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Penn State Student-Athlete Graduation Rates Soar Above National Average

Penn State’s student athletes continue to excel in the classroom by earning graduation success rates well above their peers, according to statistical information released by the NCAA.

The NCAA’s annual study of national universities revealed Penn State student-athletes at the University Park campus earned a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 89 percent, compared to the 82 percent average for all Division I institutions for students entering from 2004-05 through the 2007-08 academic year (The numbers are delayed to account for longer-than-usual graduation times). The 89 percent figure is just one point shy of Penn State’s record 90 percent mark set in 2010.

The Penn State football team posted a GRS of 87 percent compared to 71 in Division I, up two points from the 2013 report and tied with 2011 for its second-highest rate. Along with football, men’s basketball (100 to 72 percent) and women’s basketball (100 to 85 percent) teams all earned four-year Graduation Success Rates at least 15 points higher than the national average for their sport for the fifth consecutive report.

The NCAA data also revealed student-athletes from eight Penn State teams — men’s basketball, women’s basketball, women’s fencing, field hockey, men’s golf, women’s lacrosse, softball and women’s tennis — posted GSRs of 100 percent, matching the same number in the 2013 report.

In total, eighteen of Penn State’s 25 teams (combining track/cross country and excluding men’s and women’s ice hockey) earned a Graduation Success Rate at or above the national GSR average of 82 percent.

“Penn State’s consistently high Graduation Success Rates are a true team effort, with student-athletes, coaches and staff all working together to support excellence in competition and in the classroom,” said President Eric Barron. “We’re very proud of the discipline and work ethic that goes into this success story, and offer our sincerest congratulations to everyone involved in the mission of preparing our student-athletes for productive and fulfilling livelihoods beyond college.”

Penn State scored above the national average in every measurable category, as illustrated by the chart below (click to enlarge).


The data also reveals Penn State’s extraordinary commitment to African-American student-athletes. The 89 percent Graduation Success Rate is the second-highest figure in school history, just one point off the record 90 percent figure in the 2012 NCAA report. The figure was second-best among Big Ten institutions behind only Northwestern’s 92 percent, and 21 points higher than the national average of 68 percent. The four-year federal rate for African-American student-athletes also ranked significantly higher than the Division 1 national average since the first report was released in 1990.

This report is the 24th annual release of institutional graduation rates since national “right-to-know” legislation was passed in 1990. In 2005, the NCAA Division I Committee on Academic Performance implemented the initial release of the team GSR data.

“Penn State has a long history and tradition of combining academic excellence with athletic success,” said Athletic Director Sandy Barbour. “These latest NCAA graduation rate figures are continued confirmation of our communities’ commitment to outstanding academic performance. These achievements are a tribute to our student-athletes, coaches, academic support staff and administration over time. No matter how good our academic metrics may be, we can always strive to improve, and that is what we are focused on doing every day.”

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About the Author

CJ Doon

CJ is a senior journalism major from Long Island and Onward State's Sports Editor. He is a third-generation Penn Stater, and his grandfather wrestled for the university back in the 1930s under coach Charlie “Doc” Speidel. Besides writing, one of his favorite activities is making sea puns. You can follow him on Twitter @CJDoon, and send your best puns to [email protected], just for the halibut.

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