Penn State student-athletes continue to exceed national academic averages

May 08, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State student-athletes continue to excel in the classroom and surpass Division I national averages, according to Academic Progress Rate (APR) data released today (May 8)  by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

The NCAA reported that 13 Penn State teams earned perfect APR scores of 1,000 during the 2017-18 academic year, an increase of one from the previous year. A total of 18 teams (out of 29) equaled or surpassed their multiyear (four-year) APR score from the 2018 NCAA APR report and eight squads have a multiyear APR that is at least 10 points higher than the Division I sport average.

Women’s cross country, women’s fencing and men’s golf post perfect multiyear 1,000 APR scores

Three Penn State squads earned perfect multiyear (2014-15 through 2017-18) APR scores of 1,000: women’s cross country, women’s fencing and men’s golf. The women’s cross country team posted its eighth multiyear APR score of 1,000, good for the third-highest total among all Nittany Lion squads since the NCAA began releasing APR data in 2006. The women’s fencing and men’s golf teams earned APR scores of 1,000 for the second consecutive year.

The women’s tennis team has delivered a perfect multiyear APR score in 12 of the 14 years the NCAA has released APR data to lead all Penn State squads. The field hockey team is next with nine 1,000 multiyear APR scores, followed by women’s cross country (eight) and women’s golf (six).

“Congratulations to the student-athletes, coaches, academic advisers and faculty members on another impressive academic performance,” said Penn State President Eric Barron. “The APR scores are a testament to their work ethic, innate intelligence, and commitment to excellence in everything they do. We are … proud of their achievements.”

“Penn State student-athletes consistently validate their desire for commitment to excellence in the classroom and all their academic endeavors,” said Sandy Barbour, vice president for Intercollegiate Athletics. “I am constantly amazed by, and appreciative of, their efforts to demonstrate that high level academic achievement and athletic success can co-exist.

“Penn State’s point of difference is the level to which our students achieve academically while competing for championships,” Barbour added. “This achievement only comes as the result of a collective and dedicated effort. Our coaches, Morgan Academic Center staff, faculty and support staff all deserve our thanks for their contribution to these accomplishments. We are proud of these academic successes, however, each and every day we are determined to try and raise the bar even higher.”

NCAA APR 2019 graphic
IMAGE: Penn State Athletics

Thirteen teams earn perfect 1,000 APR scores in 2017-18

A total of 13 teams earned perfect APR scores of 1,000 during the 2017-18 academic year, an increase of one from the previous year. The 13 squads were: men’s cross country, women’s cross country, men’s fencing, women’s fencing, men’s golf, women’s golf, men’s gymnastics, women’s hockey, men’s lacrosse, women’s lacrosse, men’s swimming and diving, men’s tennis, and women’s track & field.

The Nittany Lions’ men’s gymnastics and men’s lacrosse teams have captured Big Ten championships in 2018-19.

The Penn State women’s cross country, women’s fencing and men’s golf teams have posted four consecutive years with 1,000 yearly APR scores. The men’s fencing, women’s golf, women’s soccer, women’s tennis, women’s track and field, women’s volleyball and wrestling teams have delivered three 1,000 yearly APR scores during the past four years.

Total of 18 squads have multiyear APR at or above overall Division I average

A total of 18 Penn State teams have a multiyear APR score equal to or above the overall Division I average of 983, according to the NCAA. All 29 Nittany Lion squads have a multiyear APR score of 950 or higher (20 points above the NCAA’s 930 figure for possible penalties). The men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field teams are combined in the APR data, reducing the number of Penn State teams from 31 to 29 in the compilation.

Men’s fencing and men’s lacrosse earn double-digit multiyear APR improvement

Among the 18 Penn State squads that equaled or surpassed their multiyear APR score from the 2018 report were: men’s fencing (+13 points), men’s lacrosse (+10), women’s cross country (+6), men’s gymnastics (+5) and men’s hockey (+5).

Penn State teams with multiyear NCAA APR 10+ points higher than the Division I sport average, through 2017-18

                                                 APR                Difference with Sport Avg.

