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May 14, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. ; - Eighty-one Penn State student-athletes are scheduled to graduate during Commencement exercises this weekend on the University Park campus.
Student-athletes from 21 of the 25 varsity sports (track and field/cross country are combined) are among the 81 student-athletes that have been approved to graduate. In addition, 11 members of the cheerleading and Lionettes dance teams are on the approved to graduate list.
The 81 total gives Penn State its two highest spring graduation totals this decade during the past two years, as 83 student-athletes earned their degrees in May, 2008.
Among the 2009 graduates are the Big Ten's all-time leading placekicker Kevin Kelly (football); Christa Harmotto, a first team All-American and the 2008 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American of the Year in women's volleyball; a starter for the 2009 NIT Champions, Stanley Pringle (men's basketball), three-time ECAC Goalkeeper of Year Drew Adams (men's lacrosse) and 2008 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Ali Scola (field hockey).
Also graduating are 13 student-athletes whose teams have captured national championships during their Penn State careers, including Roberta Holehouse (women's volleyball), Max Holt (men's volleyball), and Allison Glasser (fencing).
Five members of the Nittany Lion football team will be graduating prior to their senior seasons - punter Jeremy Boone, receiver Patrick Mauti, tackle Nerraw McCormack, linebacker Jerome Hayes and kick snapper Andrew Pitz, a 2008 First Team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American. Record-setting quarterback Anthony Morelli, who signed with the Arizona Cardinals in 2008, also will graduate.
Also, two-sport standout and Academic All-Big Ten honoree Paul Cianciolo (football, baseball) will receive his MBA this weekend after earning his undergraduate degree in Finance in August, 2007.
Some of the other graduates include: two-time All-American Aleesha Barber (women's track & field), who helped Penn State to a program-best seventh place finish at the 2009 NCAA Indoor Championships; 2008 First Team All-Big Ten defender and four-time Big Ten Champion Jessie Davis (women's soccer); four-year starter, three-time Academic All-District honoree, and Penn State's all-time leader in doubles, Danielle Kinley (softball); Adam Slagter, whose singles win helped clinch the men's tennis program's first-ever NCAA postseason victory in 2007; and All-America wrestler Jake Strayer.
The men's track and field/cross country team has the most graduates this spring with nine, followed by football (eight), men's lacrosse, women's lacrosse and men's swimming and diving (six) and women's swimming and diving, women's track and field/cross country and wrestling with five each.
Penn State's student-athletes, who have captured 17 Big Ten Championships during the past four years and six NCAA titles in the past two years, consistently have been among the nation's most successful in earning their degrees. Among some of their recent academic accomplishments are:
- A school record nine Nittany Lion student-athletes were selected to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America® team during the 2008 Fall semester, including six first team honorees.
- Earlier this month, the NCAA reported that three Penn State squads have a perfect multi-year Academic Progress Rate score of 1,000 - field hockey, women's lacrosse and women's tennis - and that 23 of Penn State's 29 varsity programs have a four-year APR score at or above the Division I average for their respective sports
- According to 2008 NCAA data, Penn State's 2001-02 entering freshman class earned a record 84 percent federal graduation rate among student-athletes, significantly above the 64 percent for all Division I institutions. The four-year federal graduation rate average for University Park student-athletes was 82 percent, again well above the national average of 63 percent, and second to Northwestern (88) in the Big Ten.
- Of the Penn State student-athletes in the NCAA studies from 1992-93 through 2001-02 who exhausted their eligibility, 96 percent left with their diplomas.