Penn State student-athletes surpass national averages for academic progress

June 13, 2013

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State student-athletes continue to make better progress toward graduation in comparison with the nation's Division I institutions, according to data released Tuesday (June 11) by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

Six Penn State squads earned perfect multi-year APR scores of 1,000: field hockey, men's cross country, women's cross country, women's golf, men's tennis and women's tennis. The average multi-year APR score for Penn State's 29 varsity teams is 984, easily above the Division I average of 974, according to the NCAA.

The NCAA released data from the 2011-12 academic year as the ninth set of results in the Academic Progress Rate (APR), a formula introduced as part of the Division I Academic Performance Program. The NCAA released sport specific data for 2011-12 to each institution, as well as the most recent four years of collected data that is used to determine a rolling four-year (multi-year) APR score for all athletic teams to provide a meaningful assessment of a team's academic performance.

"Ranking among the very top of the Big Ten universities is a great achievement and a wonderful credit to our talented student-athletes, coaches, faculty and staff!" said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. "I applaud their dedication to high standards and their commitment to success - in athletics and academics. Their efforts bring honor to Penn State and are greatly appreciated by the entire Penn State community."

"We are very proud of the record of academic heritage and achievement established by our student-athletes," stated Penn State Director of Athletics Dave Joyner. "We are very pleased with this latest report of our academic successes. The academic achievements are a testament to our student-athletes, coaches, the Morgan Academic Support Center for Student-Athletes and the University as a whole as evidence of the commitment to educate and prepare our students for life beyond their Penn State experience."

Highlights of Penn State's Academic Progress Report for 2011-12:

- The Penn State field hockey, men's cross country, women's cross country, women's golf, men's tennis and women's tennis teams earned perfect APR scores of 1000;
- Among Penn State's 29 varsity teams (men's and women's hockey will be included in the 2012-13 data), 20 have a four-year APR score at or above the NCAA Division I average (974) for all sports;
- 22 of 29 teams have a score equal to or above the NCAA Division I average for their respective sport;
- 29 of 29 Penn State teams have an APR score of 950 or higher (20 points above the NCAA's 930 figure for possible penalties);
- The Penn State football team earned an APR score of 961, 12 points higher than the Division I football average of 949;
- The Nittany Lion basketball team earned an APR score of 974, 22 points higher than the Division I men's basketball average of 952;
- The Lady Lion basketball team earned an APR score of 985, 13 points higher than the Division I women's basketball average of 972;

Eight Nittany Lions squads have multi-year APR scores that rank in the Top 10 percent nationally for their respective sport: field hockey, men's cross country, women's cross country, women's golf, men's indoor track and field, men's outdoor track and field, men's tennis, women's tennis. Earlier this month, those eight squads earned NCAA Public Recognition Awards for their superlative APR scores.

The Penn State women's tennis team is one of only 166 teams among the 6,408 eligible (2.6 percent) that has earned eight consecutive Public Recognition Awards since the program began with APR data from 2004-05.

Penn State academic standards (Faculty Senate Policy 67-00) are higher than both the NCAA and Big Ten standards and are reflected in the APR reporting to the NCAA. Penn State student-athletes must have a higher grade point average than the NCAA and Big Ten minimum after their first through fifth semesters.

The APR scores are a measure of eligibility and retention/graduation for each student-athlete receiving athletic aid during the identified academic semester/year. Retention is evaluated for each student-athlete with the following question in mind: Did that student-athlete return to the institution the next semester (students can earn two points after the fall semester and two points after the spring and summer semesters). Eligibility is evaluated using NCAA, conference (if applicable), and institutional standards.

The APR is based on four years of data, with the most current year's data added and the oldest year removed to create a four-year (multi-year) rolling rate. Penalties can be applied if an athletic team's multi-year APR score is below 930.

Penn State student-athletes, who won a school record 11 conference championships in 2012-13, including eight Big Ten titles, consistently have been among the nation's most successful in earning their degrees. Among some of the recent academic accomplishments are:

- The NCAA's annual study of institutions nationwide in October, 2012 revealed that Penn State student-athletes at the University Park campus earned a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 88 percent compared to an 80 percent average for all Division I institutions. The 88 percent figure was third-highest among Big Ten Conference institutions.

- The NCAA four-year federal graduation rate average for University Park student-athletes was 78 percent, significantly higher than the national average of 64 percent, and second to Northwestern (88) among Big Ten institutions.

- Among the 2005-06 entering freshman class, 80 percent of Penn State student-athletes earned degrees within six years, well above the 65 percent average for all Division I institutions, according to the NCAA.

- A total of 109 current and former Penn State student-athletes graduated this past May.

- A school record of 296 Nittany Lion student-athletes earned Academic All-Big Ten honors in 2012-13, shattering the previous record of 261.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated June 19, 2013