A Message From Tom Osborne
With three league championships, eight Academic All-Americans and 21 first-team All-Americans across all sports, we’ve experienced a solid first year as a member of the Big Ten Conference. I am proud of our women’s Big Ten championship teams in volleyball, indoor track and gymnastics, and I am encouraged with the way our programs have embraced our athletic department mission to serve our student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans.
We are constantly focused on displaying integrity in every decision we make, building trust with others, giving respect to everyone, pursuing unity of purpose through teamwork and maintaining loyalty to student-athletes, co-workers, fans and the University of Nebraska. Those core values enabled a smooth transition into the Big Ten in all 23 varsity sports, and they will continue to serve us well as we strive to meet our top three goals: Success in Academics, Success in Athletics and Success in Life.
Academically, eight of our student-athletes earned CoSIDA Academic All-America status in 2011-12, increasing our nation-leading total to 299 Academic All-Americans. Only one other school among 1,400 NCAA institutions has reached 200 Academic All-Americans, and that school is 76 behind where we are. We take great pride in that achievement, and I congratulate all eight of our academic All-Americans – Rex Burkhead, Austin Cassidy and Sean Fisher in football; Bjorn Barrefors, Nate Polacek and Brett Grieb in track and field; and Tucker Lane and Josh Ihnen in wrestling. This past year, we were fortunate to have four student-athletes receive prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships – Tucker Lane from wrestling, Ashley Miller and Tyler Hitchler from track and field and Nikki Haget from softball. Ashley Miller and Tyler Hitchler also were named our 2012 Student-Athletes of the Year and 2012 Big Ten Medal of Honor winners. In addition, Kaitlyn Burke and Chris Phipps were chosen from a group of 300 student-athletes to represent Nebraska as Big Ten Outstanding Sportsmanship Award winners.
Athletically, our inaugural season in the Big Ten produced 40 All-America awards, including 21 first-team All-America honors from 30 student-athletes in all sports. Chad Wright highlighted our individual accomplishments with an NCAA discus title. Athletes who produced 22 of our All-America awards return this season, and they should provide leadership for others to follow suit. Team-wise, 10 of our 23 teams finished among the Top 25 in their respective sports, and I congratulate Dan Kendig (women’s gymnastics) and Gary Pepin (women’s indoor track) for being named Big Ten Coach of the Year, along with Scott Jacobson(women’s tennis) for earning Big Ten Co-Coach of the Year honors. (Read More)