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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 17 years. Since it began competition in 1996-97, the league can boast of 52 NCAA team titles and 537 individual national championships.
The trophy case added more hardware in 2012-13 as Texas won the NCAA Championship in women’s volleyball and the Oklahoma State men’s cross country team captured its third national title in the last four seasons. Oklahoma State won the Western crown in equestrian while Oklahoma became one of just five programs to capture multiple national championships in softball. The year ended with Kansas hoisting its first NCAA trophy in women’s outdoor track and field. Additionally, the Big 12 picked up 20 individual national titles.
Several other sports also made strong national showings a year ago. Big 12 football sent a national-record 90 percent of its teams to bowl games. Women’s basketball claimed the top position in conference RPI for the sixth consecutive season and was the only league to place 80 percent of its teams in postseason play and 70 percent in the NCAA Championship. Baylor won the Big 12’s first men’s basketball NIT title. Kansas indoor track & field, Oklahoma women’s gymnastics and Oklahoma State wrestling finished as runner-up in their respective national championships. Additionally, Texas joined Oklahoma in the Softball College World Series while K-State and Oklahoma competed in baseball Super Regionals.
Individually, Baylor center Brittney Griner earned consensus women’s basketball national player of the year for the second season. Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart was named National Freshman of the Year by two different outlets, while Jeff Withey of Kansas was selected the National Association of Basketball Coaches Defensive Player of the Year. Texas volleyball head coach Jerritt Elliott received American Volleyball Coaches Association Coach of the Year honors.
Oklahoma pitcher Keilani Ricketts repeated as the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, giving the Big 12 two of the three all-time multiple winners as former Texas player Cat Osterman earned the award three times. Ricketts also claimed the Honda Award for softball for the second consecutive season and the Honda Cup, given to the nation’s top female collegiate athlete by the Collegiate Women’s Sports Awards. Kansas track & field head coach Stanley Redwine and assistant coach Wayne Pate each earned national accolades as the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) awarded the two with outdoor coach of the year honors.
The Big 12 lays claim to five Heisman Trophy winners since 1996 and has had a finalist in 12 of its 17 seasons – the most of any league. Seventeen athletes have earned major individual awards in football in the past five campaigns. Overall, more than 1,400 student-athletes have earned All-America recognition in the past five years alone.
Through its first 17 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 combined to lead the nation in women’s basketball attendance 13 consecutive 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 is the only conference in the nation where every coach has guided a team to the NCAA Tournament, including six coaches that have led teams to the Final Four. During the last nine years a total of 31 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 the last two seasons, three 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 had 537 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 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. Following a devastating tornado south of Oklahoma City just before the Big 12 Baseball Championship in 2013, several league baseball teams along with other student-athletes, coaches and former Conference players contributed help in a variety of ways. Plus, the Conference contributed $200,000 to the relief efforts.
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 313 scholars have received near $2.2 million in postgraduate financial aid through the first 17 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 17 years, the Conference has distributed more than $1.8 billion to its member institutions. The conference office is headquartered in Irving, Texas.