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STATE of Excellence Week to Celebrate Student-Athlete Achievements

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Sept. 21, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.-- Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics will highlight the varied and numerous achievements by its 800 student-athletes during the first STATE of Excellence Week, set for September 26-October 1.

The Nittany Lions will celebrate four aspects of student-athlete success and experience -- cultural, social, academic and athletic -- with a different facet highlighted each day from Sept. 26-29. The week will culminate with team and individual champions being recognized at the Minnesota football game in Beaver Stadium on October 1 (3:30 p.m. kick).

The student-athlete achievements will be celebrated via a series of events, video presentations and social media throughout the week.

"I am excited to launch our STATE of Excellence Week and recognize the accomplishments of our outstanding student-athletes," stated Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour. "All Penn Staters should be proud of the dedication and persistence our students demonstrate whether they are competing, with their academic pursuits and community engagement. This will be a special week celebrating the many achievements of our student-athletes."

Penn State has one of the nation's most comprehensive and successful athletic programs in the nation, with 800 student-athletes across 31 programs (16 men's and 15 women's). The Nittany Lions have won 76 team national championships and 97 Big Ten Conference crowns all-time and their 29 NCAA Championships since 1992-93 are the most of any Big Ten institution.

Penn State student-athletes have an NCAA Graduation Success Rate of 88 percent and have earned 193 Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-America selections, the fourth-highest total among Division I programs.

STATE of Excellence Week; September 26-October 1

Monday, September 26 - Cultural
The diversity of Penn State's student-athletes, the recent international trips taken by Nittany Lion teams and the University's study abroad programs will be highlighted. During the past year, Penn State squads have made cultural and competitive trips to Canada, Cuba, Greece and The Netherlands.

Tuesday, September 27 - Social
Student-athlete involvement in the community will be highlighted. Penn State student-athletes completed more than 8,000 hours of community engagement in 2015-16.

Wednesday, September 28 -- Academic
Penn State student-athletes' commitment to academic excellence and the support provided by The Morgan Academic Center and ICA staff, faculty, fans and donors will be feted. The Athletics staff will gather for a celebration of academic achievements in the Bryce Jordan Center.

The 2015-16 academic year saw seven school academic records broken by Penn State student- athletes, including:

  • 516 student-athletes earning at least a 3.0 grade-point average during the fall 2015 semester (63 percent, also a record);
  • 229 Academic All-Big Ten honorees (3.0 GPA and a letterwinner)
  • 81 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars (3.7 GPA and a letterwinner)
  • Record-tying 109 graduates following the 2016 spring semester.
Thursday, September 29 -- Athletic
Penn State student-athletes' commitment to athletic excellence will be discussed during a Coaches panel that is open to the public. The panel will include coaches Erica Dambach (women's soccer), Wes Glon (fencing) and Cael Sanderson, all of whom have captured NCAA Championships in the past two years. Women's rugby head coach Kate Daley also will be a panelist after guiding Penn State to the 2016 USA Rugby College 15s national title, its fifth consecutive crown.

The Coaches panel will be held at the Penn State All-Sports Museum from 7:15-8:00 p.m., hosted by Steve Jones, the voice of the Nittany Lions. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and parking is available in Lot 44, just south of Beaver Stadium.

Friday, September 30 -- Competition STATE of Excellence Week activities will pause for competition on Sept. 30 as three Nittany Lion teams are at home:

  • 5 p.m. -- Field hockey vs. Michigan State;
  • 6 p.m. -- Women's soccer vs. Illinois;
  • 7 p.m. -- Women's volleyball vs. Michigan State.
Saturday, October 1 -- Recognition
The Nittany Lion football team hosts Minnesota in their Big Ten home opener and Penn State's 2015-16 NCAA Champions will be recognized. Penn State captured NCAA Championships in women's soccer and wrestling and the women's rugby team won the USA Rugby College 15s national title in 2015-16.

In addition, four Penn State student-athletes won NCAA individual titles last year and will honored at the Minnesota game: Andrew Mackiewicz, men's sabre; Nico Megaludis, wrestling, 125 lbs.; Jessie Radanovich, women's epee and Zain Retherford, wrestling, 149 lbs.

Penn State and the University of Southern California lead the nation with 18 NCAA Championships since March 2007.

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