NCAA honors five Penn State squads with award for high academic progress rate

Recent NCAA champion wrestling, women’s fencing and women’s volleyball teams among honorees

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Five Penn State teams have earned an NCAA Public Recognition Award for posting elite scores in the most recent Academic Progress Rate (APR) compilation, including three of the Nittany Lions’ most recent NCAA championship squads.

The five teams — women’s fencing, men’s golf, 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 2016-17 academic year (data from 2013-14 through 2016-17).

The men’s and women’s fencing (2014), women’s volleyball (2014) and wrestling (2014, 2016-18) programs have captured NCAA championships during the past four years.

"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." 

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The NCAA has recognized a total of 77 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 13 years of the program.

The women’s fencing and men’s golf programs earned their first NCAA Public Recognition Award.

“I am very proud of our student-athletes for their strong commitment to academic excellence,” stated Wes Glon, men’s and women’s fencing head coach. “While fencing is a very important part of their experience at Penn State, they understand that they came to our great University to grow into young adults, prepared to handle all the successes and challenges life will present them with. I am quite confident that with all the resources and opportunities at Penn State, they will all be able to do so once they graduate.”

“Penn State is an institution that supports the pursuit of excellence in the classroom and in competition,” said Greg Nye, men’s golf head coach. “Our student-athletes’ educations are our top priority and this honor would not be possible without the resources available to our team and the commitment of the Athletic Department staff to their success.”

Wrestlers among 11 teams to win NCAA crown and Public Recognition Award for 2016-17

The Penn State wrestling team is among only 11 squads nationally that won an NCAA Division I Championship in 2016-17 and also earned an NCAA Public Recognition Award for the 2016-17 academic year. The other teams include: North Carolina men’s basketball, Clemson football, Arizona State women’s golf, Oklahoma women’s gymnastics and Florida women’s tennis.

The Nittany Lion wrestlers have earned an NCAA Public Recognition Award in each of the past four years, an achievement matched nationally only by Stanford’s wrestling team.

“Success in the classroom is our expectation,” stated Cael Sanderson, wrestling head coach. “Being accomplished in athletics is great, 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 Morgan Academic Center staff and resources give them every chance to be successful in the classroom and in their lives after college.”

Women’s tennis earns 12th Public Recognition Award in 13 years       

The women’s tennis squad, coached by Chris Cagle, has earned a Penn State-high 12 NCAA Public Recognition Awards over the 13 years of the program.

“I am proud of the work that our team has put forth in the classroom,” Cagle said. “Our team has consistently 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 can’t wait to see our student-athletes making an impact in their communities once they graduate!”

Women’s tennis leads all Nittany Lion squads with 12 NCAA Public Recognition Awards. The field hockey team, led by coach Char Morett, has received an NCAA Public Recognition Award nine times. The wrestling program has been recognized eight times, including each of the past four years, and the women’s cross country program, directed by John Gondak, has been recognized seven times. The women’s golf squad, led by Denise St. Pierre, is next among Penn State squads with six NCAA Public Recognition Awards.

Penn State teams with the most NCAA Public Recognition Awards

  • Women’s Tennis - 12
  • Field Hockey - 9
  • Wrestling - 8
  • Women’s Cross Country - 7
  • Women’s Golf - 6

The aggregate 2016-17 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, No. 2 in the 2018 final Winter Learfield Directors’ Cup standings, has one of the nation's most comprehensive and successful athletic programs, featuring 800 student-athletes across 31 varsity programs (16 men's, 15 women's). Nittany Lion students, who have captured 26 Big Ten championships and a conference-best seven NCAA titles since the 2013 fall semester, consistently have been among the nation's most successful in earning their degrees. A sampling of recent academic accomplishments includes:

Record-tying 90 percent NCAA graduation rate for Nittany Lion student-athletes

Last November, the NCAA released its annual national graduation rates study, which revealed that Penn State student-athletes tied the school record by posting a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 90 percent compared to the 86 percent average for all Division I institutions for students entering from 2007-08 through the 2010-11 academic year. Nine teams earned a 100 percent GSR in the NCAA's 2017 report.

A school record 26 teams and 520 Nittany Lion student-athletes earned at least a 3.0 grade-point average during the 2017 fall semester, including a record 253 who earned Dean’s List recognition for having a 3.5 GPA. Penn State ranks No. 4 among all Division I schools with 200 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans all-time, including Emily Ogle (women's soccer) and Haleigh Washington (women's volleyball) during the 2017 fall semester.

Penn State's 50 NCAA championships all-time (78 national championships overall) rank No. 5 among all NCAA Division I programs and are the highest total of any college or university east of the Mississippi River. Penn State's 31 NCAA titles since 1992-93 lead all Big Ten Conference institutions. The Nittany Lions have won 107 Big Ten championships or tournament titles since capturing their first crown in 1992-93, including conference titles in women's soccer, women's volleyball and wrestling in 2017-18.

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Last Updated May 17, 2018