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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.-- Three Penn State teams have received an NCAA Public Recognition Award for earning high scores in the most recent Academic Progress Rate (APR) compilation, including two of the Nittany Lions' most recent NCAA Championship squads.
The three teams -- women's tennis, women's volleyball and wrestling -- earned multi-year APR scores in the top 10 percent nationally for their respective sport through the 2015-16 academic year (data from 2012-13 through 2015-16). The women's volleyball (2014) and wrestling (2016, 2017) programs have captured NCAA Championships during the past three years.
"I think that all teams and athletes at Penn State are constantly striving to be successful in the classroom and on the floor of competition," said Russ Rose, women's volleyball head coach. "The athletes being recognized through this award made a commitment to excellence in all facets of student life at Penn State."
Wrestlers Among Six to Win NCAA Championship and Public Recognition Award in 2015-16
The Penn State wrestling team is among only six squads nationally that won an NCAA Division I Championship in 2015-16 and also earned an NCAA Public Recognition Award for the 2015-16 academic year. The others are: Columbia men's and women's fencing, Villanova men's basketball, Oklahoma women's gymnastics, Stanford women's tennis and Washington women's golf.
The Nittany Lion wrestlers have earned an NCAA Public Recognition Award in each of the past three years, an achievement matched nationally only by Michigan and Stanford.
"Success in the classroom is our expectation," stated Cael Sanderson, wrestling head coach. "There is no wiggle room. Being accomplished in athletics is nice, but the big picture is success in life. We are as focused on classroom achievement as we are with what we accomplish as competitors on the mat. We are very grateful for the resources that Penn State Athletics provides our student-athletes. The staff and resources give them every chance to be successful in the classroom and in their lives after college."
The NCAA has recognized a total of 72 Penn State teams with a Public Recognition Award since the program's inception in 2006. The Nittany Lions have had at least three squads earn NCAA Public Recognition Awards in all 12 years of the program.
Women's Tennis Earns 11th Public Recognition Award in 12 Years
The women's tennis squad, coached by Chris Cagle, has earned a Penn State-high 11 NCAA Public Recognition Awards over the 12 years of the program.
"I am proud of the work that our team has put forth in the classroom," Cagle said. "Once again, our team has shown the ability to balance both high level athletics with world class academics. I would also like to thank the Morgan Academic Center staff for their efforts in supporting our student-athletes. The combination of athletics, academic studies and academic support staff at Penn State is amazing and I look forward to seeing our student-athletes making an impact in their communities once they graduate!"
The Penn State field hockey team, led by Char Morett, has received an NCAA Public Recognition Award nine times. The women's cross country program, directed by John Gondak, has been recognized seven times as has the wrestling program, under Sanderson's direction. The women's golf squad, led by Denise St. Pierre, is next among Penn State squads with six NCAA Public Recognition Awards.
The aggregate 2015-16 Academic Progress Rate data for all NCAA Division I institutions will be announced later this month.
The NCAA's APR is designed to track the academic progress of each student-athlete on scholarship at a particular institution. It accounts for eligibility, retention and graduation each term to provide a clear measure of each team's academic performance.
Penn State student-athletes, who have captured 30 Big Ten Championships and conference-best eight NCAA titles since September 2012, consistently have been among the nation's most successful in earning their degrees. A sampling of recent academic accomplishments includes:
-In November 2016, the NCAA released its annual national graduation rates study, which revealed that Penn State student-athletes earned a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 89 percent compared to the 84 percent average for all Division I institutions for students entering from 2006-07 through the 2009-10 academic year. The 89 percent graduation figure was just one point off Penn State's 90 percent all-time graduation record mark and one point higher than last year's figure.
The 2016 NCAA data revealed student-athletes from seven Penn State squads earned a Graduation Success Rate of 100 percent, an increase of two from last year's five teams. The seven Nittany Lion squads posting perfect graduation scores were: men's basketball, field hockey, women's golf, women's gymnastics, men's soccer, softball and women's tennis.
- During the 2016 fall semester, a school record 24 teams posted a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher. A total of 498 student-athletes earned at least a 3.0 GPA, with 223 garnering a GPA of 3.50 or higher to earn Dean's List recognition.
- Penn State leads all Big Ten institutions with 5,730 Academic All-Big Ten honorees since 1991-92, its first year of competition in some Big Ten sports. Ohio State is second with 5,667 over the past 25 years. The Nittany Lions' 299 Academic All-Big Ten selections in 2015-16 were a school record. Student-athletes must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and be a letterwinner for Academic All-Big Ten consideration.
-Penn State has had 195 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans all-time, which ranks fifth among all NCAA institutions and fourth among Division I schools.
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