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Big 12 Conference

The Big 12 enters its 22nd year in 2017-18 as it continues to promote the strength and success of one of the nation’s premier athletic conferences under the direction of sixth-year commissioner Bob Bowlsby.

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 autonomy conference 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 21 years. Since it began competition in 1996-97, the league can boast of 58 NCAA team titles and 645 individual national championships.

The Big 12 has been at the forefront in college athletics reform, specifically with student-athlete welfare issues to include cost of attendance, student-athlete time demands and strengthening its policy for concussion diagnosis and management. In 2014-15, the Big 12 introduced and hosted three “State of Collegiate Athletics” forums to examine the issues facing college athletics. Two were conducted in Washington, D.C and one in New York City. Panelists included respected authorities from intercollegiate athletics, university leadership and sports journalism. The third forum featured a special session comprised of student-athletes. The Big 12 continued the “State of Collegiate Athletics” forums the past three seasons with Dallas serving as the host site for two events and the most recent in Atlanta.

The Big 12 claimed four national championships in 2016-17 as Oklahoma brought home trophies in women’s gymnastics, men’s golf and softball, while Texas won men’s swimming & diving. West Virginia played for the national championship in soccer while Texas advanced to the volleyball title match for the second-consecutive season. TCU baseball made its fourth-consecutive appearance in the College World Series. Oklahoma football won its 10th Big 12 title to advance to the Sugar Bowl. It marked the Conference’s fifth appearance in a College Football Playoff New Year’s Bowl in the three years of the structure. The Sooners also had two Heisman Trophy finalists, giving the Conference 18 since 1996, and two finalists for the fifth time. Texas’ Courtney Okolo won the Bowerman Award, which is track & field’s equivalent to the Heisman.

The Conference also had a banner year on the national stage in 2015-16. Two teams competed in 2015 College Football Playoff New Year’s Bowls for the second consecutive season. Oklahoma made the Conference’s first appearance in the CFP semifinals while OU men’s basketball advanced to the Final Four. Other highlights included national championships by Texas men’s swimming and diving and Oklahoma women’s gymnastics and softball. National runner-up finishes were recorded by Texas volleyball, Oklahoma State wrestling, TCU equestrian, Texas men’s golf, Oklahoma men’s tennis and Oklahoma State women’s tennis. Three Big 12 squads were among the eight teams that advanced to baseball’s College World Series.

The Big 12 lays claim to five Heisman Trophy winners since 1996 and has had a finalist in 13 of its seasons. Twenty-seven major individual awards have been won by Big 12 student-athletes in football over the past eight campaigns. Overall, more than 4,800 student-athletes have earned All-America recognition. West Virginia soccer standout Kadeisha Buchanan earned the Hyundai Young Player Award at the 2015 World Cup while playing for her native Canada, given to the player born in 1995 or later that made the biggest impression in the competition. She followed that up by being named the 2016 Honda Sport Award winner for soccer.  

Through its first 21 years, the Big 12 has claimed a team national championship in 17 of the sports it sponsors. The Conference finished the BCS era ranked tied for second with seven appearances in the National Championship Game. The league has finished in the top two of women’s basketball conference RPI in nine of the last 11 years and sent at least 70 percent of its teams to postseason for the eighth-straight season. In men’s basketball, the league has had at least six 20-wins teams for 11 consecutive seasons, including each of the five years since it began competing with 10 squads. The Big 12 has had 27 teams earn NCAA bids over the past four campaigns, a total that ranks second nationally.

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.

Nation academic accolades have always been strong in the Big 12. Ty Darlington (Oklahoma) was the recipient of the 2015 William V. Campbell Trophy, known as the Academic Heisman. Gabe Ikard (Oklahoma) was presented the NCAA Today’s Top 10 Award in January 2015. It recognizes former student-athletes for their successes on the fields and courts, in the classroom and in the community. Since 1996, the Big 12 has a total of 11 honorees for this prestigious award. In the last six seasons, 11 student-athletes were recipients of the NCAA Elite 90 Award with Oklahoma State’s Christian Liddell (men’s cross country) and Baylor’s Jimmy Bendeck (men’s tennis) picking up the most recent honors in 2016-17. The accolade 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 over 600 Academic All-America recipients, averaging about 30 each season.  Big 12 student-athletes have shown commitment to their studies by earning numerous individual academic recognitions.  Twelve times in the past 12 years a league athlete has garnered the top academic honor for their respective sport, including Christina Hillman (Iowa State) for track & field/cross country in 2016. 

The Big 12 can take pride in other stories that combine on and off the field success. In the fall of 2013, former Texas Tech track and field student-athlete Ifeatu Okafor was named the Big 12’s first NCAA Woman of the Year. Patience Knight (Texas Tech) was the recipient of the Honda Inspiration Award in 2008 while Imani McGee-Stafford (Texas) was honored in 2015. It is given to an outstanding female college athlete who overcomes adversity to excel in her sport.  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. In the fall of 2014, Oklahoma football student-athlete Sterling Shepard and head coach Bob Stoops were honored with the Disney Sports Spirit Award while Kansas football student-athlete JaCorey Shepherd received the Lee Roy Selmon Community Spirit Award.  Ty Darlington (Oklahoma) earned the 2015 Wuerffel Trophy which recognizes community service along with athletic and academic success. 

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 401 scholars have received over $2.9 million in postgraduate financial aid through the first 21 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 38 million people.  Nearly 5,000 student-athletes from across the United States and around the World compete annually in the sports sponsored by the Conference.

The Conference currently conducts postseason championships for 21 of its 23 sports with the Football Championship Game returning in 2017 after a six-year absence. Each championship helps to determine teams and/or individuals that will represent the Conference in national postseason competition.

In its first 21 years, the Big 12 has distributed $2.941 billion to its member institutions, including a record $34.8 million per institution in 2016-17, an increase of 15 percent over the previous year. The Conference office is headquartered in Irving, Texas.

(All statistics from Fall 1996 through June 2017)

Founded: February 25, 1994
Area: Five states with combined populations of more than 38 million people.
Television Markets: 15 of the Top 100 nationally
Commissioner's Honor Roll Students: 86,000+ named in 40 semesters
Academic All-Big 12 Team Members: 26,018
Student-Athletes with a 4.0 grade-point average on
Academic All-Big 12 Teams:
Dr. Prentice Gautt Scholarships: 401 with $2.9 million in financial aid
Team National Championships: 58
Individual National Championships: 645
All-America First Team Selections: 4,815
Academic All-America Selections: 627
Big 12 Postseason Championship Attendance: Nearly 6.0 million

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