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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.-- A record-tying 109 Penn State student-athletes are scheduled to graduate during Commencement exercises this weekend on the University Park campus. Nittany Lion student-athletes from 30 programs have been approved to receive their diplomas.
The 109 student-athletes ties the school record set during the 2013 spring semester and are an increase of eight from last spring's 101 graduates. Including the 2015 fall semester, 140 student-athletes have earned their diplomas so far in 2015-16, with approximately 15 more on schedule to graduate in August.
Penn State student-athletes are pacing ahead of last year's totals, which saw 128 graduates through the spring semester, and 146 overall for 2014-15.
The football team has 12 student-athletes on the approved to graduate list to lead the Penn State programs. Men's hockey (8), baseball (7), men's fencing (7), softball (7), women's hockey (6), wrestling (6) and men's swimming and diving (5) all have five or more student-athletes who are earning their degrees this weekend.
A total of 18 Penn State student-athletes who have helped lead teams to NCAA Championships are listed among those approved to graduate, including members of the women's volleyball, men's and women's fencing, women's soccer and wrestling teams.
Former All-America tackle Levi Brown is approved to earn his third Penn State degree this weekend, a master's degree via Penn State's World Campus.
In addition, former CoSIDA Academic All-American and Campbell Trophy recipient John Urschel is giving the commencement address at Saturday morning's Eberly College of Science ceremony. A guard/center with the Baltimore Ravens, Urschel has been working on a Ph.D. in Mathematics at MIT this semester.
Since the 2012 fall semester, when many of this weekend's graduates enrolled, Penn State student-athletes have won a Big Ten-leading seven NCAA Championships and 24 Big Ten Championships, the conference's second-highest total over the past four years. The Nittany Lions ended the winter season in fifth place, their 11th consecutive top five finish, in the Learfield Directors' Cup standings.
Penn State student-athletes consistently are among the nation's most successful in earning their degrees. Among some of the recent academic accomplishments are:
- Penn State student-athletes have an NCAA Graduation Success Rate of 88 percent and have earned 191 Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-America selections, the fourth-highest total among Division I programs.
-The NCAA reported this spring that 13 Penn State teams earned perfect Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores of 1,000 in 2014-15, up from 10 the previous year. 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 student-athletes again broke school standards during the 2015 fall semester, with a record 516 earning a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher (previous high of 500 in 2014). Among the 516 Nittany Lion student-athletes earning at least a 3.0 GPA, 234 garnered Dean's List honors during the 2015 fall semester by posting a GPA of 3.50 or higher, the second-highest total in school history.
- The combined average GPA was 3.11 among Penn State's 31 varsity sports during the 2015 fall semester. A record-tying 23 squads earned a team GPA of 3.0 or higher during the semester.
-The number of Penn State student-athletes earning a 3.0 GPA during the fall semester has increased 10.5 percent since 2012 (463 to 516).
-With spring honors yet to be determined, Penn State has 159 Academic All-Big Ten honorees so far this year, its second highest total in school history through the winter sports season (164 in 2012-13). Penn State leads all conference institutions with 5,436 Academic All-Big Ten honorees since 1991-92, its first year of competition in some Big Ten sports. Ohio State is second with 5,308 over the past 25 years.