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2016 Russell Athletic Bowl

The Big 12 begins its 21st year in 2016-17 as it continues to promote the strength and success of one of the nation’s premier athletic conferences under the direction of fifth-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 20 years. Since it began competition in 1996-97, the league can boast of 57 NCAA team titles and 625 (through June 15) 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 in 2015-16 with Dallas serving as the site for a November 2015 event. The Conference 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 in 2015, the second year of the structure, 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 12 of its seasons. Twenty-five major individual awards have been won by Big 12 student-athletes in football over the past seven 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. Through its first 20 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 1 0 2 2 0 1 6 R U S S E L L AT H L E T I C B O W L National Championship Game. The league has finished in the top two of women’s basketball conference RPI in nine of the last 10 years and sent at least 70 percent of its teams to postseason for the seventh-straight season. In men’s basketball, the league has had seven teams earn NCAA bids four times in the past seven years. Every coach has guided a team to the NCAA Tournament - including five that have led teams to the Final Four - while seven boast career win percentages of .700 or higher. During the last 12 years a total of 36 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 19 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. 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. 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 381 scholars have received over $2.7 million in postgraduate financial aid through the first 20 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. BOB BOWLSBY Big 12 Commissioner T H I S I S T H E B I G 1 2


2016 Russell Athletic Bowl
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