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Championships and Academic Records Boost Penn State Athletics to Outstanding 2015-16

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Raquel Rodriguez
July 21, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.-- Penn State student-athletes produced another outstanding year in 2015-16, highlighted by school-record accomplishments in the classroom and adding to the Nittany Lions' impressive list of national and conference championships.

The Nittany Lions earned NCAA Championships in women's soccer and wrestling and five Big Ten titles in 2015-16 under the leadership of Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour. Eighteen Penn State programs competed in their respective NCAA Championships and the football team played in its 46th bowl game. Thirty Penn State teams overall participated in post-season competition.

In addition to the team successes, Penn State student-athletes delivered four NCAA individual national championships and seven Big Ten individual titles in 2015-16, in addition to numerous athletic and academic accolades.

Nittany Lion student-athletes again shattered numerous academic records this past year, including the number of students earning a 3.0 grade-point average during the fall and spring semesters, 299 Academic All-Big Ten honorees, 81 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars and a record-tying 109 graduates this past May.

The Nittany Lions also substantially increased community engagement to just above 8,000 hours this past year, up from 5,300 hours in 2014-15.

"Great credit belongs to our student-athletes and everyone who supports them," Barbour said. "It's of the utmost importance to Penn State and our alumni community that we strive for, and achieve, comprehensive excellence. Clearly, the 2015-16 results are evidence that we continue to have overall success.

"Our academic achievement metrics have never been better," Barbour added. "Having 63 percent of our students earning a 3.0 GPA or higher and a 3.11 departmental GPA are historical records. These results are the end product of tremendous institutional, alumni and departmental support for our student-athletes. As good as we are, and have been, we know we have room to improve and grow and that's our priority every day. Our potential for even greater results makes me really excited about our future!"

Four Consecutive Years of Increases by Student-Athletes Earning 3.0 GPA:
For the fourth consecutive year, Penn State student-athletes broke the school record for the number of students with a 3.0 GPA or higher during both the fall and spring semesters. The number of students earning a 3.0 GPA in the fall semester has increased 10.5 percent the past four years from 463 in 2012 to 516 last fall.

In addition to an NCAA Graduation Success Rate of 88 percent, 13 Penn State teams earned perfect Academic Progress Rate scores of 1,000, up from 10 the previous year. Four Nittany Lion 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.

Four Nittany Lion student-athletes earned CoSIDA Academic All-America honors in 2015-16: Nico Megaludis (wrestling), Zain Retherford (wrestling), Haleigh Washington (women's volleyball) and Tyler Yazujian (football). Penn State's 193 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans all-time rank No. 4 among Division I institutions.

Penn State Student-Athlete Academic Records in 2015-16:

  • 516 student-athletes with a 3.0 grade-point average or higher during the 2015 fall semester
  • 63 percent of student-athletes with a 3.0 GPA or higher during the 2015 fall semester
  • 482 student-athletes with a 3.0 GPA or higher during the 2016 spring semester
  • 224 student-athletes earned Dean's List honors by posting a GPA of 3.5 or higher during the 2016 semester (12 or more credits)
  • 299 Academic All-Big Ten honorees (3.0 GPA and a letterwinner), including records for the winter (80) & spring/at-large sports (140)
  • 81 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars (3.7 GPA and a letterwinner)
  • Record-tying 109 graduates in May
For the 21st time in 23 years, Penn State earned a Top 20 finish in the Learfield Directors' Cup standings. The Nittany Lions posted their ninth consecutive Top 20 placing in the comprehensive national ranking, finishing No. 20. Penn State is one of only nine programs nationwide to have finished in the Top 25 in all 23 Learfield Directors' Cup final standings.

Nation's Best 18 NCAA Championships since 2007
The wrestling team won its fifth NCAA Championship in the past six years and the women's soccer squad, led by MAC Hermann Trophy winner Raquel Rodriguez, earned its first NCAA title to highlight the Nittany Lions' athletic achievements in 2015-16. Penn State earned five Big Ten titles from the women's cross country, women's soccer and wrestling programs and won the EIVA men's volleyball regular season crown.

Six Nittany Lion programs finished No. 6 nationally or higher in their respective NCAA Championship: women's soccer (champion), wrestling (champion), women's lacrosse (semifinals), men's gymnastics (fifth), men's and women's fencing (sixth).

Since March, 2007, Penn State and USC have won a nation's-best 18 NCAA Championships. The Nittany Lions' 18 titles are double the total of the next-highest Big Ten Conference institution. The Nittany Lions have won 76 team national championships all-time and their 29 NCAA Championships since 1992-93 also are easily the most among Big Ten schools.

Four Nittany Lions captured NCAA individual titles this past year: Andrew Mackiewicz, men's sabre; Nico Megaludis, wrestling, 125 lbs.; Jessie Radanovich, women's epee and Zain Retherford, wrestling, 149 lbs.

With its five titles in 2015-16, Penn State has won 97 Big Ten Championships all-time. The Nittany Lions' 24 Big Ten crowns since the fall of 2012 are tied for second-highest in the conference.

Penn State Athletics Achievements in 2015-16:

  • NCAA women's soccer and wrestling champions
  • Big Ten Champions: women's cross country; women's soccer regular season and tournament; wrestling dual meet season and championship
  • EIVA men's volleyball regular season champions
  • 4 individual NCAA champions
  • 7 individual Big Ten champions
  • 21st Top 20 finish in Learfield Directors' Cup in the 23 years of program

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