|BIG 12 ... AS EASY AS 1 - 2|
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Bob Bowlsby was named the Conference's fourth commissioner on May 4, 2012 after spending the previous six years as director of athletics at Stanford University. TCU and West Virginia joined the league on July 1, 2012 and became the Big 12's first additions since inception, joining Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech.
With 10 members, the Big 12 remains as the only major conference in the nation to determine its champions in all sports directly on the field of play with a full round-robin schedule.
The Conference's hard work ethic and strong values have translated to enormous success in its first 16-plus years. Since it began competition in 1996-97, the league can boast of 49 NCAA team titles and 519 individual national championships.
The trophy case has already added more hardware this year as the Texas won the NCAA Championship in women's volleyball and the Oklahoma State men's cross country team captured its third national championship in the last four seasons. In addition, Texas Tech's Kennedy Kithuka and Iowa State's Betsy Saina claimed the 2012 NCAA individual titles.
In 2011-12, Baylor claimed its second national championship in women's basketball, as well as the Hunter Seat title in equestrian. In addition, Texas men's golf claimed the national crown.
Several other teams also made strong national showings a year ago. The 2011 season marked the sixth straight in which Big 12 volleyball represented with at least three teams in the NCAA Regional Semifinal field. The Big 12 finished first in NCAA Volleyball Conference RPI for the first time in its history. In addition to winning its second consecutive national title, Big 12 women's basketball claimed the top position in conference RPI for the fifth consecutive season. Kansas men's basketball advanced to the national title game and made its fourth Final Four appearance since 2002. Oklahoma finished second at the College World Series in softball. Overall in 2011-12, five of the eight sports that hold NCAA Championships where the Big 12 sponsored full round-robin competition had a school competing among the final eight teams or beyond.
The individual honors also continued with national coaches of the year in football (Kansas State's Bill Snyder and Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy), women's basketball (Baylor's Kim Mulkey) and men's basketball (Kansas' Bill Self). In addition, Texas' Matt Scoggin was named the CSCAA Diving Coach of the Year.
Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III won the league's fifth Heisman Trophy in 2011 and the conference has had a finalist in 12 of its 17 seasons (including 2012) – most of any league. Oklahoma pitcher Keilani Ricketts was selected the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. Baylor center Brittney Griner garnered consensus national player of the year honors in women's basketball in addition to receiving the prestigious Honda Cup as the collegiate woman athlete of the year. The Conference has had 14 athletes earn major individual awards in football in the past four campaigns. Overall, more than 1,400 student-athletes have earned All-America recognition in the past five years alone.
Through its first 16-plus years, the Big 12 has claimed a team national championship in 16 of the sports it sponsors. The Conference ranks second with seven appearances in the BCS National Championship Game and is second with 96 football consensus All-America selections in that time. League squads have combined to lead the nation in women's basketball attendance each of the last 13 years and the Big 12 is the only conference to surpass the one-million mark in season attendance – doing so six times. In men's basketball, the league has had two teams in the regional finals in four of the past five seasons. No other conference has had multiple Elite Eight teams in a season as much during that span. During the last nine years a total of 28 NCAA trophies have been hoisted by Big 12 institutions, with at least one national crown won in all but one year for the Conference, including 16 consecutive seasons.
The Big 12 and its member institutions are committed to a competitive environment where sportsmanship and fair play take center stage. Whether on the field, in the classroom, or within the community, the student-athletes, administrators, coaches and game officials of the Big 12 support the highest ideals in sportsmanship.
National academic accolades have always been strong in the Big 12. Danielle Robinson (Oklahoma) and Sam Acho (Texas) were selected to receive Today's Top VIII Awards – one of the NCAA's top honors. It recognizes student-athletes who completed their athletic eligibility during 2010-11 for success on the fields and courts, in the classroom and in the community. In 2011-12, two student-athletes were recipients of the NCAA Elite 89 Award. That honor showcases individuals who have reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level, while also achieving the highest academic standard among their peers.
In its short history, the Big 12 has also had over 530 Academic All-America recipients, averaging more than 30 each season. Big 12 student-athletes have shown commitment to their studies by earning numerous individual academic recognitions. Nine times in the past eight years a league athlete has garnered the top academic honor for their respective sport. The Big 12 had plenty of success overall in the classroom the last four years, as the Conference boasted 80 student-athletes earning Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-America recognition through the fall of 2012.
The Big 12 can take pride in other stories that combine on and off the field success. Patience Knight (Texas Tech) was the recipient of the Honda Inspiration Award in 2008, given to an outstanding female college athlete who overcomes adversity to excel in her sport. She was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in 2007, but rebounded to win All-America honors at the 2008 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships. Oklahoma State women's basketball was the inaugural recipient of the "Together We R" Team Award in 2012, recognizing programs that have strived to succeed in the face of adversity.
Competitive excellence, scholarship and sportsmanship are all equal components of the Big 12 philosophy. All-Big 12 teams and Academic All-Big 12 squads are recognized for each sport at the end of their respective seasons. At the end of each academic year, the Conference honors its top male and female student-athletes with the Big 12 Athlete of the Year and Big 12 Sportsperson of the Year awards.
Institutions can also nominate student-athletes for the prestigious Dr. Prentice Gautt Postgraduate Scholarships. A total of 293 scholars have received over $2 million in postgraduate financial aid through the first 16 years of the program.
The Big 12 sponsors 23 sports. Men's squads include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, indoor track & field, outdoor track & field, swimming & diving, tennis and wrestling. Women's teams are fielded in basketball, cross country, equestrian, golf, gymnastics, indoor track & field, outdoor track & field, rowing, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis and volleyball.
Big 12 institutions create a league that encompasses five states and nearly 37 million people. More than 4,200 student-athletes from across the United States and around the World compete annually in the sports sponsored by the Conference.
The Conference conducts postseason championships for 20 of its 23 sports. Each championship helps to determine teams and/or individuals that will represent the Conference in national postseason competition. The winner of the Big 12 football regular season championship earns the league's berth into the Bowl Championship Series.
In its first 16 years, the Conference has distributed more than $1.6 billion to its member institutions. The conference office is headquartered in Irving, Texas.