When our last issue went to press, the book hadn't quite closed on the 2010-11 school year. Now it's official: the year was perhaps the best in Baylor athletic history.
Think back on the last 12 months: a bowl game, two Final Fours and five Big 12 titles is a good way to start. All told, Baylor finished 35th in the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup -- the school's fifth top-35 finish in the last seven years. (To put that in perspective, Baylor's highest finish prior to this run had been 39th.)
Baylor finished third among Texas' nine Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS -- formerly D-IA) programs (behind only Texas and Texas A&M), fifth nationally among all private FBS institutions (after Stanford, Duke, Southern Cal and Notre Dame), and sixth among Big 12 teams (ahead of Missouri, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Iowa State, Colorado and Kansas).
Baylor's women's athletic programs finished 11th nationally in the Capital One Women's Cup Standings, ahead of such traditional powers as Maryland, LSU, UConn and Oklahoma, thanks in large part to an Elite Eight finish from women's basketball, women's tennis' Final Four run and softball's College World Series appearance.
In the classroom, Baylor student-athletes combined for a program-record 3.20 grade point average in 2010-11. Fourteen of Baylor's 19 varsity teams had a GPA of 3.0 or better, another athletic department record.
Baylor men's cross country and women's softball received public recognition from the NCAA for having Academic Progress Rates which ranked among the nation's top 10 percent in their sports. Since the program began six years ago, Baylor has received eight public APR awards in six sports: men's cross country (2006, 2011), baseball (2007), men's basketball (2009), men's golf (2010), women's golf (2009, 2010) and softball (2011).
Eighty-eight student-athletes earned degrees between December and May, including NFL first-round pick Phil Taylor, Olympic gold medalist Darold Williamson, Big 12 Sportsperson of the Year Melissa Jones and Heisman candidate Robert Griffin III.
Baseball's Chris Slater was one of 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award in baseball and was one of three Baylor Academic All-
Americans, joining football's Derek Epperson and women's track and field's Jessica Ubanyionwu.