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The Penn State Nittany Lions (Lady Lions for the women's basketball team) are the athletic teams of Pennsylvania State Universitymarker. The school colors are blue and white. The school mascot is the Nittany Lion. The Intercollegiate Athletics Logo was commissioned in 1983.

Penn State participates in the NCAA Division I FBS and in the Big Ten Conference for most sports. A few sports participate in different conferences because they are not sponsored by the Big Ten: men's lacrosse in the ECAC Lacrosse League; women's lacrosse in American Lacrosse Conference; and men's volleyball in the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA). The fencing teams operate as independents.

The Penn State All-Sports Museum, a museum honoring all Penn State Nittany Lion athletes, is located near Gate B of Beaver Stadiummarker. The upper level of the museum is dedicated to Penn State basketball and other indoor sports, while the lower level of the museum is dedicated to outdoor sports. The football exhibit on the lower level honors the well-known Penn State football team, the Penn State Blue Band, Penn State Cheerleading, and the student athletes who have portrayed the Nittany Lion mascot.

Penn State has finished in the top 25 each of the 15 years that the NACDA Director's Cup has been in existence. This is a list compiled by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics that charts institutions' overall success in college sports. PSU finished in 9th place in the 2007-08 standings, and it was the eighth time that they finished in the top 10. It was the highest finish in five years.


Penn State's football team

Penn State has a large football following and attracts tens of thousands of visitors to its campus; the surrounding area is known as "Happy Valley" for tailgating and games on autumn Saturdays in Beaver Stadiummarker. The stadium is the largest in the country with a seating capacity of 107,282. The largest crowd ever at Beaver Stadium was on September 14, 2002, as 110,753 people watched the Nittany Lions defeat the University of Nebraska by a score of 40-7. The school has earned a reputation as "Linebacker U" for the number of high-quality linebackers trained. Joe Paterno has been the head coach for the Nittany Lion football team since 1966 and is regarded as one of the most successful national coaches. Penn State plays in two football "trophy games" with other members of the Big Ten. They are for the Governor's Victory Bell with the University of Minnesotamarker and the season-ending Land Grant Trophy game versus Michigan State Universitymarker.

Prior to joining the Big Ten, Penn State was one of the strongest of the independent schools in college football. They played a number of schools regularly, including Pittmarker, Syracusemarker, West Virginiamarker, Notre Damemarker, Marylandmarker and Alabamamarker. Penn State has won the prestigious Lambert-Meadowlands Trophy, awarded for Eastern football supremacy, a record 26 times as of 2005.
Panorama of 7th largest crowd in school history, 13 Oct 2007

Penn State won consensus National Championships in 1982 and 1986, both under Coach Paterno. The 1986 team won by defeating the University of Miami in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl, which remains the most watched college football game in history. The school has had a number of other undefeated teams including 1909, 1911, 1912, 1920, 1921, 1947, 1968, 1969, 1973 and 1994, some of which have been awarded national championships from various sources. Penn State has the best winning percentage of any school in bowl games with a record of 26–12–2.

Penn State is also among the leaders nationwide in terms of players advancing to the professional level. As of 2006, 29 former Penn State players and coaches were on the rosters of NFL teams, the tenth-highest such placement rate in the country. Penn State has been represented in at least one of the teams participating in the Super Bowl 37 of the 41 times the championship game has been played.

A recent report indicated that Penn State's football program ranks 12th nationwide in terms of economic contributions to each program's university, athletic department, conference, and community. The report, based on ticket sales, sponsorships, football program expenses, athletic department expenses (non-football), shared conference profits, and county revenue figures during home football games, revealed that the Nittany Lions are presently worth roughly US$63 million.


Penn State's men's basketball program reached the Final Four in 1954, though the best finish in recent years occurred in 2000-2001 with a trip to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament after a win over UNCmarker in the round of 32. The most recent postseason championship for Penn State was the Men's National Invitational Tournament April 2, 2009. Penn State beat Baylor 69-63 to capture its first national title in school history.

The women's basketball teams (the only Penn State Athletic team not known as "Nittany Lions," but instead using the moniker "Lady Lions") have had more success, often gaining berths into the women's NCAA tournament. Rene Portland, head coach since 1980 until her resignation on March 22, 2007, was the source of recent controversy due to her alleged stances on homosexuality among players on her team.


Penn State is home to one of the top men's and women's volleyball programs. Penn State is one of only 5 schools and the only school not in California to win a NCAA Championship for both men and women's volleyball, the others being Stanford, UCLA, USC, and Long Beach Statemarker.

Women's volleyball

The women's volleyball team is coached by Russ Rose, who, since his first season in 1979, has led the Lions to a record of 995-159, an .862 winning percentage, which ranks first in NCAA history. On September 21, 2007, Rose earned his 900th career victory with a win over Michigan Statemarker, being only the third Division I coach in history to reach the milestone. In all 30 seasons except for 2001 under Rose, there have been at least 1 All-American on his team.

