Big 12 Conference – One True Champion
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The Big 12 enters its 19th year as it continues to promote the strength and success of one of the nation’s premier athletic conferences under the direction of third-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 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 18 years. 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. Texas became the 12th league volleyball squad to advance to the national semifinals while three teams placed in the top 15 at the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships. Big 12 football placed two teams for the sixth time in what was the final season of the BCS with Oklahoma defeating two-time defending national champion Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
The 2014 winter and spring seasons were just as successful as Oklahoma claimed the Big 12’s first NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championship and 14 student-athletes claimed individual national titles. Texas women’s indoor and outdoor track & field, UT men’s swimming & diving, Oklahoma men’s tennis and Oklahoma State men’s golf finished as NCAA runners-up. Baylor softball was one of the last four teams standing at the Women’s College World Series and the Big 12 placed a nation’s-best four baseball squads in the NCAA Super Regionals and three in the College World Series.
Since it began competition in 1996-97, the league can boast of 53 NCAA team titles and 552 individual national championships.
The Big 12 lays claim to five Heisman Trophy winners since 1996 and has had a finalist in 12 of its 18 seasons – tied for the most of any league. Twenty athletes have earned major individual awards in football in the past six campaigns. Overall, more than 1,900 student-athletes have earned All-America recognition in the past seven years alone.
Through its first 18 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. League squads combined to lead the nation in women’s basketball attendance 15 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 has had seven teams earn NCAA bids twice in the past five years and every coach has guided a team to the NCAA Tournament, including a nation’s-best six coaches that have led teams to the Final Four. During the last 10 years a total of 32 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 17 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 three seasons, four student-athletes were recipients of the NCAA Elite 89 Award with pitcher John Curtiss (Texas) picking up the latest honor in the spring of 2014. The 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 571 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. Eleven times in the past nine years a league athlete has garnered the top academic honor for their respective sport, including Frances Silva (West Virginia) for soccer and Gabe Ikard (Oklahoma) for football in 2013.
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 341 scholars have received nearly $2.3 million in postgraduate financial aid through the first 18 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 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.
In its first 18 years, the Big 12 has distributed more than $2.04 billion to its member institutions, including a record $220.1 million in 2013-14. The Conference office is headquartered in Irving, Texas.
(All statistics from Fall 1996 through January 2015)
|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:||76,000+ named in 36 semesters|
|Academic All-Big 12 Team Members:||22,234|
|Student-Athletes with a 4.0 grade-point average on
Academic All-Big 12 Teams:
|Dr. Prentice Gautt Scholarships:||341 with $2.3 million in financial aid|
|Team National Championships:||53|
|Individual National Championships:||552|
|All-America First Team Selections:||4,397|
|Academic All-America Selections:||591|
|Big 12 Postseason Championship Attendance:||Nearly 5.6 million|