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April 16, 2014
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A record total of 387 awards were presented to Penn State student-athletes Tuesday night at the 27th Annual SAAB Academic Achievement Awards Banquet at the Bryce Jordan Center. The figure topped last year's then record total of 356 awards.
Sponsored by the Milton and Lois Morgan Academic Support Center for Student-Athletes and the Student-Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB), a record 295 awards were presented to student-athletes for their academic accomplishments in 2012-13. That figure tops last year's then-record mark of 269.
In addition, 105 awards (also an all-time high) were made to seniors who had a 3.0 or higher grade-point average through the 2013 Fall Semester, eclipsing the record of 96 set during 2011-12.
Penn State's 31 varsity teams combined to earn a grade-point average of 3.10, with the 15 women's programs posting a 3.26 GPA. A total of 21 teams earned a GPA of 3.0 or higher. There are more than 800 Penn State student-athletes on varsity teams.
Coach Denise St. Pierre's women's golf team and coach Greg Nye's men's golf team won the Varsity `S' Awards, presented to the men's and women's teams with the highest team GPAs. The women's golf team earned the Milt Morgan Jr. Highest Team GPA Award for all sports.
The Nittany Lion Club annually presents the True Grit Award to two student-athletes for overcoming adversities while continuing to succeed in the classroom and on the athletic field during their careers. Football Academic All-District honoree Ben Kline (Seven Valleys) and women's gymnast Sidney Sanabria-Robles (Caguas, Puerto Rico) were recognized as the recipients during the banquet.
For the seventh time, the SAAB Awards (Student-Athletes Above and Beyond) were presented. The recipients were women's volleyball player Maggie Harding (State College) and men's track and field athlete Dan Jordan (Boalsburg, Pa.). Awards for THON were presented to the student-athlete and team that raised the most donations for the Four Diamonds Fund and THON. The team recipient was women's golf, with Harding, an NCAA Elite 89 winner, earning the individual honor.
The CHAMPS Cup Awards for community outreach were presented for the ninth time. Claiming the small teams (20 or fewer on roster) award was the women's gymnastics team. The large teams (20 or more on roster) award went to Penn State's NCAA Champion wrestling squad.
In addition, 29 Penn State student-athletes were recognized for participating in the Athletic Director's Leadership Institute.
Penn State student-athletes, who have captured a 15 Big Ten Championships and four NCAA titles the past two years, have been among the nation's most successful in earning their degrees. A sampling of recent academic accomplishments includes:
- A school record 468 Penn State student-athletes earned a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher during the 2013 fall semester, with 197 earning Dean's List recognition;
- A total of 84 Penn State student-athletes from seven fall sports earned 2013 Academic All-Big Ten accolades, the Nittany Lions' second-highest total in their 21 years as Big Ten members;
- The NCAA's annual study of institutions nationwide in October, 2013 revealed that Penn State student-athletes at the University Park campus earned a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 88 percent compared to an 81 percent average for all Division I institutions for students entering from 2003-04 through 2006-07;
- NCAA data last October also showed the four-year federal graduation rate average for Penn State student-athletes was 78 percent, significantly higher than the national average of 65 percent, and tied for second among Big Ten Conference institutions;
- Penn State's Katie Slay (women's volleyball) and John Urschel (football) earned first-team Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-America honors last fall, with Slay being selected the Academic All-American of the Year for women's volleyball. Penn State has had 184 all-time honorees, the third-highest total among Division I institutions, with 38 Academic All-Americans honorees the past six years.