School Record 65 Student-Athletes Earn Winter Academic All-Big Ten Accolades
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., April 24, 2014 - A school record 65 Penn State student-athletes from eight winter teams have earned Academic All-Big Ten honors. The previous mark for the winter sports season was 64 honorees, set in 2013.
The 65 winter honorees brings Penn State's 2013-14 total to 149 (from 15 total sports).
Head coach Tim Murphy's women's swimming and diving team led Penn State's winter sports with 16 Academic All-Big Ten recipients while the men's swimming and diving team had 13. Coach Guy Gadowsky's men's ice hockey team garnered 15 Academic all-conference selections, the most in the conference. Coach Jeff Thompson's women's gymnastics team had six Academic All-Big Ten honorees, the second-highest total in the conference, and Coach Patrick Chambers'men's basketball team was tied for third with three Academic all-conference honorees.
Of the 65 Winter Academic All-Big Ten honorees, many achieved All-American status in the competitive arena as well. Four of head coach Cael Sanderson's Academic All-Big Ten wrestlers also earned All-America honors: Matt Brown (West Valley City, Utah), James English (York), Nico Megaludis (Murrysville) and David Taylor(St. Paris, Ohio). Taylor won his second NCAA title and second Hodge Trophy Award as the nation's top wrestler this past season.
Women's gymnast Kassidy Stauder (Palmerton) was an All-American in the balance beam and men's gymnast Craig Hernandez (Libertyville, Ill.) earned All-America honors in the pommel horse. Women's swimmer Alyson Ackman (Montreal, Quebec) was a first team All-American. Lady Lion basketball standout Ariel Edwards (Elmont, N.Y.) earned first-team All-Big Ten accolades and Nittany Lion basketball standout Tim Frazier(Houston, Texas) also was an all-conference honoree in 2013-14.
The academic honors come at the conclusion of an outstanding winter season that helped boost Penn State to No. 2 in the most recent Learfield Sports Directors' Cup standings. The Nittany Lion men's and women's fencing teams claimed their 13th combined National Championship and the wrestling team win its fourth consecutive NCAA title. The wrestlers also won their fourth-straight Big Ten Championship and the women's basketball team won the Big Ten regular season crown for the third consecutive year. In addition, the Penn State men's and women's gymnastics teams advanced to their respective NCAA Championships.
The women's indoor track and field team also won the Big Ten Championship. The Academic All-Big Ten honorees for the men's and women's track and field teams will be included in the spring and at-large sports, as well as women's hockey.
The Big Ten Conference recognized a total of 678 winter sports student-athletes as part of the Academic All-Conference team. To be eligible for Academic All-Big Ten selection, student-athletes must be letterwinners who are in at least their second academic year at their institution and carry a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher.
Penn State student-athletes, who have captured a conference-best 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 record total of 387 awards were presented to Penn State student-athletes at the 27th Annual SAAB Academic Achievement Awards Banquet on April 15. The figure topped last year's record of 356;
- 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 in the Big Ten;
- 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.