Penn State Student-Athletes Continue Outstanding Graduation Rates

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Former Lady Lions Nikki Greene and Marisa Wolfe.

Former Lady Lions Nikki Greene and Marisa Wolfe.

Oct. 24, 2013

2013 Graduation Success Rate ChartGet Acrobat Reader

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. - Penn State student-athletes continue to graduate well above their peers nationwide, earning record-setting academic performances, according to statistical information released by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

The NCAA's annual study of institutions across the nation revealed Penn State student-athletes at the University Park campus earned a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 88 percent compared to the 81 percent average for all Division I institutions for students entering from 2003-04 through the 2006-07 academic year.

The Nittany Lion basketball and Lady Lion basketball teams earned perfect Graduation Success Rates of 100 percent. The Penn State football team posted a GSR of 85 percent. All three programs delivered graduation figures at least 15 points higher than the national average for their sport.

Penn State consistently ranked in the top 3 among Big Ten Conference institutions across a variety of key NCAA graduation data comparisons (see below):

The superlative graduation data comes amidst a fall sports season that has three Penn State teams leading in their respective Big Ten standings (field hockey, men's soccer and women's volleyball) as the fall sports' regular season winds down. During the 2012-13 academic year, Penn State won a school record 11 conference championships, including a record eight Big Ten titles.

"This academic report demonstrates Penn State's on-going commitment to scholarship and athletic performance," said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. "Penn State student-athletes represent the best in intercollegiate sports, and I couldn't be more proud of the student-athletes, coaches and staff members who support their academic success. This is a great achievement. Congratulations to everyone in our Intercollegiate Athletics program."

This is the 23rd annual release of institutional graduation rates since national "right-to-know" legislation was passed in 1990. In 2005, the NCAA Division I Committee on Academic Performance implemented the initial release of the team GSR data.

Tim Frazier and Head Coach Patrick Chambers


The GSR is the NCAA's more inclusive calculation of student-athlete academic success. The NCAA rate is more accurate than the federally mandated methodology because it includes incoming transfers and students enrolling in the spring semester who receive athletic aid and graduate, and deletes from the calculation student-athletes who leave an institution and were academically eligible to compete. The federal rate does neither.

In addition to releasing each institution's overall four-year Graduation Success Rate, the NCAA also released the federal graduation rates for students and student-athletes as it has for the past 23 years. The four-year federal graduation rate average for University Park student-athletes was 78 percent, tied for second among Big Ten institutions, and significantly above the 65 percent Division I average. The four-year average for University Park students was 86 percent, also far exceeding the 63 percent rate for all students nationwide.

Among the 2006-07 entering freshman class, 77 percent of Penn State student-athletes earned degrees within six years, well above the 65 percent average for all Division I institutions. The graduation rate for all Penn State students was 86 percent in the entering class of 2006-07.

"We are extremely proud of the outstanding academic successes and graduation rates by Penn State student-athletes, said Dave Joyner, Director of Athletics. "The NCAA graduation data reinforces Intercollegiate Athletics' mission of integrity, academics and championships. Penn State student-athletes compete at the highest level nationally and their dedicated efforts continue to produce record-setting graduation rates while winning conference and national titles."

The NCAA data revealed student-athletes from eight Penn State squads earned a Graduation Success Rate of 100 percent, up from five teams in the 2012 report. The men's basketball, women's basketball, field hockey, men's golf, women's lacrosse, softball, men's tennis and women's tennis teams all posted perfect GSR scores. Twenty of Penn State's 25 teams (track/cross country teams combined) earned a Graduation Success Rate at or above the national GSR average of 81 percent. (The NCAA data does not include the Penn State men's and women's hockey teams, which became varsity sports in the 2012-13 academic year.)

Other highlights from the NCAA Graduation Rates Report:

  • Penn State African-American student-athletes earned an 88 percent Graduation Success Rate, the second-highest figure in school history. The figure was second-best among Big Ten institutions (Northwestern, 92) and 22 points higher than the national average of 66 percent. Penn State African-American student-athletes also earned a four-year federal graduation rate higher than the Division I national average for the 23rd consecutive year.

  • The Penn State football (85 percent compared to 70), Nittany Lion basketball (100 to 70 percent) and Lady Lion basketball (100 to 85 percent) teams all earned four-year Graduation Success Rates at least 15 points higher than the national average for their sport. The men's basketball graduation figure was 30 points higher than the Division I average.

    2013 NCAA Graduation Rates Report Key Comparisons:

    All Students (four-year federal)
    Penn State: 86 percent (Division I average: 63 percent)

    Student-Athletes (four-year GSR)
    Penn State: 88 percent (Division I: 81 percent)
    Big Ten rankings: 1. Northwestern (97 percent), 4. Penn State (88 percent)

    Student-Athletes (four-year federal)
    Penn State: 78 percent (Division I: 65 percent)
    Big Ten rankings: 1. Northwestern (89 percent), T 2. Penn State (78 percent)

    Student-Athletes (entering class of 2006-07)
    Penn State: 77 percent (Division I: 65 percent)
    Big Ten rankings: 1. Northwestern (91 percent), 3. Penn State (77 percent)

    African-American Student-Athletes (four-year GSR)
    Penn State: 88 percent (Division I: 66 percent)
    Big Ten rankings: 1. Northwestern (92 percent), 2. Penn State (88 percent)

    Female Student-Athletes (four-year GSR)
    Penn State: 94 percent (Division I: 88 percent)
    Big Ten rankings: 1. Northwestern (98 percent), 7. Penn State State (94 percent)

    Female Student-Athletes (four-year federal)
    Penn State: 86 percent (Division I: 72 percent)
    Big Ten rankings: 1. Northwestern (89 percent), 3. Penn State (86 percent)

    Male Student-Athletes (four-year GSR)
    Penn State: 85 percent (Division I: 75 percent)
    Big Ten rankings: 1. Northwestern (95 percent), T 2. Penn State (85 percent)

    Male Student-Athletes (four-year federal)
    Penn State: 73 percent (Division I: 58 percent)
    Big Ten rankings: 1. Northwestern (88 percent), 2. Penn State (73 percent)

    Football Student-Athletes (four-year GSR)
    Penn State: 85 percent (Division I and FBS: 70 percent)
    Big Ten rankings: 1. Northwestern (97 percent), 2. Penn State (85 percent)

    Football Student-Athletes (four-year federal)
    Penn State: 72 percent (Division I and FBS: 58 percent)
    Big Ten rankings: 1. Northwestern (92 percent), 2. Penn State (72 percent)

    Men's Basketball Student-Athletes (four-year GSR)
    Penn State: 100 percent (Division I: 70 percent)
    Big Ten rankings: T 1. Penn State and Illinois (100 percent)

    Women's Basketball Student-Athletes (four-year GSR)
    Penn State: 100 percent (Division I: 85 percent)
    Big Ten rankings: T 1. Penn State, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State (100 percent)

    2013 GSR Chart

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