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Penn State Football Tied For Best Graduation Success Rate Among BCS/AP Top 25 Teams

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Nate Stupar

Nov. 2, 2011

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., November 3, 2011 -- The Penn State football team is tied with Stanford for the top Graduation Success Rate (GSR) among teams ranked in the Oct. 30 Bowl Championship Series and AP Top 25 rankings, according to data recently released by the NCAA.

Penn State football student-athletes that enrolled in the University from 2001-04 earned a superlative Graduation Success Rate of 87 percent, tied with Stanford for No. 10 overall among the nation's 120 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) institutions. Penn State's 87 percent GSR was significantly higher than the 67 percent FBS average and was second to Northwestern (94) among Big Ten Conference institutions, according to the NCAA.

Penn State football (8-1, 5-0) student-athletes that enrolled in the University from 2001-04 earned a strong four-year federal graduation rate of 80 percent, also No. 2 to Northwestern (86) among Big Ten squads. The Nittany Lions' 80 percent graduation figure was 24 points above the 56 percent FBS average, according to the NCAA.

In the NCAA's 2009 graduation data, Coach Joe Paterno's Nittany Lions earned the highest GSR and federal graduation rate among teams ranked in the final Associated Press Top 25 poll two years ago.

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.

Top Football Graduation Success Rates Among FBS Institutions (2011 NCAA data)

1. 97 - Notre Dame
2. 94 - Northwestern
3. 93 - Boston College, Duke and Rice
6. 91 - U.S. Naval Academy
7. 89 - Rutgers
8. 88 - U.S. Military Academy, Miami (Fla.)
10. 87 - Penn State and Stanford



Penn State student-athletes earned a GSR of 88 percent, compared to the 80 percent average for Division I, according to the NCAA.

The strong NCAA graduation rate data is the latest success in a long line of academic achievement for members of Paterno's program, who consistently are near the top nationally in academic success:

- Penn State has had 15 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans® the past five years to lead the nation, with 13 first-team selections.

- During Paterno's tenure, Penn State has had 47 Academic All-Americans®, with 37 earning first team honors. The Nittany Lions' all-time total of 49 Academic All-America® football players ranks third among all FBS institutions and leads all Big Ten schools.

- Forty Penn State football student-athletes earned a 3.00 grade point average or higher during the 2010 fall semester, including 16 who earned Dean's List recognition by posting a 3.5 GPA or higher last fall.

For the 2011 NCAA Graduation rate data for all institutions go to:

No. 16/15 Penn State is idle this week and hosts No. 9 Nebraska (7-1, 3-1) in a huge Big Ten clash on Nov. 12. The kick time and TV will be announced Sunday. The Cornhuskers host Northwestern Saturday before traveling to Beaver Stadium for the sold out Senior Day clash. Penn State and Nebraska will play annually as protected cross division rivals starting this year.

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