Football team recognized in AFCA Academic Achievement survey

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) has recognized the Penn State Football program for the Nittany Lions’ Graduation Success Rate for the 21st time in the AFCA’s annual Academic Achievement Award survey.

The honorable mention recognition marks the 21st time the Nittany Lions have been recognized by the AFCA in the 25 years they have been eligible. Notre Dame and Virginia (22) lead Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) institutions in honorable mention citations, followed by Penn State and Rice at 21 and Vanderbilt (20).

Penn State was among 17 institutions that earned special recognition from the AFCA for its graduation success. Iowa and Northwestern were the only other Big Ten Conference schools on the list, which also included Boston College, Duke, Notre Dame, Rice and Stanford.

The AFCA honorable mention citation recognizes schools for having a graduation rate of 75 percent or better for student-athletes who were freshmen during the 2004-05 academic year. The criteria for the AFCA Academic Achievement Award is based on NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) data, having at least 15 student-athletes in the cohort and a federal Graduation Rate of 75 percent or higher.

The Penn State football program previously received AFCA honorable mention notice in: 1998-99, 2001-03 and 2005-10. The Nittany Lions also were cited in 1985-87-88-89-91-92-93-94-95, when Penn State was a member of the College Football Association, which conducted the graduation survey at the time. In 1996 and ’97, Penn State was not a CFA member, but had a graduation rate of better than 70 percent. The AFCA is in its 14th year of presenting the award.

The AFCA Academic Achievement recognition is the latest success in a long line of academic achievement for members of the Nittany Lion football program, who consistently are near the top nationally in graduation success:

– Penn State recently earned the No. 1 ranking in the fifth annual Academic Bowl Championship Series rankings, as determined by New America Foundation’s Higher Ed Watch. The Academic BCS compares data on team graduation rates and academic progress rates (APR) to the performance of other teams in the BCS rankings, as well as the general student body.

– Penn State and Stanford are tied for the top Graduation Success Rate (GSR) at 87 percent, among teams ranked in the Dec. 4 Bowl Championship Series and AP Top 25 rankings, according to data released in October by the NCAA.

– Nittany Lion football student-athletes that enrolled in the University from 2001-04 earned a superlative Graduation Success Rate of 87 percent, tied with Stanford for No. 10 overall among the nation’s 120 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) institutions. Penn State’s 87 percent GSR was significantly higher than the 67 percent FBS average and was second to Northwestern (94) among Big Ten Conference institutions, according to the NCAA.

– Penn State football student-athletes that enrolled in the University from 2001-04 earned a superb four-year federal graduation rate of 80 percent, also No. 2 to Northwestern (86) among Big Ten squads. The Nittany Lions’ 80 percent graduation figure was 24 points above the 56 percent FBS average, according to the NCAA.

– Penn State has had 15 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans® the past six years to lead the nation, with 13 first-team selections. The Nittany Lions’ all-time total of 49 Academic All-America® football players ranks third among all FBS institutions.

No. 22 Penn State and Wisconsin tied for the Big Ten Leaders Division title with 6-2 records. The Nittany Lions (9-3) will play No. 19 Houston (12-1) in the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas on Jan. 2 in the first bowl game of 2012.

Playing in a New Year’s bowl for the sixth time in the last seven years, tickets for Penn State’s clash with Houston are on sale at or by calling 1-800-NITTANY weekdays from 8 a.m.-6 p.m.

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