Nittany Lions post highest graduation rate among AP Top 25 teams

November 25, 2009

University Park, Pa. — The Penn State football team has the highest Graduation Success Rate (GSR) and federal graduation rate among teams ranked in this week's Associated Press Top 25 poll, according to data recently released by the NCAA.

The No. 1 academic ranking comes on the heels of Tuesday's announcement by CoSIDA that Penn State led all Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams with three first team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-Americans.

Penn State football student-athletes that enrolled in the University in the fall of 2002 earned a federal graduation rate of 89 percent, easily the best among the teams ranked in the November 22 AP poll. Alabama and Miami (Fla). were tied for second at 75 percent.

Penn State's 89 percent federal graduation rate led all Big Ten Conference institutions and was 34 points above the 55 percent FBS average, according to the NCAA.

The Nittany Lions also lead all AP Top 25 teams with a program record 85 percent Graduation Success Rate. The figure was based on Penn State football student-athletes entering the University in the fall of 1999 through 2002. North Carolina (80) has the second-highest GSR among AP Top 25 teams, followed by Cincinnati and Miami (Fla.) at 75 percent.

Penn State's 85 percent Graduation Success Rate was significantly higher than the 67 percent FBS average and was second to Northwestern among Big Ten Conference institutions, according to the NCAA.

The Graduation Success Rate data includes only student-athletes receiving athletic aid and is generated from four years of graduation data. The GSR data also includes student-athlete transfers to Penn State that receive athletic aid.

The strong NCAA graduation dates is the latest success in a long line of academic achievement for members of Joe Paterno's program, who consistently are near the top nationally in academic success:

- Three Nittany Lions repeated their Academic All-America accolades, as announced Tuesday: senior linebacker Josh Hull (Millheim), senior kick snapper Andrew Pitz (Bettendorf, Iowa) and junior center Stefen Wisniewski (Bridgeville). Hull and Pitz were 2008 first team honorees and Wisniewski was a second team selection last year. Texas was the only other school in the nation with more than one first team honoree.

Last year, a program record five Nittany Lions were selected to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America team. Penn State has had 12 Academic All-Americans® over the past four years. During Joe Paterno's tenure, Penn State has had 45 Academic All-Americans, with 34 earning first team honors. The Nittany Lions' all-time total of 47 Academic All-America football players ranks third among all FBS institutions and leads all Big Ten schools.

- Nine players on the 2009 Penn State squad had graduated prior to the season, the nation's fifth-highest total. Another 10 members of the current team are on schedule to graduate in December.

Paterno's squad (10-2) is ranked No. 13 in this week's Bowl Championship Series standings, No. 11 in the USA Today Coaches and Harris Interactive polls and No. 12 in the Associated Press poll. Penn State concluded its regular season with the convincing victory over Michigan State, posting Paterno's Football Bowl Subdivision record 21st season with at least 10 victories.


The Nittany Lions are 50-13 (79.3) since the start of the 2005 season, the nation's No. 8 winning percentage over that span. Penn State is awaiting the destination and opponent for its 36th bowl game under Paterno, who is the all-time leader in post-season appearances and victories (23-11-1 record).

For the 2009 NCAA Graduation rate data go to:

  • IMAGE: Penn State Sports Information

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Last Updated November 18, 2010