Penn State student-athletes deliver record graduation rate
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; November 14, 2018 -- According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, Penn State student-athletes continue to graduate well above their peers nationwide, delivering a second consecutive record-tying academic performance.
The NCAA's annual graduation rates study of institutions across the nation revealed Penn State student-athletes at the University Park campus earned a graduation success rate of 90 percent to tie the school’s all-time record, previously set in the 2010 and 2017 NCAA reports. Nittany Lion students posted a 90 percent graduation rate compared to the 87 percent average for all Division I institutions for students entering from 2008-09 through the 2011-12 academic year.
Penn State student-athletes have delivered a Graduation Success Rate in the 88-90 percent range during each of the past 12 NCAA reports, improving from 88 percent in the 2015 report, to 89 percent in 2016, to the record-tying 90 percent figure the past two years.
Twenty of the Nittany Lions’ 27 teams (men’s and women’s track and field/cross country teams combined) earned a GSR at or above the Division I national average for their respective sport. A total of 19 Penn State squads have a rate of 90 percent or higher.
“With back-to-back years of a record-tying graduation rate, the Nittany Lions continue to represent the best of what it means to be a Division I student-athlete at a world-class institution,” said Penn State president Eric Barron. “Congratulations to everyone who wears the blue and white, and to the team of coaches, advisors and faculty members who support their success.”
“Our student-athletes, coaches, staff and administration, each and every day, seek comprehensive excellence that includes success in the classroom, competition and community,” said Penn State director of athletics Sandy Barbour. “These outstanding graduation rates tell an important part of the Penn State story and serve as evidence of our commitment and focus on academics, as well as our students’ preparation for life beyond Penn State. These results continue to demonstrate that our commitment to student-athletes over the years has been steadfast and our pursuit of comprehensive excellence is as strong as our commitment to Penn State’s values.”
Perfect scores for 14 consecutive years
The NCAA data revealed student-athletes from eight Penn State squads earned a GSR of 100 percent, while an additional 11 teams posted a graduation rate of 90 percent or higher, for a total of 19 teams at or above 90 percent.
The eight Nittany Lion squads posting 100 percent Graduation Success Rate scores were: field hockey, women’s golf, women’s gymnastics, men’s hockey, women’s hockey, men’s tennis, women’s tennis and wrestling.
The field hockey and women’s tennis teams earned a 100 percent GSR for the 14th consecutive year - every year since the NCAA implemented the release of GSR data in 2005. The women’s golf and women’s gymnastics’ squads posted a 100 percent GSR for the third straight year and the men’s and women’s hockey teams had a perfect score for the second consecutive year that they’ve been eligible.
NCAA champions earn 100 percent GSR
The wrestling squad, which has won seven of the past eight NCAA Championships, delivered its first 100 percent GSR, which is 22 points higher than the Division I average.
Ten Nittany Lion squads improved their four-year GSR score from last year’s NCAA Graduation report, with others remaining the same, led by the wrestling (+14), men’s tennis (+9), men’s volleyball (+6), men’s fencing (+5) and women’s fencing (+4) teams.
Penn State consistently ranked in the top half among Big Ten institutions across a variety of key NCAA graduation data comparisons (see below).
Twenty squads surpass national GSR sport average
Among the 20 Nittany Lion teams above the Div. I sport average, 10 squads posted GSRs that were at least five points higher than the national average for their sport:
Wrestling - 100 percent to 78 (+22)
Men’s Hockey - 100 to 90 (+10)
Baseball - 91 to 82 (+9)
Men’s Soccer - 94 to 85 (+9)
Men’s Tennis - 100 to 92 (+8)
Men’s Basketball - 88 to 81 (+7)
Football - 82 to 76 (+6)
Women’s Golf - 100 to 94 (+6)
Men’s Lacrosse - 93 to 88 (+5)
Women’s Tennis - 100 to 95 (+5)
Basketball and football programs continue to exceed national averages
For the ninth consecutive year, the Penn State football (82 percent compared to 76 percent) in Division I, Nittany Lion basketball (88 to 81) and Lady Lion basketball (92 to 90) teams all earned four-year Graduation Success Rates at least two points higher than the national average for their sports.
Federal graduation rate success
In addition to releasing each institution's overall four-year GSR, the NCAA also released the federal graduation rates for students and student-athletes as it has for the past 28 years. The four-year federal graduation rate average for University Park student-athletes increased by one point to 79 percent, No. 4 among Big Ten institutions, which was significantly above the 67 percent Division I average.
The four-year average for University Park students was 86 percent, exceeding the 66 percent rate for all students nationwide by 20 points.
The entering class of 2011-12 Nittany Lion students earned an 82 percent single-year federal graduation rate that was six points higher than the single year rate for the 2010-11 entering class and 14 points higher than the Division I average.
The excellent graduation data comes during a fall sports season that has Penn State with seven teams ranked among the nation’s top 20, including the top-ranked wrestling squad.
This is the 28th 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.
The GSR is the NCAA's more inclusive calculation of academic success among scholarship student-athletes. The NCAA rate is more accurate than the federally mandated methodology because it includes incoming transfers and students enrolling in the spring semester who receive athletic aid and graduate, and deletes from the calculation student-athletes who leave an institution and were academically eligible to compete. The federal rate does neither.
2018 NCAA Graduation Rates Report Key Comparisons
All students (four-year federal)
Penn State 86 percent Division I average: 66 percent
Student-athletes (four-year GSR)
Penn State 90 percent Division I: 87 percent
Big Ten rankings: 1. Northwestern (98 percent), T 6. Penn State (90 percent)
Student-athletes (one-year federal, 2011-12 entering class)
Penn State 82 percent Division I: 68 percent
Big Ten rankings: 1. Minnesota, Northwestern (87 percent), 3. Penn State (82 percent)
Student-athletes (four-year federal)
Penn State 79 percent Division I: 67 percent
Big Ten rankings: 1. Northwestern (91 percent), 4. Penn State (79 percent)
Female student-athletes (four-year GSR)
Penn State 94 percent Division I: 93 percent
Big Ten rankings: 1. Northwestern (98 percent), T 10. Penn State (94 percent)
Male student-athletes (four-year GSR)
Penn State 87 percent Division I: 82 percent
Big Ten rankings: 1. Northwestern (97 percent), T 4. Penn State (87 percent)
Men’s basketball student-athletes (four-year GSR)
Penn State 88 percent Division I: 81 percent
Big Ten rankings: 1. 3 schools (100 percent), 6. Penn State (88 percent)
Women’s basketball student-athletes (four-year GSR)
Penn State 92 percent Division I: 90 percent
Big Ten rankings: 1. 7 schools (100 percent), T 11. Penn State (92 percent)
Football student-athletes (four-year GSR)
Penn State 82 percent Division I: 76 percent
Big Ten rankings: 1. Northwestern (99 percent), 7. Penn State (82 percent)
Men’s hockey student-athletes (four-year GSR)
Penn State 100 percent Division I: 90 percent
Big Ten rankings: 1. Penn State (100 percent)
Women’s volleyball student-athletes (four-year GSR)
Penn State 93 percent Division I: 93 percent
Big Ten rankings: 1. 9 schools (100 percent), 10. Penn State (93 percent)
Wrestling student-athletes (four-year GSR)
Penn State 100 percent Division I: 78 percent
Big Ten rankings: 1. Penn State (100 percent)