Happy New Year to the Baylor Family!

January 3, 2011
This has been a truly memorable year for Baylor. One area in which our green and gold has shown brightest has been in the many successes of Baylor athletics. We will recall this as the year that Baylor Nation - alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends - rose up to support their beloved University in numerous tangible ways. Before immersing ourselves fully in the promise and potential of the coming year, it is appropriate that we take a moment to reflect upon, and give thanks for, the year of the bear.

2010 proved the best year in Baylor basketball history, with the men reaching the Elite Eight and the women the Final Four. Coach Scott Drew's Bears were led by Ekpe Udoh, later the No. 6 overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, while National Freshman of the Year Brittney Griner led coach Kim Mulkey's Lady Bears to their second Final Four in six years.

Thanks to that success, for the first time in school history, both basketball programs began the season among the top 25; the men reached as high as No. 9, best in program history, while the women have spent the past two months ranked second nationally before assuming the number one spot, which our Lady Bears did just this morning. Other than a one-point loss on the road against then No. 1 UConn, the Lady Bears are a perfect 13-0, including four wins over top-25 teams which BU has won by an average of 20 points. One of those victories came in December over No. 6 Tennessee in front of a Ferrell Center-record 10,569 fans.

Baylor football finished its season with a winning 7-6 record after an appearance in its first bowl game in 16 years taking on a strong Illinois team in front of an estimated Baylor crowd of more than 40,000. Throughout its six home games this year, the Baylor Nation stood proudly with its team averaging 40,043 fans in six home games (240,259 total attendance) this season. It marks just the sixth time in the 61-year history of Floyd Casey Stadium that Baylor averaged 40,000+ fans for an entire season and the first time since 1995.

Ten Bears earned recognition in December from Big 12 Conference coaches when this year's All-Big 12 football teams were announced. Quarterback Robert Griffin III was one of three selections for honorable mention Offensive Player of the Year and one of four Bears named to the All-Big 12 second team, alongside wide receiver Kendall Wright, offensive tackle Danny Watkins and defensive tackle Phil Taylor.

That gave head coach Art Briles' Bears four players on the first and second teams for the second consecutive season, something Baylor had never previously accomplished during the Big 12 era. In all, 10 Baylor players were named to the AP All Big-12 teams. Coach Briles, too, was one of four choices for honorable mention Coach of the Year.

On December 26, the Waco Tribune Herald named our Director of Athletics, Ian McCaw, their Sportsman of the Year saying, "Baylor's phenomenal sports year, combined with McCaw's leadership during the near-death of the Big 12, earned him the Tribune-Herald's inaugural Sportsman of the Year." This past summer, as together we faced the uncertain future of the Big 12 Conference, no one could have predicted the success the fall would bring. The Baylor Nation rose to action to insure the conference remained intact and Ian McCaw, our coaches, and student-athletes continue to make us proud by their remarkable determination and commitment to excellence.

And what a wonderful example we continue to have in the words and actions of our beloved and legendary retired coach Grant Teaff who this year challenged former players from all sports to give to athletic scholarships and to funds that support mission trips for our student athletes. The impact of those trips has been transformational for many of our student-athletes and stories, such as this one from the Dallas Morning News (which you will find by clicking here), remind people about what makes Baylor so distinctive in the world of collegiate athletics. Coach Teaff continues to be an advocate for Baylor athletics and for the unique role of its coaches and staff - to mold players into elite athletes and to help them to become strong persons of faith who will lead with integrity in the fields of work to which they are called.

The year of our Lord 2011 is already brimming with great promise. Thank you, Baylor Nation, for responding boldly to the challenges of 2010 - for joining in our efforts to keep the Big 12 strong; for filling Floyd Casey Stadium and the Ferrell Center; for the remarkable turnout at the Elite Eight, the Final Four and the Texas Bowl; and throughout the year, for wearing your green and gold with great pride.

We invite your continued support for all we do, and give thanks for your loving and loyal commitment to Baylor University.

Ken Starr
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