the Division I national average.

-- The Penn State Football (91 percent compared to 68 percent), Nittany Lion Basketball (92 percent to 68 percent) and Lady Lion Basketball (100 percent to 84 percent) teams all earned four-year Graduation Success Rates at least 15 points higher than the national average for their sport. Coach Patrick Chambers' Nittany Lions ranked second in the Big Ten with their 92 percent GSR score. Coach Coquese Washington's Lady Lions were tied for first in the Big Ten with their 100 percent GSR average.

-- The 2005-06 entering class for the Nittany Lion football team earned a record 93 percent graduation rate, which was No. 2 among Big Ten teams (Northwestern, 95 percent). The record 91 percent GSR figure for the Penn State football program also was second-highest to Northwestern among all Big Ten gridiron teams. Penn State football student-athletes earned a four-year federal graduation rate of 84 percent, second in the Big Ten and No. 5 among all FBS teams.


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Last Updated November 14, 2012