The Penn State volleyball team poses with the 2008 NCAA championship trophy after defeating Stanford University in the final.

The program is one of only two DI universities to appear in every NCAA tournament (1981-2009). They have won three NCAA National Championships in 1999, 2007 and 2008, beating Stanford Universitymarker all three times. They were the national runner ups in 1993, 1997 and 1998 and reached the final four in 1994.

The women's team holds a three NCAA records. They hold the NCAA record for consecutive matches won, when they broke USC's record of 52 straight on November 14, 2008 with a sweep of Illinoismarker. In 2008, they became the first women's volleyball program—in Division I, II, or III, to go through the regular season without losing a single set. Penn State broke the NCAA record of consecutive sets won, winning 111 sets in a row up until the third set of the 2008 NCAA National Semifinals. The previous record was 105 set by Florida in 2003.

The Lions had an unprecedented success when Penn State was in the Atlantic 10 conference, as they won the title all 8 years without losing a single match before joining the Big Ten. In the Big Ten, they have won 13 titles since 1991, including a conference record 7 straight (2003-09). During Big Ten play, they have had a perfect 20-0 conference record 6 times (1998, 1999, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009), more than any other Big Ten school who have accomplished the feat combined. They also received Big Ten Freshman of the Year 7 of the 8 past seasons (2002-07, 2009), the Big Ten Player of the Year 5 straight years (2005-09) and became the first school in Big Ten history to sweep all 4 major Big Ten honors (2005).

Men's volleyball

The men's volleyball team is coached by Mark Pavlik. The program has won two NCAA National Championships in 1994 and 2008 and 16 EIVA titles out of 17 years, including 10 consecutive. They finished as NCAA National runners-up in 1982, 1995 and 2006. They reached the NCAA final four 24 times including 13 out of the last 14 years through the 2008 season and an NCAA record 10 consecutive (1998-2008).

The men's first national title came in 1994, when they beat powerhouse UCLAmarker in five sets after being down 11-4 in the fourth set and then winning the fourth 15-12 and the fifth with the same score. The win made Penn State the first school outside of Californiamarker in the then-24 year history to win an NCAA Men's volleyball championship. They won the NCAA title again in 2008, defeating Pepperdinemarker 3-1. With the win, Penn State men and women's programs swept the volleyball championships in the same academic year, joining Stanford from 1996-97 to be the only schools to accomplish the rare feat.

Pavlik was named the 2008 AVCA National Coach of the Year.


Penn State is a fencing powerhouse, winning a record 11 national championships in the sport since the NCAA began awarding titles in combined men's and women's fencing in 1990. The team has finished either 1st or 2nd every season since 1990 except for 2005 (when they finished 3rd) and 2008 (when they finished 4th). The program won 6 NCAA Championships in a row from 1995 to 2000.

Emmanuil G. Kaidanov is the highly regarded coach of the fencing squads. The women's fencing team won national AIAW titles in 1980 and 1981, followed by an NCAA championship in 1983. The team recruits both nationally and throughout the globe and often has a number of highly touted international players.

Field hockey

In 2007, the women's Field Hockey team reached the National Championship game, but fell to undefeated UNCmarker, 3-0. In their tournament run, they were able to defeat two time defending champion Marylandmarker, 1-0, and defending national runner-up Wake Forestmarker, 2-0. Jen Long was nominated for the Honda Award for her efforts. They also finished as NCAA runner ups in 2002.


In 2007, the men's gymnastics team won their NCAA record 12th national championship, by defeating powerhouse Oklahomamarker at Rec Hallmarker, with the score of 221.000-220.200, denying them a threepeat.


Women's soccer has also been particularly strong, as the program has won twelve straight Big Ten Championships through the 2009 season.


Athletes from Penn State have won five gold medals, six silver medals, and 11 bronze medals. The most recent medalists came in 2008 when Kevin Tan won the bronze medal with the U.S. gymnastics team and Adam Wiercioch won the silver medal with Poland in the fencing team épée competition.


The football team plays in the aforementioned Beaver Stadium. The men's and women's basketball teams play in the Bryce Jordan Centermarker. Most of the other indoor teams play at Rec Hallmarker, which was previously the long term home for the basketball teams as well. The school also is home to the Horace Ashenfelter Indoor Facility.

Construction has been completed for a new baseball stadium named Medlar Field at Lubrano Parkmarker and it opened in June 2006. The stadium is host to both the University baseball team as well as the State College Spikes, a minor league baseball team. The ballpark is oriented towards the east, offering a view of Mount Nittanymarker.

Additionally, the university operates the Penn State Golf Courses, two courses for the golf teams, students, faculty, and the general public. The Intercollegiate Athletics Department operates the Stone Valley Recreation Areamarker, approximately twenty miles southeast of State College.

