Graduation Success Rate of 88 Percent Highlights Another Superb Academic Report; Five Teams Earn 100 Percent Graduation; Men’s Basketball 26 Points Above Div. I Average

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. –¬†Penn State student-athletes continue to graduate well above their peers nationwide, earning strong academic performances, according to statistical information released by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

The NCAA’s annual study of institutions across the nation revealed Penn State student-athletes at the University Park campus earned a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 88 percent compared to the 83 percent average for all Division I institutions for students entering from 2005-06 through the 2008-09 academic year. The 88 percent figure is just two points off Penn State’s 90 percent record mark.

Penn State’s entering 2008-09 freshman class of student-athletes delivered an improvement of three points from the previous year by posting an 80 percent Graduation Success Rate, 13 points above the Division I average of 67 percent.

The NCAA data revealed student-athletes from five Penn State squads earned a Graduation Success Rate of 100 percent, as the men’s basketball, field hockey, men’s golf, softball and women’s tennis teams all posted perfect graduation scores.

Basketball and Football Programs Again Exceed National Averages
For the sixth consecutive year, the Penn State football (81 percent compared to 72 in Division I and FBS), Nittany Lion basketball (100 to 74 percent) and Lady Lion basketball (90 to 86 percent) teams all earned four-year Graduation Success Rates at least four points higher than the national average for their sports. The men’s basketball graduation figure was 26 points higher than the Division I average.

Penn State consistently ranked in the top five among Big Ten Conference institutions across a variety of key NCAA graduation data comparisons (see below):

“Once again, Penn State student-athletes have shown their dedication and commitment — not only to their sport — but more importantly to their academics,” said Penn State President Eric J. Barron. “Student-athletes possess tremendous discipline and drive, and we are enormously proud of their accomplishments. In turn, our coaches and our staff members have shown strong leadership and support for Penn State athletes who are gaining the education and skills needed to be successful in their professional lives beyond sports. Congratulations to everyone who is a part of this tremendous story of achievement.”

“The NCAA graduation rate figures are continued confirmation of our communities’ commitment to outstanding student-athlete academic performance,” said Penn State Director of Athletics¬†Sandy Barbour. “These achievements are a tribute to our student-athletes and the support they receive from our dedicated Morgan Academic Center staff, their coaches, faculty and administration. No matter how strong our academic metrics and accomplishments may be, though, we are always striving to improve every day.”

Eighteen Nittany Lion Teams Surpass National GSR Average
Eighteen of the Nittany Lions’ 25 teams (men’s and women’s track and field/cross country teams combined) earned a Graduation Success Rate at or above the national GSR average of 83 percent. (The NCAA data does not include the Penn State men’s and women’s hockey teams, which became varsity sports in the 2012-13 academic year.)

The excellent graduation data comes during a fall sports season that has seen Penn State win Big Ten Championships in women’s cross country and women’s soccer, with other titles to be contested. Sixty-two percent of Nittany Lion student-athletes earned at least a 3.0 grade-point average during the 2015 spring semester and a school record 500 Nittany Lion students posted a 3.0 GPA or higher during the 2014 fall semester. A total of 277 student-athletes garnered Academic All-Big Ten accolades in 2014-15 (cumulative 3.0 GPA or higher).

This is the 25th annual release of institutional graduation rates since national “right-to-know” legislation was passed in 1990. In 2005, the NCAA Division I Committee on Academic Performance implemented the initial release of the team GSR data.

The GSR is the NCAA’s more inclusive calculation of academic success among scholarship student-athletes. The NCAA rate is more accurate than the federally mandated methodology because it includes incoming transfers and students enrolling in the spring semester who receive athletic aid and graduate, and deletes from the calculation student-athletes who leave an institution and were academically eligible to compete. The federal rate does neither.

Federal Graduation Rate 13 Points Above Division I Average
In addition to releasing each institution’s overall four-year Graduation Success Rate, the NCAA also released the federal graduation rates for students and student-athletes as it has for the past 25 years. The four-year federal graduation rate average for University Park student-athletes was 79 percent, the same as last year, No. 3 among Big Ten institutions, and significantly above the 66 percent Division I average. The four-year average for University Park students was 86 percent, exceeding the 65 percent rate for all students nationwide by 21 points.

Among the other highlights of the federal graduation rate compilation, Penn State’s male student-athletes were ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten and Nittany Lion female student-athletes were No. 3 in the conference. The Penn State men’s basketball program ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten in federal graduation rate and the football program was No. 3 in the conference.

2015 NCAA Graduation Rates Report Key Comparisons:

All Students (four-year federal)
Penn State 86 percent Division I average: 64 percent
Student-Athletes (four-year Graduation Success Rate)
Penn State 88 percent Division I: 83 percent
Big Ten rankings: 1. Northwestern (97 percent), T5. Penn State (88 percent)
Student-Athletes (four-year federal)
Penn State 79 percent Division I: 66 percent
Big Ten rankings: 1. Northwestern (90 percent), 3. Penn State (79 percent)
Student-Athletes (entering class of 2008-09)
Penn State 80 percent Division I: 67 percent
Big Ten rankings: 1. Northwestern (93 percent), 3. Penn State (80 percent)
Female Student-Athletes (four-year GSR)
Penn State 94 percent Division I: 90 percent
Big Ten rankings: 1. Northwestern (99 percent), T 7. Penn State (94 percent)
Male Student-Athletes (four-year GSR)
Penn State 84 percent Division I: 78 percent
Big Ten rankings: 1. Northwestern (96 percent), 3. Penn State (84 percent)
Men’s Basketball Student-Athletes (four-year GSR)
Penn State 100 percent Division I: 74 percent
Big Ten rankings: T 1. Penn State, Iowa, Rutgers (100 percent)
Women’s Basketball Student-Athletes (four-year GSR)
Penn State 90 percent Division I: 86 percent
Big Ten rankings: 1. 6 schools (100 percent), 11. Penn State (90 percent)
Football Student-Athletes (four-year GSR)
Penn State 81 percent Div. I and FBS: 72 percent
Big Ten rankings: 1. Northwestern (97 percent), T 4. Penn State (81 percent)
Click here for original release.