Penn State student-athletes post record Graduation Success Rate

November 08, 2007

GSR of 88 percent highlights another outstanding academic report

University Park, Pa. -- Penn State student-athletes continue to graduate well above their peers nationwide, according to statistical information recently released by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), with a record academic performance.
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 88 percent compared with a 77 percent average for all Division I institutions for students entering from 1997-98 through 2000-01.
Since 1990, the NCAA has annually released graduation rate information on institutions nationwide from 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 new and more inclusive calculation of student-athlete academic success. The NCAA rate is more accurate than the federally mandated methodology because it includes incoming transfers 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 17 years. Among the 2000-01 entering freshman class, 83 percent of Penn State student-athletes earned degrees within six years, significantly above the 63 percent for all Division I institutions. The graduation rate for all Penn State students was 85 percent in the entering class of 2000-01.
The 83 percent federal rate is tied for Penn State's best performance in the history of the report, with 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 62 percent. The four-year average for University Park students was 84 percent, also far exceeding the 61 percent rate for all students nationwide.
Penn State's student-athlete graduation rates for the 2000-01 freshman class and the four-year average were second-highest in the Big Ten Conference to Northwestern. The Nittany Lions' GSR of 88 percent was tied for second in the conference (with Illinois), trailing only Northwestern.

"High graduation rates don't happen accidentally; they are the result of a strong academic commitment from student-athletes, their faculty and coaches," Penn State President Graham Spanier said. "Penn State athletes have always had a strong graduation rate, and we are proud to see that rate is now even higher."
Data released by the NCAA in October 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 average of 77 percent. Ten Penn State squads earned a Graduation Success Rate of 100 percent and 21 teams had a GSR of 80 percent or better.

African-American student-athletes at Penn State continue to graduate at much higher percentages than at other Division I institutions. A record 90 percent of African-American student-athletes that entered Penn State in 2000-01 graduated, far surpassing all Big Ten institutions and the national average. Northwestern was second in the conference at 69 percent and the national Division I average was 53 percent.

Penn State's four-year federal graduation rate for African-American student-athletes was 74 percent, marking the 17th consecutive year the Nittany Lions topped the Division I national average. At all Division I institutions in the NCAA compilation, the African-American four-year graduation percentile was 53 percent.
The University's African-American student-athlete GSR was 77 percent, again significantly above the Division I national GSR average of 61 percent. Penn State was second in the Big Ten (to Northwestern) in both the four-year federal and GSR figures among African-American student-athletes.
The Penn State football team produced another superb academic performance, earning a graduation rate of 74 percent for the 2000-01 freshmen class, 19 points higher than the national Division I average and second-highest in the Big Ten. Northwestern led at 80 percent. The Nittany Lions' four-year graduation average was 72 percent, again second-highest in the conference and easily surpassing the 56 percent national average.
Coach Joe Paterno's team earned a four-year Graduation Success Rate of 76 percent, well above the 67 percent Division I average and ranking behind only Northwestern among Big Ten teams.
The members of Penn State's 14 women's teams continue to demonstrate exceptional academic achievement, earning a record four-year Graduation Success Rate of 97 percent, compared to the 87 percent national average.

Penn State's female student-athletes among the 2000-01 freshmen class posted a superlative graduation figure of 90 percent, 19 points above the Division I average, to lead all Big Ten institutions. The women earned a four-year graduation rate of 91 percent, which was 20 points better than the national average and surpassed their peers in the University student body (86 percent). Penn State's 91 percent average was surpassed only by Northwestern (92) among Big Ten institutions.
Penn State's male student-athletes earned an accomplished four-year graduation rate of 75 percent, which was 19 percentage points better than the Division I national average of 56 percent. The Nittany Lions' four-year and 2000-01 freshman graduation rates (77 percent) trailed only Northwestern among conference brethren.
Nittany Lion male student-athletes posted a four-year Graduation Success Rate of 81 percent, compared to the 70 percent national average among Division institutions, tied with Illinois for second-highest in the Big Ten.
Of the Penn State student-athletes in the NCAA studies from 1991-92 through 2000-01 who exhausted their eligibility, 95 percent left with their diplomas.
Working with the staff of the Morgan Academic Support Center for Student-Athletes and their coaches, Penn State's student-athletes consistently are among the nation's most successful in earning their degrees. Three times in the past five years, Penn State student-athletes have posted the highest federal graduation rate among the nation's public institutions.
This is the 17th release of institutional graduation rates since national "right-to-know" legislation was passed in 1990.
The impressive graduation report comes amidst another successful fall athletic season, which includes the 10th consecutive Big Ten Championship by the women's soccer team. The women's volleyball team is ranked No. 1 in the nation in its bid for a fifth straight Big Ten title. The field hockey team has earned its 24th NCAA Championship berth and will play Virginia in the first round on Saturday. The Nittany Lion football team has two games remaining and could earn its third consecutive January bowl berth.

Click on the chart for a second chart comparing several key categories in the 2007 NCAA Graduation Rates Report, which covers the entering class of 2000-01 who earned degrees within six years (GSR percentages are four-year averages for entering classes 1997-98 through 2000-01).

  • Click on the chart to view a larger version as well as a second chart that compares several key categories in the 2007 NCAA Graduation Rates Report.

    IMAGE: Penn State Public Information

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Last Updated November 18, 2010