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Big 12 Conference – One True Champion

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Big Twelve

The Big 12 celebrates its 20th year in 2015-16 as it continues to promote the strength and success of one of the nation’s premier athletic conferences under the direction of fourth-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 19 years. Since it began competition in 1996-97, the league can boast of 54 NCAA team titles and 587 individual national championships.

Additionally, the Big 12 has been at the forefront in college athletics reform, specifically with student-athlete welfare issues to include cost of attendance 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 2014 fall sport season saw Texas become the 13th league volleyball squad to advance to the national semifinals – its 10th appearance all-time. A total of five Big 12 volleyball teams moved on to the postseason and also finished in the NCAA RPI top 30. Big 12 soccer teams represented in the NCAA postseason field with six selections, marking the highest total for the league since 2008. In cross country competition, three teams placed in the top 10 at the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships, including a runner-up finish by the Iowa State women. Seventy percent of the league advanced to bowl games with two teams playing in the College Football Playoff News Year’s Bowls. The Conference has had seven or more bowl teams in 15 of the last 17 years.

The 2015 winter and spring seasons saw Texas swimming & diving claim its fifth national championship while Oklahoma men’s tennis and Baylor women’s golf finished as NCAA runners-up. TCU made the Big 12’s 19th appearance in the baseball College World Series. The Conference won NCAA individual titles in 22 events across the sports of men’s swimming & diving, wrestling, men’s tennis and men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track & field.

The Big 12 lays claim to five Heisman Trophy winners since 1996 and has had a finalist in 12 of its 19 seasons. Twenty-two athletes have earned major individual awards in football in the past six campaigns. Overall, more than 4,600 student-athletes have earned All-America recognition. This past summer, 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.

Through its first 19 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 (2014-15 not yet available), 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 three times in the past six 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 11 years a total of 33 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 18 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. 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 four seasons, six student-athletes were recipients of the NCAA Elite 89 Award with women’s cross country’s Kelly Williams (West Virginia) and women’s outdoor track & field athlete Montene Speight (Texas Tech) picking up the latest honors in 2014-15.  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 had nearly 600 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 10 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. 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.

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 361 scholars have received over $2.5 million in postgraduate financial aid through the first 19 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 19 years, the Big 12 has distributed approximately $2.3 billion to its member institutions, including a record $253 million in 2014-15. The Conference office is headquartered in Irving, Texas.

(All statistics from Fall 1996 through January 2016)
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: 81,000+ named in 38 semesters
Academic All-Big 12 Team Members: 24,119
Student-Athletes with a 4.0 grade-point average on
Academic All-Big 12 Teams:
Dr. Prentice Gautt Scholarships: 361 with $2.5 million in financial aid
Team National Championships: 54
Individual National Championships: 587
All-America First Team Selections: 4,634
Academic All-America Selections: 594
Big 12 Postseason Championship Attendance: Nearly 5.7 million
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