School-record 97 student-athletes earn Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Awards

July 18, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State student-athletes have smashed another school academic record, with 97 Nittany Lions earning Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Awards for the 2016-17 academic year.

The record total is an increase of 16 from last year's then-record total of 81. Penn State's five highest Distinguished Scholar totals have come in the past five years, increasing 30 percent since the 2012-13 academic year (68 to 97). Nittany Lion students have broken the school mark for honorees in four of the past five years.

The Nittany Lions' 97 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars were the second-highest total among all conference institutions for 2016-17.

The Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Award is presented to student-athletes who have recorded a minimum grade-point average of 3.7 or higher during the previous academic year and are letterwinners. A complete list of Penn State honorees is available at

The 97 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars continues what has been a record-setting year for Penn State student-athletes, including re-writing marks with a 3.14 combined grade-point average in the spring semester — a record 66 percent with a 3.0 GPA, 114 graduates in May, and a record-tying 299 Academic All-Big Ten honorees.

Penn State Highest Big Ten Distinguished Scholar totals:

  • 2016-17: 97 (school record)
  • 2015-16: 81
  • 2013-14: 73
  • 2014-15: 69
  • 2012-13: 68 (first year with men’s and women’s hockey)

Nine Nittany Lion student-athletes posted perfect 4.0 grade-point averages this past year: Chase Berger, men’s ice hockey; Madison Day, women’s lacrosse; Haleigh Echard, women’s soccer; Kate Granahan, women’s golf; Mackenzie Hornibrook, women’s swimming and diving; Geno Morelli, wrestling; Noah Roberson, men’s gymnastics; Devon Van Cura, wrestling and Tyler Yazujian, football.

The women's track and field team led all Penn State squads with 10 Distinguished Scholars. The NCAA semifinalist women’s lacrosse squad had nine honorees and the NCAA champion wrestling team was third with seven Distinguished Scholars. The field hockey and women’s soccer squads were next with six recipients apiece, followed by the men’s and women’s hockey teams and women’s swimming and diving squad with five Distinguished Scholars each.

Field hockey, men’s hockey, women’s soccer, women’s track and field, and wrestling all won Big Ten titles this past year.

Russ Mushinsky, director of the Morgan Academic Center, reported that seven Penn State teams either led or were tied for first among all Big Ten schools in the number of Distinguished Scholars in their respective sports: women’s basketball, women’s golf, men’s hockey, women’s lacrosse, men’s tennis, women’s tennis and wrestling.

The record 97 honorees boosts Penn State to 604 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars since the program was established by the Big Ten Faculty Representatives in 2008-09 to supplement the Academic All-Big Ten program.

Last Updated July 18, 2017