UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics will highlight the varied and numerous achievements of its 800 student-athletes during the second annual STATE of Excellence Week, set for Oct. 16-22.
The Nittany Lions will celebrate four aspects of student-athlete success and experience — cultural, social, academic and athletic — with a different facet highlighted each day from Oct. 17-20. The week will culminate with team and individual champions being recognized at the Michigan football game, set for 7:30 p.m. Oct. 21 in Beaver Stadium.
The student-athlete achievements will be celebrated via a series of events, video presentations and social media throughout the week.
“I am excited for the return of STATE of Excellence Week and recognizing the accomplishments of our outstanding student-athletes,” said Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour. “All Penn Staters should be proud of the dedication and persistence our students demonstrate whether they are competing, with their academic pursuits and community engagement. This will be a special week celebrating the many achievements of our student-athletes.”
Penn State has one of the nation’s most comprehensive and successful athletic programs, with approximately 800 student-athletes across 31 programs — 16 men’s and 15 women’s. Penn State student-athletes have an NCAA Graduation Success Rate of 89 percent and have earned 198 CoSIDA Academic All-America selections, the fourth-highest total among Division I programs.
The Nittany Lions have won 77 team national championships and 104 Big Ten Conference crowns all-time, and their 19 NCAA championships since March 2007 are tied for No. 4 nationally and nearly double the total of the next highest Big Ten institution.
STATE of Excellence Week 2017 schedule:
Monday, Oct. 16 — Overall
Penn State is among only nine programs nationwide to have finished in the top 25 in all 24 Learfield Directors' Cup final rankings. The Nittany Lions have finished in the Directors’ Cup top 10 four of the past five years (No. 8 in 2016-17) and has 12 top-10 finishes overall. During the 2016-17 academic year, five Nittany Lion student-athletes were selected CoSIDA Academic All-Americans to push Penn State’s all-time total to the brink of 200.
Tuesday, Oct. 17 — Cultural
The diversity of Penn State’s student-athletes, the recent international trips taken by Nittany Lion teams and the University’s study abroad programs will be highlighted. During the past year, Penn State squads have made cultural and competitive trips to Brazil, Ireland and the Bahamas.
Wednesday, Oct. 18 — Academic
Penn State student-athletes’ commitment to academic excellence and the support provided by the Morgan Academic Center and ICA staff, faculty, fans and donors will be feted. The Athletics staff will gather for a celebration of academic achievements in the Bryce Jordan Center.
The 2016-17 academic year again saw several school overall and semester academic records broken by Penn State student-athletes, including:
- Student-athlete combined 3.14 GPA during the spring 2017 semester;
- 66 percent of student-athletes with a 3.0 GPA or higher during the 2017 spring semester;
- 495 student-athletes with a 3.0 grade-point average or higher during the 2017 spring semester;
- 237 student-athletes earned Dean’s List honors by posting a GPA of 3.5 or higher during the 2017 semester (12 or more credits);
- 24 teams with a combined 3.0 team GPA in 2016 fall and 2017 spring semesters;
- Record-tying 299 Academic All-Big Ten honorees in 2016-17 (3.0 GPA and a letterwinner);
- 97 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars (3.7 GPA and a letterwinner);
- Record 114 graduates in May; 159 overall graduates in 2016-17.
During the evening of Oct. 18, Penn State student-athletes’ commitment to overall excellence will be discussed during a coaches panel that is free and open to the public. The panel will include head coaches Missy Doherty (women’s lacrosse), Randy Jepson (men’s gymnastics), Denise St. Pierre (women’s golf) and Cael Sanderson (wrestling).
The coaches panel will be held at the Penn State All-Sports Museum from 6:30 to 8 p.m., with doors opening at 6 p.m. Parking is available in Lot 44, just south of Beaver Stadium.
Thursday, Oct. 19 — Social
Student-athlete involvement in the community will be highlighted. Penn State student-athletes completed more than 6,200 hours of community engagement in 2016-17.
STATE of Excellence Week activities are highlighted by competition on Oct. 19, as the men’s hockey team plays its home opener vs. AIC at 7 p.m. There will be brief pre-game banner unveiling to recognize the 2017 Big Ten Tournament champions and the Nittany Lions’ first NCAA Tournament appearance.
Friday, Oct. 20 — Athletic
Yahoo! Sports ranked Penn State the nation’s No. 8 athletic department among the 65 Autonomy Five institutions this past July. The survey incorporated the final results of the past five Learfield Directors’ Cup standings; Penn State ranked No. 6, 5, 8, 20, 8 past five years. The Nittany Lions won seven Big Ten championships — and nine overall conference titles — in 2016-17, just one off the school record of eight Big Ten crowns.
Competition continues during STATE of Excellence Week as three Nittany Lion teams are at home on Oct. 20:
5 p.m. — Field hockey vs. Rutgers
7 p.m. — Men’s hockey vs. AIC
7 p.m. — Women’s soccer vs. Purdue
Saturday, Oct. 21 — Recognition
The Nittany Lion football team hosts Michigan in the Penn State White Out game, and the Nittany Lions’ 2016-17 NCAA champions will be recognized. Penn State captured the NCAA wrestling championship, its sixth in seven years, and men’s gymnast Stephen Nedoroscik won the NCAA pommel horse title as a freshman.