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Penn State Student-Athletes Continue to Exceed National Academic Averages

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Katherine Whiteaway
April 20, 2016

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 by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

The NCAA reported that 13 Penn State teams earned perfect APR scores of 1,000 in 2014-15, up from 10 the previous year. A total of 21 squads equaled or surpassed their multi-year (four-year) APR score from the 2015 report, also an increase of three from the previous year's 18 teams.

Four Penn State squads earned perfect multi-year (2011-12 through 2014-15) APR scores of 1,000: women's cross country, women's hockey, women's soccer and women's tennis.

"Penn State's 800 student-athletes continue to make us proud with their superior performance in competition and in the classroom," said Penn State President Eric Barron. "These metrics are a testament to our student-athletes' work ethic and intelligence, as well as a credit to the coaches, faculty and staff members who nurture and support academic achievement. This type of success is a team effort, and one I'm very pleased has been recognized at a national level."

"Penn State student-athletes consistently demonstrate their commitment to excellence in the classroom and all their academic endeavors," stated Penn State Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour. "I am consistently amazed by, and appreciative of, their efforts to prove that academic achievement and athletic success can co-exist at a high level. Penn State's point of difference is the level to which our student-athletes achieve academically while competing for championships. This achievement only comes as the result of a collective effort, and our coaches, Morgan Academic Center staff, faculty and support staff all deserve our thanks for their contribution to these accomplishments."

The 13 Nittany Lion teams that earned perfect APR scores in 2014-15 are: women's cross country, men's fencing, women's fencing, men's golf, men's gymnastics, women's hockey, men's soccer, women's soccer, softball, women's tennis, men's volleyball, women's volleyball and wrestling.

The Penn State women's soccer, women's volleyball and wrestling squads have all won NCAA Championships since December 2014.

Austin Johnson and Anthony Zettel

Penn State's next highest 2014-15 APR score was earned by the Penn State football team with a 993, improving its APR score for the third consecutive year. The Nittany Lions significantly improved from a 968 APR score in 2013-14 and boosted their multi-year APR score (see more below).

The NCAA released data through 2014-15 as the 11th set of APR results, a formula introduced as part of the Division I Academic Performance Program. The NCAA released sport specific data for 2014-15 to each institution, as well as the most recent four years of collected data that is used to determine a rolling four-year (multi-year) APR score for all athletic teams to provide a meaningful assessment of a team's academic performance.

Penn State Teams with Perfect 1,000 Multi-Year NCAA APR Scores
(Data from 2011-12 through 2014-15)
Women's Cross Country
Women's Hockey
Women's Soccer
Women's Tennis

The average multi-year APR score for Penn State's 29 varsity teams is 984, well above the Division I average of 979, according to the NCAA. All 29 squads have a multi-year APR score of 960 or higher (30 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.

The Penn State women's tennis team has earned 10 multi-year 1,000 APR scores in the 11 years the NCAA has announced multi-year data. The field hockey squad has earned nine multi-year 1,000 APR scores, followed by women's cross country with seven and women's golf with six.

Several Penn State teams ranked first or second among Big Ten Conference institutions in multi-year APR score, including: women's cross country (T, 1st), men's fencing (1st), field hockey (T, 2nd), women's hockey (1st), women's soccer (T, 1st), men's tennis (T, 2nd), women's tennis (T, 1st) and wrestling (2nd).

Overall Highlights of Penn State's Academic Progress Report for 2014-15:

  • The women's cross country, women's hockey, women's soccer and women's tennis teams earned perfect multi-year APR scores of 1,000 and were joined by the wrestling team in earning NCAA Public Recognition Awards (see below)
  • Among Penn State's 29 varsity teams), 19 have a four-year APR score at or above the NCAA Division I average 979 for all sports
  • 19 of 29 teams also have a score equal to or above the NCAA Division I average for their respective sport.

Team Highlights of Penn State's Academic Progress Report for 2014-15:

  • The football team earned a multi-year APR score of 960, an increase of four points from last year (956, end of sanctions period) and above the overall Division I football average of 959 and the Div. I football public institution average of 956. The squad's four-year APR score has been above the Div. I football average in all 11 annual NCAA APR reports.
  • The Nittany Lion basketball team earned an APR score of 970 for the second consecutive year, six points higher than the Division I men's basketball average of 964 and 10 points above the Div. I men's basketball public institution average of 960
  • The women's volleyball squad earned an APR score of 995, up 11 points from last year and 11 points higher than the Division I average. The squad's 2014-15 APR score was 1,000, an improvement of 20 points from the previous year
  • The men's soccer team led all Nittany Lion teams with an improvement of 26 points in their multi-year APR score from last year, going from 946 to 972 (see below chart)
  • The men's hockey team posted an APR score of 976, an improvement of six points from last year. The squad's 2014-15 APR score was 989, up 27 points from the previous year


Wrestling, Baseball Lead Eight Teams With APR Scores At least 10 Points Above Div. I Sport Average:

  • The 2016 NCAA Championship wrestling team delivered an APR score of 992 for the second consecutive year, 22 points higher than the Division I wrestling average of 970 to lead eight Penn State teams with APR scores at least 10 points above the national averages for their sport
  • The baseball squad earned an APR score of 990 for the second straight year, 20 points above the Division I baseball average of 970
  • The 2015 NCAA Championship women's soccer team delivered a perfect APR score of 1,000, 16 points higher than the Division I women's soccer average of 984
  • The women's tennis (+15), 2015 Big Ten Champion women's cross country (+14), men's tennis (+14), women's track and field (+11) and women's volleyball (+11) teams also have multi-year APR scores at least 10 points higher than the Division I average for their sport.

Penn State Teams With Multi-Year APR 10+ Points Higher Than Div. I Sport Average
(Through 2014-15)
Wrestling -- 970 APR + 22
Baseball -- 970 + 20
Women's Soccer -- 1,000 + 16
Women's Tennis -- 1,000 + 15
Women's Cross Country -- 1,000 + 14
Men's Tennis -- 993 + 14
Women's Track & Field -- 992 + 11
Women's Volleyball -- 995 + 11


Five Nittany Lions squads earned multi-year APR scores through 2014-15 that rank in the Top 10 percent nationally for their respective sport: women's cross country, women's hockey, women's soccer and women's tennis teams and wrestling. Earlier this month, those five squads earned NCAA Public Recognition Awards for their superlative APR scores, bringing Penn State's 11-year total to 69 Public Recognition honors.

Penn State student-athletes, who have captured 24 Big Ten Championships and conference-best seven NCAA titles since September 2012, consistently have been among the nation's most successful in earning their degrees. Last October, 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.

Penn State Teams With Biggest Improvement in Multi-Year APR Score from 2015
NCAA Report
Men's Soccer + 26
Women's Volleyball + 11
Women's Tennis + 8
Men's Swimming & Diving + 7
Women's Soccer + 7
Women's Fencing + 6
Men's Hockey + 6
Men's Volleyball + 6


Academic Progress Rate
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 (multi-year) rolling rate. Penalties can be applied if an athletic team's multi-year APR score is below 930.

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