UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; December 18, 2013 - Eighty-three Penn State student-athletes from seven Fall teams have earned Academic All-Big Ten honors, the Nittany Lions' second-highest number of honorees in the Fall. Included in the total are four Nittany Lion student-athletes with perfect 4.0 grade point averages.
Penn State's four honorees with a 4.0 GPA led all Big Ten institutions, with Michigan State and Wisconsin next with three. The Nittany Lions from fall teams with a 4.0 GPA are: senior women's volleyball player Maggie Harding (State College), a food science major; sophomore field hockey player Haley Kerstetter (Selinsgrove), a communications major; junior women's cross country runner Katie Rodden (Ardmore), a kinesiology major and graduate student football All-American John Urschel (State College, Pa.), a mathematics major.
Head coach Bill O'Brien's football team garnered 24 Academic All-Big Ten honorees while head coach Erica Walsh's women's soccer squad had 14. The field hockey team, under the guidance of Char Morett, had 12 honorees and Beth Alford-Sullivan's women's cross country had 11. Coach Russ Rose's women's volleyball team had nine honorees as did Bob Warming's men's soccer squad. Alford-Sullivan's men's cross country squad had four honorees for Penn State's total of 83.
Now in its 21st year of full membership in the Big Ten, Penn State has had a total of 4,560 Academic All-Big Ten honorees through this Fall.
The academic honors come amidst another outstanding fall sports season that concludes this weekend, with the No. 2 women's volleyball team playing host Washington in the NCAA semifinals Thursday at 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2. The NCAA Championship match is Saturday at 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
The field hockey, men's soccer and women's volleyball teams captured Big Ten Championships this fall, giving Penn State 16 Big Ten titles in the past 2 ½ years and 84 all-time. The women's cross country, field hockey, men's soccer, women's soccer and women's volleyball teams all competed in their respective NCAA Championships and the football team beat No. 14 Wisconsin in its season finale to finish with a 7-5 mark.
The Big Ten recognized a total of 869 fall sports student-athletes from the Conference's 12 member institutions. To be eligible for Academic All-Big Ten selection, student-athletes must be letterwinners who are in at least their second academic year at their institution and carry a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher.
The NCAA's annual study of institutions nationwide revealed in October, 2013 that Penn State student-athletes at the University Park campus earned a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 88 percent compared to an 81 percent average for all Division I institutions for students entering from 2003-04 through 2006-07. The NCAA data showed the four-year federal graduation rate average for Penn State student-athletes was 78 percent, significantly higher than the national average of 65 percent, and tied for second among Big Ten Conference institutions.