Football team earns national recognition for academic achievement

June 19, 2003

University Park, Pa. -- For the 14th time in the 17 years it has been eligible, Penn State has received honorable mention recognition by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) in the organization's academic achievement award tabulation. The AFCA is in its sixth year of presenting the award. 

Penn State was one of 32 Division I-A institutions to be recognized for having a graduation rate of 70 percent or better for student-athletes who were freshmen during the 1997-98 academic year.

Prior to being recognized in the AFCA survey in 1998-99 and 2001-02, Coach Joe Paterno's program also received honorable mention from the College Football Association (CFA), who previously conducted the survey, in 1985, '87, '88, '89, '91, '92, '93, '94 and '95. In 1996 and '97, Penn State was not a CFA member and was not included in the poll, but did have a graduation rate of better than 70 percent.

Duke had the highest graduation rate among freshmen enrolling in 1997-98 to earn the AFCA's academic cchievement award. The other Big Ten institutions that received honorable mention were Illinois, Michigan, Northwestern and Purdue.

Among the 102 Division I-A institutions that participated to the survey, the overall graduation rate for the Class of 2002 was 59 percent.

In the 2002 NCAA Division I graduation rates report, Penn State football players entering school in 1995-96 graduated at a superlative 88 percent clip, tied for the third-highest rate among all 117 Division I-A programs. The Nittany Lions were tied for the highest graduation rate of any team that played in a bowl game or was ranked in the final polls during the 2002 season. The national average was 52 percent.

The 2002 graduation report also revealed that for African-American football players entering in 1995-96, Penn State's 82 percent graduation rate was almost double the 42 percent national figure,

The Nittany Lions have had 124 Academic All-Big Ten selections in football from 1993-2002 to lead all conference teams. Thirty-two Penn State players earned a 3.0 grade point average or higher during the 2003 spring semester.

Twenty-two Nittany Lions have earned first team Verizon Academic All-America accolades under Paterno, including center Joe Iorio in 2002. Penn State also has had 18 NCAA postgraduate scholarship winners, including Iorio, under the nation's all-time Division I-A coaching victories leader.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 19, 2009