Current varsity sports programs

Current intercollegiate team sports

The university is home to a number of intercollegiate team sports as well. The popular men's hockey team, the Icers, plays in the American Collegiate Hockey Association(ACHA) Men's Division I. The women's hockey team, the Lady Icers, plays in the East Coast Women's Hockey League (ECWHL) and the ACHA Women's Division I. The PSU Roller Hockey team competes in the Eastern Collegiate Roller Hockey Association . The men's and women's rugby team (Lady Ruggers) participate in the Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union (MARFU) territory at large and the Potomac Rugby Union for local divisional play. Both teams field perennial competitive sides with the women's team winning national titles in 1997, 2000, 2004,2007, and 2009. Cross country, is a member of the National Intercollegiate Running Club Association

National championships

Penn State has won 64 national team championships all time, 36 of which are NCAA championships. The 36 Division I NCAA championships ranks eighth all time, trailing only UCLAmarker, Stanfordmarker, USCmarker, Oklahoma Statemarker, Arkansasmarker, LSUmarker, and Texasmarker. Penn State has the most national championships of any Big Ten school. Most of the women's championships prior to 1982 occurred under the auspices of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW). The NCAA did not start sponsoring women's championships until the 1981-82 academic year. Some of the men's championships occurred prior to the NCAA sponsoring a championship in that sport (for example, the NCAA did not start sponsoring a men's soccer championship until 1959) and some sports have never had recognized NCAA championships (such as Division I-A football).

  • Men's
    • Boxing - 1924, 1927, 1929, 1930, 1932
    • Cross Country - 1942 (co), 1947, 1950
    • Football - 1982, 1986
    • Gymnastics - 1948, 1953, 1954, 1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1965, 1976, 2000, 2004, 2007
    • Soccer - 1926 (co), 1929, 1933, 1936 (co), 1937 (co), 1938, 1939 (co), 1940 (co), 1949 (co), 1954, 1955 (co)
    • Volleyball - 1994, 2008
    • Wrestling - 1921, 1953
  • Women's
    • Bowling - 1979
    • Fencing - 1980, 1981, 1983
    • Field Hockey - 1980, 1981
    • Gymnastics - 1978, 1980
    • Lacrosse - 1978, 1979, 1980, 1987, 1989
    • Volleyball - 1999, 2007, 2008
  • Combined
    • Fencing - 1990, 1991, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2007, 2009

Bold indicates an NCAA championship.

Big Ten championships

Athletic Director Tim Curley speaking at a pep rally.
Since joining the Big Ten in 1991, Penn State has won 52 regular season Big Ten Championships, and 11 tournament championships.
  • 1992-93 - Women's Volleyball*
  • 1993-94 - Women's Basketball*, Field Hockey, Men's Soccer, Women's Volleyball
  • 1994-95 - Women's Basketball (season* and tournament), Football
  • 1995-96 - Baseball, Women's Basketball (tournament), Field Hockey (tournament)
  • 1996-97 - Field Hockey (tournament), Women's Volleyball*
  • 1997-98 - Field Hockey (season* and tournament), Women's Volleyball*
  • 1998-99 - Field Hockey (season and tournament), Women's Soccer (season and tournament), Men's Swimming & Diving, Women's Volleyball
  • 1999-00 - Women's Basketball, Women's Soccer, Women's Volleyball
  • 2000-01 - Women's Soccer (season and tournament)
  • 2001-02 - Women's Soccer (season and tournament), Women's Swimming & Diving
  • 2002-03 - Women's Basketball, Men's Gymnastics, Men's Soccer, Women's Soccer
  • 2003-04 - Women's Basketball, Women's Indoor Track & Field, Women's Soccer, Women's Volleyball
  • 2004-05 - Women's Soccer, Women's Swimming & Diving, Women's Volleyball
  • 2005-06 - Field Hockey, Football*, Men's Soccer, Women's Soccer, Women's Volleyball, Women's Swimming & Diving
  • 2006-07 - Women's Soccer (season and tournament), Women's Volleyball
  • 2007-08 - Women's Soccer (season), Women's Volleyball, Men's Gymnastics, Women's Outdoor Track & Field
  • 2008-09 - Women's Soccer (season* and tournament), Field Hockey (season), Women's Volleyball, Football*, Women's Outdoor Track & Field
  • 2009-10 - Women's Cross Country, Women's Soccer, Women's Volleyball

* denotes shared regular season conference title

Penn State radio affiliates

See also: PSU Network Affiliates


  1. Penn State Logo
  2. Penn State No. 9 in final Director Cup standings
  3. Bringing back linebacker U
  4. Winning percentage in bowl games.
  5. No. 1 Women's Volleyball Sets NCAA Record, Sweeps No. 17 Illinois
  6. All Time Penn State Olympians

External links

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