Nittany Lion Club donors boost support for student-athletes by $5.5M

August 17, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Nittany Lion Club members again demonstrated why Penn State has the nation’s most passionate and loyal supporters during the 2016-17 academic year.

More than 23,000 donors committed more than $39 million in philanthropic support for Penn State student-athletes through the annual fund, endowed scholarships, capital projects, the Morgan Academic Center, and premium seating during the year ending June 30, 2017. The total is an increase of approximately $5.5 million over the prior year’s commitments.

“We are grateful for the support of our engaged Nittany Lion Club members in embracing our commitment to providing Penn State student-athletes with the resources they need to achieve comprehensive excellence," said Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour. “The Penn State community is so passionate about empowering our amazing student-athletes and creating conditions for their success.”

Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics’ annual giving program, the Levi Lamb Fund, grew to $17.2 million this past year, up from $16.2 million during the prior year. The Nittany Lion Club also welcomed 3,450 new members to the organization over the past year.  Donors at all giving levels played a critical role in this growth, as those who gave $500 or less collectively contributed more than $3.8 million.

The Levi Lamb Fund makes possible grant-in-aid support for approximately 800 Penn State student-athletes each year and helps ensure comprehensive excellence by generating resources to support operating expenses for all 31 varsity teams.

"We appreciate all the donors whose philanthropy impacted Penn State student-athletes' educational and competitive experiences over the past year,” said Joe Foley, senior associate athletic director for advancement. “The young men and women who compete for the Nittany Lions are among the most talented and driven in the world and could not make the most of their Penn State experience without generosity and support from our donors."

In addition, the Nittany Lion Club received 33 major gift commitments of $100,000 or more during the past year, which included six new commitments of $1 million or more. Major gifts from donors totaling $5.6 million were used to help fund the construction of the new Panzer Stadium for men’s and women’s lacrosse. Panzer Stadium was made possible through the lead gift of $3.55 million from former lacrosse co-captain and 1982 alumnus Ken Panzer and his business partner Jordan Kaplan. Construction began this month and Panzer Stadium is scheduled to open for competition by the 2018 fall semester.

Nittany Lion Club members also gave more than $1 million to support the Morgan Academic Center in 2016-17, in addition to gifts in prior years, during the first year for the student-athlete academic hub in its new location on campus. The impact of NLC members helped Penn State student-athletes earn an 89 percent NCAA Graduation Success Rate, with a record 66 percent of them garnering at least a 3.0 grade-point average during the 2017 spring semester. Nittany Lion students combined for a record 3.14 GPA during the spring and another mark was broken when 114 of them graduated this past May.

The support of Nittany Lion Club members has greatly assisted Penn State in winning 31 Big Ten championships during the last five years, including seven this past year, and 19 NCAA titles since 2007, which ranks No. 4 nationally. The Nittany Lions finished No. 8 in the Learfield Directors’ Cup in 2016-17, their fourth top-10 finish in the past five years, and 12th top-10 finish in the 24 years of the Directors’ Cup.

For information about joining the Nittany Lion Club, call 1-800-NITTANY or visit

Gifts from Penn State’s alumni and friends have been essential to the success of the University’s historic land-grant mission to serve the public good. To fulfill that mission for a new era of rapid change and global connections, the University has begun “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” a fast-paced campaign focused on the three key imperatives of a public university. Private support will keep the door to higher education open and enable students to graduate on time and on track to success; create transformative experiences on Penn State campuses and around the globe that tap the full potential of Penn Staters to make a difference; and impact the world through discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more, visit

Last Updated August 17, 2017