More Than 55 Nittany Lions Named Big Ten Distinguished Scholars

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Bridget Franek

Bridget Franek

July 16, 2010

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Big Ten Conference has recognized a total of 484 student-athletes who have been selected as recipients of the Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Award. In its second year, the award honors student-athletes who have earned a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.7 or higher during another highly-successful academic year.

A total of 57 Penn State student-athletes were selected for the Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Award, the second-highest total among all conference institutions. Twenty-one sports were represented by Nittany Lion honorees, led by women's swimming and diving (7), women's soccer and field hockey (6), softball and women's track and field (5), men's gymnastics (4) and women's cross country, men's swimming and diving and football (3).

Ten of Penn State's Distinguished Scholar Award recipients earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average during the 2009-10 academic year: Jessica Babcock (women's cross country/track & field, elementary education, Irvine, Calif.), Robert McClaren (men's fencing, criminal justice, Holley, N.Y.), Stefen Wisniewski (football, secondary education, Pittsburgh, Pa.), Miguel Pineda (men's gymnastics, science, Galloway, Ohio), Logan Wyman (men's gymnastics, classics & ancient Mediterranean studies, Phoenix, Md.), William Donley (men's lacrosse, journalism, Pittsburgh, Pa.), Tara Davies (women's soccer, elementary education, Cape May, N.J.), Ashley Griffith (softball, kinesiology, Mount Laurel, N.J.), Rebecca Snyder (women's swimming, education, Harmony, Pa.) and Rachel NeMoyer (women's track & field, science, Orchard Park, N.Y.).

Griffith was the female recipient of the Big Ten Medal of Honor and was also named to the CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Third Team. Wisniewski is one of three football players to make the list of winners. He is a two-time Academic All-American, earning second team honors in 2008 and firs team honors in 2009.

Also among Penn State's Distinguished Scholars are: NCAA Steeplechase Champion Bridget Franek (cross country/track & field, kinesiology, Hiram, Ohio), three members of the NCAA Champion men's and women's fencing teams, All-American gymnasts Noam Shaham (engineering science, Kfar Saba, Israel) and Brandi Personett (nursing, Katy, Texas) and Ryan Wolf (division of undergraduate studies, York, Pa.), a member of the 2010 NCAA Runner-up men's volleyball team.

These are just the latest honors for Penn State student-athletes during a particularly successful academic year. The Nittany Lions totaled 10 Academic All-Americans in 2009-10 and have a total of 21 during the past two years, a school record for a two-year period.

In February of 2008, Big Ten Faculty Representatives established a conference academic recognition to supplement the Academic All-Big Ten program. Similar to the Academic All-Big Ten honor, Distinguished Scholar Award recipients must be letterwinners in at least their second academic year at their institution. However, the Distinguished Scholar Award encompasses only student-athletes with a minimum GPA of 3.7 or higher for the previous academic year, excluding summer school. The Academic All-Big Ten threshold is a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher for a student-athlete's academic career.

A complete list of Penn State's 2009-10 Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Award winners is available here.

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