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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; December 17, 2012 - The American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) has recognized the Penn State Football program for the Nittany Lions' Graduation Success Rate (GSR) for the 22nd time in the AFCA's annual Academic Achievement Award survey.
The honorable mention recognition marks the 22nd time the Nittany Lions have been recognized by the AFCA in the 26 years they have been eligible. Notre Dame leads Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) institutions in honorable mention citations with 23, followed by Penn State, Rice and Virginia at 22 and Vanderbilt (21).
Penn State was among 18 institutions that earned special recognition from the AFCA for having a graduation rate of 90 percent or higher. The Nittany Lions earned a program record 91 percent GSR in the most recent NCAA data. Northwestern and Ohio State were the only other Big Ten Conference schools on the list, which also included Boston College, Duke, Notre Dame, Stanford, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest.
The AFCA honorable mention citation recognizes schools for having a graduation rate of 75 percent or better for student-athletes who were freshmen during the 2005-06 academic year. The criteria for the AFCA Academic Achievement Award is based on NCAA Graduation Success Rate data, having at least 15 student-athletes in the cohort and a federal Graduation Rate of 75 percent or higher.
The Penn State football program previously received AFCA honorable mention notice in: 1998-99, 2001-03 and 2005-11. The Nittany Lions also were cited in 1985-87-88-89-91-92-93-94-95, when Penn State was a member of the College Football Association, which conducted the graduation survey at the time. In 1996 and '97, Penn State was not a CFA member, but had a graduation rate of better than 70 percent. The AFCA is in its 15th year of presenting the award.
The AFCA Academic Achievement recognition is the latest success in a long line of academic achievement for members of the Nittany Lion football program, who consistently are near the top nationally in graduation success:
- Nittany Lion football student-athletes that enrolled in the University from 2002-05 broke the program record for the second consecutive year with a Graduation Success Rate of 91 percent, tied with Rutgers for the No. 7 graduation rate among all 120 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams;
- Penn State's 91 percent GSR was significantly higher than the 68 percent FBS average and was second to Northwestern among Big Ten Conference institutions, according to the NCAA.
- Penn State football student-athletes that enrolled in the University in 2005-06 earned a program record 93 percent graduation rate, also No. 2 to Northwestern among Big Ten squads. The Nittany Lions' 93 percent graduation figure was 33 points above the 60 percent FBS average, according to the NCAA.
- Penn State has had 17 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans® the past seven years to lead the nation, with 15 first-team selections. Senior defensive end Pete Massaro (Newtown Square) and junior guard John Urschel (Williamsville, N.Y.) were first-team honorees this year. The Penn State football team has had a least one first-team Academic All-American® in nine of the past 11 seasons. The Nittany Lions' all-time total of 51 Academic All-America® football players ranks third among all FBS institutions.
Led by first-year coach Bill O'Brien, the ESPN National Coach of the Year, the Nittany Lions posted an 8-4 overall mark and finished second in the Big Ten Leaders Division with a 6-2 record. Penn State won eight of its final 10 games, with the only losses coming against division winners Ohio State and Nebraska. In the season finale, the Nittany Lions beat eventual Big Ten champion Wisconsin, 24-21, in overtime.
Season tickets are available for the 2013 season. The Nittany Lions will host three teams that finished in the 2012 BCS Top 25: Michigan (Oct. 12-Homecoming), Nebraska (Nov. 23) and Kent State (Sept. 21). Purdue, Illinois, Virginia and Eastern Michigan also will visit Beaver Stadium next fall.
For information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and purchasing season tickets, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, fans can call 1-800-NITTANY weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.