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Rivers and Stevens Selected as Student-Athletes of the Year



UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa – Penn State Athletics announced its Female and Male Student-Athletes of the Year, with NCAA track champion Danae Rivers and men’s basketball standout Lamar Stevens claiming honors for the highly successful 2019-20 academic year.


Rivers is the third member of the women’s cross country and track & field program to earn Female Student-Athlete of the Year, joining Kim McGreevy, who was the recipient in 1996-97, and Shana Cox, who won the award in 2006-07 and 2007-08. Stevens becomes the fourth Nittany Lion basketball student-athlete to earn male honors, joining Pete Lisicky (1997-98), Joe Crispin (2000-01) and Talor Battle (2010-11). Penn State began awarding Student-Athlete of the Year honors in 1991-92.


Rivers and Stevens will be on the ballot for Big Ten Male and Female Athletes of the Year with honorees from the other 13 conference institutions.


Ally McHugh (women’s swimming) and Bo Nickal (wrestling) were Penn State’s 2018-19 honorees.


Danae Rivers

Rivers became the first female student-athlete in the history of the Big Ten to win four consecutive 800m Big Ten Indoor Championships on February 29, 2020. Rivers ran 2:06.27 to capture her fourth title in the 800m. Along with her 800m title, Rivers also won the Big Ten title in the mile event. Rivers completed her indoor career with six Big Ten titles and was a three-time All-American. Rivers had qualified for her fourth NCAA Indoor Championships prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic cancelling the Championships


Rivers set 11 Penn State school records, was a nine-time USTFCCCA first-team All-American, a 10-time Big Ten Champion, a two-time Big Ten Freshman of the Year and a three-time Mid-Atlantic Regional Women’s Track Athlete of the Year. In addition, she set the collegiate record in the 1,000m run with a time of 2:38.58 at the Nittany Lion Challenge in 2019. She was also the 2019 NCAA Indoor Champion in the 800m to become the first individual women’s national champion in program history.


Lamar Stevens

One of the greatest to play men’s basketball for Penn State, Lamar Stevens returned for his senior campaign to lead the 2019-20 Nittany Lions to 21 wins, 11 Big Ten Conference wins and their first Associated Press poll ranking since 1996. Stevens helped position Penn State for an NCAA Tournament berth as the Nittany Lions reeled off a program record eight-game win streak in league play and held a No. 9 national ranking.


A two-time first-team All-Big Ten Conference selection, Stevens started all 135 games in his career with 115 double-figure scoring games and 4,532 career minutes played. His participation in community efforts included his children’s book “Lamar’s Climb: A Journey to Happy Valley” which involved six individuals, all with special needs and who were connected to the men’s basketball program. The book distributed as part of “Everyone is Awesome” Day in February 2020.


Stevens was one of only two Nittany Lions in program history with more than 2,000 career points and 800 career rebounds. With the cancellation of the Big Ten Tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic, his career came to an end with 2,207 points, ranked No. 2 on the program’s all-time scoring list.


Penn State Among the Nation’s Most Comprehensive and Successful Athletic Programs
Under the leadership of Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Sandy Barbour, Penn State has one of the nation’s most comprehensive and successful athletic programs, featuring 800 student-athletes across 31 varsity programs (16 men’s, 15 women’s). The Nittany Lions’ 31 programs are tied for the fourth-highest number of sports sponsored by a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) institution.


Penn State student-athletes have led the athletic department to 34 Big Ten championships and nine NCAA National Championships since October 2013. The Nittany Lions have finished in the top 15 of the Learfield IMG College Director’s Cup 19 times in the last 26 years (the Director’s Cup was not awarded in 2019-20).


Record-Breaking NCAA Graduation Success Rate
The 2019 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 (GSR) of 91 percent to break the school’s all-time record of 90, which was previously set in the 2010, 2017 and 2018 NCAA reports. Nittany Lion students posted a 91 percent graduation rate compared to the 88 percent average for all Division I institutions for students entering from 2009-10 through the 2012-13 academic year.


Penn State student-athletes have delivered a Graduation Success Rate in the 88-91 percent range during each of the past 13 NCAA reports, improving from 88 percent in the 2015 report, to 89 percent in 2016, to 90 percent in 2017 and 2018, and a record-breaking 91 percent figure in 2019. Ten Nittany Lion programs earned 100% graduation rates and 18 programs were above the national average.


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