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Penn State Athletics: Nittany Lions Continue To Succeed In Classroom

by on April 20, 2016 2:11 PM

Penn State athletics has had another above average year in the classroom according to the Academic Progress Rate (APR) data released today by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

The NCAA reported that 13 Penn State teams earned perfect APR scores of 1,000 in 2014-15, up from 10 the previous year. A total of 21 squads equaled or surpassed their multi-year (four-year) APR score from the 2015 report, also an increase of three from the previous year's 18 teams.

Four Penn State squads earned perfect multi-year (2011-12 through 2014-15) APR scores of 1,000: women's cross country, women's hockey, women's soccer and women's tennis.

"Penn State's 800 student-athletes continue to make us proud with their superior performance in competition and in the classroom," said Penn State President Eric Barron in a release. "These metrics are a testament to our student-athletes' work ethic and intelligence, as well as a credit to the coaches, faculty and staff members who nurture and support academic achievement. This type of success is a team effort, and one I'm very pleased has been recognized at a national level."

"Penn State student-athletes consistently demonstrate their commitment to excellence in the classroom and all their academic endeavors," stated Penn State Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour. "I am consistently amazed by, and appreciative of, their efforts to prove that academic achievement and athletic success can co-exist at a high level. Penn State's point of difference is the level to which our student-athletes achieve academically while competing for championships. This achievement only comes as the result of a collective effort, and our coaches, Morgan Academic Center staff, faculty and support staff all deserve our thanks for their contribution to these accomplishments."

The 13 Nittany Lion teams that earned perfect APR scores in 2014-15 are: women's cross country, men's fencing, women's fencing, men's golf, men's gymnastics, women's hockey, men's soccer, women's soccer, softball, women's tennis, men's volleyball, women's volleyball and wrestling.

Penn State's next highest 2014-15 APR score was earned by the Penn State football team with a 993, improving its APR score for the third consecutive year. The Nittany Lions significantly improved from a 968 APR score in 2013-14 and boosted their multi-year APR score (see more below).

The NCAA released data through 2014-15 as the 11th set of APR results, a formula introduced as part of the Division I Academic Performance Program. The NCAA released sport specific data for 2014-15 to each institution, as well as the most recent four years of collected data that is used to determine a rolling four-year (multi-year) APR score for all athletic teams to provide a meaningful assessment of a team's academic performance.

The average multi-year APR score for Penn State's 29 varsity teams is 984, well above the Division I average of 979, according to the NCAA. All 29 squads have a multi-year APR score of 960 or higher (30 points above the NCAA's 930 figure for possible penalties). The men's and women's indoor and outdoor track and field teams are combined in the APR data, reducing the number of Penn State teams from 31 to 29 in the compilation.

The Penn State women's tennis team has earned 10 multi-year 1,000 APR scores in the 11 years the NCAA has announced multi-year data. The field hockey squad has earned nine multi-year 1,000 APR scores, followed by women's cross country with seven and women's golf with six.

Team Highlights of Penn State's Academic Progress Report for 2014-15:

  • The football team earned a multi-year APR score of 960, an increase of four points from last year (956, end of sanctions period) and above the overall Division I football average of 959 and the Div. I football public institution average of 956. The squad's four-year APR score has been above the Div. I football average in all 11 annual NCAA APR reports.
  • The Nittany Lion basketball team earned an APR score of 970 for the second consecutive year, six points higher than the Division I men's basketball average of 964 and 10 points above the Div. I men's basketball public institution average of 960
  • The women's volleyball squad earned an APR score of 995, up 11 points from last year and 11 points higher than the Division I average. The squad's 2014-15 APR score was 1,000, an improvement of 20 points from the previous year
  • The men's soccer team led all Nittany Lion teams with an improvement of 26 points in their multi-year APR score from last year, going from 946 to 972 (see below chart)
  • The men's hockey team posted an APR score of 976, an improvement of six points from last year. The squad's 2014-15 APR score was 989, up 27 points from the previous year

  • Wrestling, Baseball Lead Eight Teams With APR Scores At least 10 Points Above Div. I Sport Average:

    • The 2016 NCAA Championship wrestling team delivered an APR score of 992 for the second consecutive year, 22 points higher than the Division I wrestling average of 970 to lead eight Penn State teams with APR scores at least 10 points above the national averages for their sport
    • The baseball squad earned an APR score of 990 for the second straight year, 20 points above the Division I baseball average of 970
    • The 2015 NCAA Championship women's soccer team delivered a perfect APR score of 1,000, 16 points higher than the Division I women's soccer average of 984
    • The women's tennis (+15), 2015 Big Ten Champion women's cross country (+14), men's tennis (+14), women's track and field (+11) and women's volleyball (+11) teams also have multi-year APR scores at least 10 points higher than the Division I average for their sport.

    Academic Progress Rate 
    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.

    The APR is based on four years of data, with the most current year's data added and the oldest year removed to create a four-year (multi-year) rolling rate. Penalties can be applied if an athletic team's multi-year APR score is below 930.

    Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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