Wrestling                                  996                                + 20

Football                                    979                                + 15

Men’s Golf                              1,000                               + 15

Baseball                                    990                               + 14

Women’s Track & Field            996                              + 13

Women’s Cross Country       1,000                              + 11

Men’s Hockey                           997                               + 11

Men’s Lacrosse                        992                               + 10

Highlights from Penn State’s NCAA Academic Progress Report for 2017-18:

— The women’s cross country, women’s fencing and men’s golf squads earned perfect multiyear APR scores of 1,000 and were joined by the wrestling team in earning NCAA Public Recognition Awards for having an APR in the top 10 percent for their respective sport.

— The 2019 NCAA championship wrestling team earned a multiyear APR score of 996, 20 points above the Division I wrestling average of 976. Penn State again led all Big Ten teams in multiyear APR. The Nittany Lions, who have won eight of the last nine NCAA titles, garnered a fifth consecutive NCAA Public Recognition Award.

— The football team delivered a multiyear APR score of 979, which is 23 points higher (956) than four years ago (end of sanctions period). The Nittany Lions’ multiyear APR is 15 points above Division I average (964) and 11 points higher than the FBS average. The squad’s four-year APR score has been above the Division I average in all 14 annual NCAA APR reports.

— The women’s hockey team earned a multiyear APR score of 997 to lead the four Big Ten women’s hockey teams for the second consecutive year. The Nittany Lions’ APR score is six points higher than the national women’s hockey average of 991.

— The men’s lacrosse team posted a multiyear APR score of 992 to lead the six Big Ten programs. The Nittany Lions’ APR score is 10 points above the national men’s lacrosse average (982). Penn State won the Big Ten men’s lacrosse regular season and tournament titles this spring for the first time and is the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Championship.

— The women’s track and field team’s multiyear APR score of 996 is tied for second in the Big Ten and 13 points higher than the Division I average (983). The women’s cross country squad’s multiyear 1,000 APR score is 11 points above the national average.

— With its perfect 1,000 APR tally, the men’s golf team posted an APR score 15 points higher than the Division I average. The baseball squad’s 990 multiyear APR score was 14 points above the national average (976) and the men’s hockey team was tied for second in the Big Ten with a 997 APR score that was 11 points higher than the Division I average (986).

Penn State among the nation’s most comprehensive and successful athletic programs

Under Barbour's leadership, Penn State has one of the nation’s most comprehensive and successful athletic programs, featuring 800 student-athletes across 31 varsity programs (16 men’s, 15 women’s). Nittany Lion students, who have captured 41 Big Ten championships and a conference-best nine NCAA titles since the 2013 fall semester, consistently have been among the nation's most successful in earning their degrees.

Nittany Lion students have posted an NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 90 percent the past two years, which ties Penn State’ all-time high. Eight teams earned a 100 percent graduation rate in the 2018 NCAA Graduation Rates Report. The Nittany Lions rank No. 4 among all Division I schools with 204 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans all-time, including Kerry Abello and Emily Ogle (women’s soccer) and Blake Gillikin (football) during the fall semester.

Penn State’s 51 NCAA championships all-time (79 national championships overall) rank No. 5 among all NCAA Division I programs and are the highest total of any college or university east of the Mississippi River. Penn State’s 32 NCAA titles since 1992-93, including a fourth consecutive NCAA wrestling championship in March, lead all Big Ten Conference institutions. The Nittany Lions have won 113 Big Ten championships or tournament titles since capturing their first crown in 1992-93, most recently men’s lacrosse on May 4.

Penn State was No. 3 in the 2019 final Winter Learfield IMG College Directors’ Cup standings, earning its 14th consecutive top five Winter Directors’ Cup finish.

Academic Progress Rate

The NCAA released data through 2017-18 as the 14th set of APR results, a formula introduced as part of the Division I Academic Performance Program. The NCAA released sport specific data for 2017-18 to each institution, as well as the most recent four years of collected data that is used to determine a rolling four-year (multiyear) APR score for all athletic teams to provide a meaningful assessment of a team's academic performance.

The NCAA's APR is designed to track the academic progress of each student-athlete on scholarship at a particular institution. It accounts for eligibility, retention and graduation each term to provide a clear measure of each team's academic performance.

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 (multiyear) rolling rate. Penalties can be applied if an athletic team's multiyear APR score is below 930.

Last Updated May 08, 2019