UNIVERSITY PARK – The Penn State football team earned the highest Graduation Success Rate (GSR) and federal graduation rate among teams ranked in the final 2009 Associated Press Top 25 poll.
The Nittany Lions (11-2) were No. 9 in the final AP poll, earning their 23rd Top 10 finish in Joe Paterno’s 44 seasons as head coach.
Penn State football student-athletes that enrolled in the University in the fall of 2002 earned a federal graduation rate of 89 percent, easily the best among the teams ranked in the final AP poll. Alabama and Miami (Fla.) were tied for second at 75 percent.
Penn State’s 89 percent federal graduation rate led all Big Ten Conference institutions and was 34 points above the 55 percent FBS average, according to the NCAA data released last November.
The Nittany Lions also led all AP Top 25 teams with a program record 85 percent Graduation Success Rate. The figure was based on Penn State football student-athletes entering the University in the fall of 1999 through 2002. Cincinnati and Miami (Fla.) were tied for the second-highest GSR among AP Top 25 teams at 75 percent.
Penn State’s 85 percent Graduation Success Rate was significantly higher than the 67 percent FBS average and was second to Northwestern among Big Ten Conference institutions, according to the NCAA.
The Graduation Success Rate data includes only student-athletes receiving athletic aid and is generated from four years of graduation data. The GSR data also includes student-athlete transfers to Penn State that receive athletic aid.
The superlative NCAA graduation dates is the latest success in a long line of academic achievement for members of Paterno’s program, who consistently are near the top nationally in academic success:
– Penn State was ranked No. 1 in the Academic BCS standings by Higher Ed Watch, who analyzed the NCAA federal graduation data and Academic Progress Rates of the 25 teams in the final Bowl Championship Series standings. Penn State earned a score of 126.0, followed by Stanford (113) and Cincinnati (99.3), to earn the top spot in the third annual survey.
– Penn State owned the highest Academic Progress Rate (APR) and the No. 2 Graduation Success Rate among the 28 teams that played in a New Year’s bowl game, according data distributed in December by the The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES).
The Nittany Lions’ Academic Progress Rate of 976 was tied for No. 6 overall among the 68 teams in a 2009-10 bowl game. Penn State led all Big Ten bowl teams in APR, with Northwestern second at 973.
Penn State’s 85 percent Graduation Success Rate was No. 6 overall among the 68 bowl squads, trailing only Northwestern’s 92 percent figure among the teams in a January bowl game.
– The past two years, Penn State has led all Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams in first team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-Americans. During the 2009 season, three Nittany Lions repeated their Academic All-America accolades: senior linebacker Josh Hull (Millheim), senior kick snapper Andrew Pitz (Bettendorf, Iowa) and junior center Stefen Wisniewski (Bridgeville). Hull and Pitz were 2008 first team honorees and Wisniewski was a second team selection.
A program record five Nittany Lions were selected to the 2008 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America team. Penn State has had 12 Academic All-Americans over the past four years.
During Paterno’s tenure, Penn State has had 45 Academic All-Americans, with 34 earning first team honors. The Nittany Lions’ all-time total of 47 Academic All-America football players ranks third among all FBS institutions and leads all Big Ten schools.
– Sixteen players on the 2009 Penn State squad had graduated prior to the Nittany Lions’ Capital One Bowl win over LSU, with nine doing so before the season began.
The Nittany Lions are 51-13 (79.7) since the start of the 2005 season, tied for the nation’s No. 7 winning percentage over that span (with West Virginia). Penn State has won 53 of its last 66 games overall, dating to the final two contests of the 2004 season.
The Nittany Lions return 13 starters for the 2010 season, (7 offense, 5 defense, 1 specialist), as well as 11 players that have starting experience.