Baylor has had an incredible year on the field. Program after program has made it to the postseason. With Matt Rhule leading the football team, and Mack Rhoades and Linda Livingstone’s leadership, Baylor appears to be in excellent shape.
18 of Baylor’s 19 sports programs earned a spot in postseason play. When Baylor’s Voice of the Bears, John Morris, was asked if any other schools had a postseason participation as high as Baylor’s 95%, he said he’s not sure. But he bets “it’s a short list.”
NewsOK’s Berry Tramel says “Baylor athletics are not just surviving in the wake of the football scandal, they are thriving.”
Men's basketball made the Sweet 16 and women's basketball made the Elite Eight. Both golf teams reached the NCAA quarterfinals. So did equestrian. Men's tennis made the NCAA's round of 16. Women's tennis and volleyball made the round of 32. Baseball is in the NCAA Tournament.
And Baylor's softball team is in the Women's College World Series; the Bears were eliminated with a 7-4 loss to Oregon on Saturday afternoon at Hall of Fame Stadium.
“It just shows that no matter what our school goes through, we're still going to represent our school and we're still going to fight and we're still going to win something that matters really dearly to Baylor,” said senior infielder Ari Hawkins. “You just gotta stay strong. You have to, in a way, prove people wrong. Because in the media, we've been bashed, criticized. You name it, we've been called it, probably.”
Even innocents have been subjected to ridicule. Baylor players pointed to social media posts after they made the World Series that were critical in the context of the football scandal. A total disconnect.
“When things like that happen and you hear Baylor's name kind of gone to shame, you want to shine for Baylor,” said Kelsee Selman, a senior pitcher. “Some sports have really tried to step up and show what Baylor's all about. We've done a really good job with that. The football team is as well. They're trying their best. We're just trying to make Baylor's name be good again and show what Baylor's all about.”
“There's never been a moment when I haven't felt safe,” Selman said. “The parents are always asking. The questions we get, we answer them truthfully, and usually it changes their mindset about coming to Baylor.
“When you go to Baylor, you strive for excellence. Academics, softball, whatever sport you're playing. I just think when you play for God and you play for the right reasons, good things happen.”
By securing three Big 12 Conference titles and seeing 18 of 19 athletics programs advance to postseason competition, Baylor University is in line for its highest-ever finish in the 2016-17 Learfield Sports Directors' Cup standings, announced by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA). From Baylor Bears dot com.
With a total of 726.25 points earned, Baylor is currently in 22nd place, which would be its best result in the all-sports sweepstakes, ahead of its 23rd place finish in 2014-15.
The Director's Cup is a program that honors institutions achieving success in many men's and women's sports. Each Division I institution is eligible to earn points for 10 men's and 10 women's sports programs. No institution with fewer sports teams finished ahead of Baylor, which registered 168.00 points in the fall, 225.75 points in the winter and 332.50 points in the spring, in 2016-17 Directors' Cup standings.
In 2016-17, Baylor women's basketball won its seventh-consecutive regular season conference championship and went on to earn a No. 1 seed in its 14th-straight NCAA Tournament. The Lady Bears advanced to their fourth Elite Eight in a row.
Women's indoor track and field captured its first Big 12 Championship, compiling a program record 129.5 points to finish ahead of the second place Longhorns (100.0). Five individual event titles and four runner-up finishes combined with 28 All-Big 12 performances brought home the hardware for the Lady Bears.
Equestrian recorded its second Big 12 title in the last three years, besting Oklahoma State in the final round, 11-7, and earned the No. 1 overall seed in the NCEA National Championship for the first time in program history.
After leading the field with five individual national championship titles, No. 2-seeded Baylor acrobatics and tumbling hoisted its third consecutive NCATA Championship with a victory over No. 1-seeded Oregon.
Football secured its seventh consecutive bowl bid and, in spite of a season-ending injury to starting quarterback Seth Russell, closed the year with a Motel 6 Cactus Bowl victory over Boise State, 31-12.
Two programs, men's basketball and men's golf, achieved their first-ever No. 1 national ranking in 2016-17 and had strong postseason runs. Men's basketball earned its program-record fourth-straight NCAA Tournament bid and advanced to its fourth Sweet Sixteen since 2010. Men's golf registered its first NCAA Regional title to qualify for its seventh NCAA Championship in a row, where the Bears closed the program's best season in quarterfinals. Women's golf, which qualified for its fifth NCAA Tournament appearance in the last six seasons and its 15th in program history, also advanced to the quarterfinals before bowing out.
Baseball earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Championship, returning to the postseason for the first time since 2012 and the 19th time in program history, while softball advanced to its fourth Women's College World Series. The Lady Bears won their way there with Waco Regional and Tucson Super Regional titles.
Baylor men's tennis earned its 20th NCAA Championship berth in a row and advanced to the Round of 16 for the 15th time in the last 16 years. Women's tennis secured its 13th-straight NCAA Championship, where the Lady Bears advanced to the second round for the 13th season in a row.
Volleyball returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011 and upset San Diego in the first round. It was the first postseason victory for the Lady Bears since 2009.
With a runner-up finish at the regional meet, Baylor women's cross country qualified for its ninth NCAA Championship in the last 16 years. Seven runners represented men's cross country in the regional race.
In the NCAA Outdoor Championships, Baylor boasts 17 total entries, its second-highest program total in school history and eight more than last season. The women have 10 entries (eight individual and two relays), while the men have seven entries (five individuals and two relays).
Despite earning a national ranking and the No. 3 seed in the Big 12 Championship, a league which saw six programs earn NCAA Championship bids, soccer was left out of the postseason. The future is bright for the Lady Bears, who welcome back 26 returners and have added four talented recruits and one transfer to its 2017 roster.