Penn State student-athletes post record graduation rates

October 16, 2008

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 earlier this week 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 record Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 89 percent compared to a 78 percent average for all Division I institutions for students entering from 1998-99 through 2001-02.
This is the 18th release of institutional graduation rates since national "right-to-know" legislation was passed in 1990. The NCAA releases the data collected by the U.S. Department of Education. 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 18 years. Among the 2001-02 entering freshman class, a record 84 percent of Penn State student-athletes earned degrees within six years, significantly above the 64 percent for all Division I institutions.

Penn State's 84 percent figure was tied for second-highest among Big Ten Conference institutions with Michigan, trailing only Northwestern (89). The graduation rate for all Penn State students also was 84 percent in the entering class of 2001-02. 

Penn State's previous high federal graduation rate for student-athletes was 83 percent, earned by the entering classes of 1999-2000, 1997-98 and 1989-90.

The four-year federal graduation rate average for University Park student-athletes was 82 percent, again well above the national average of 63 percent, and second to Northwestern (88) in the Big Ten. The four-year average for University Park students was 84 percent, also far exceeding the 61 percent rate for all students nationwide.
"Our strong graduation rates have always been a point of pride for Penn State, and the success of our student-athletes both on the field and off the field is impressive," said President Graham Spanier. "We have a long-held commitment to academics at Penn State, and it is gratifying to see it reflected in these numbers."

The NCAA data revealed that student-athletes from 22 of Penn State's 25 teams (track/cross country teams combined) earned a Graduation Success Rate at or above the national GSR average of 78 percent. Eleven Penn State squads earned a Graduation Success Rate of 100 percent, one higher than last year, and 21 Nittany Lion teams earned a GSR higher than the national average for their respective sport.

The impressive graduation report comes amidst another successful fall athletic season, which includes Top 10 national rankings by Penn State's 2007 NCAA Championship women's volleyball team (No. 1), football (No. 3) and field hockey (No. 10) teams.

Other highlights from the NCAA Graduation Rates Report:

-- Penn State's four-year federal graduation rate for African-American student-athletes was 76 percent, marking the 18th consecutive year the Nittany Lions topped the Division I national average (53 percent).

-- Of the Penn State student-athletes in the NCAA studies from 1992-93 through 2001-02 who exhausted their eligibility, 96 percent left with their diplomas.

For a chart detailing the comparisons, click on the image at right.

  • For a high-resolution version of this chart, click on the image above.

    IMAGE: Annemarie Mountz

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 18, 2010