2016-17 Pac-12 Year in Review
Built on a firm foundation of academic excellence and superior athletic performance, the Pac-12 Conference renewed its undisputed claim as the Conference of Champions® in 2016-17, becoming the first conference to win 500 NCAA Championships. Beyond the court’s and fields, the Pac-12’s accomplishments extend into the classrooms across 12 campuses, and outside its traditional geographic footprint into new corners around the world.
En route to becoming the first conference to win 500 NCAA Championships, the Pac-12 led the nation in 2016-17 with 13 NCAA crowns. This haul adds to the an incredible 158 NCAA team titles since 1999-2000 and 300 since 1981-82, the start of women’s sports sponsorship, an average of over nine per year. Even more impressive has been the breadth of the Pac-12’s success with championships coming in 29 different men’s and women’s sports. The Pac-12 has led or tied the nation in NCAA Championships in 51 of the last 57 years, the only exceptions being in 1980-81, 1988-89, 1990-91 and 1995-96 when the Conference finished second, and only twice finished third in 1998-99 and 2004-05.
For the 12th-consecutive year, the Pac-12 had the most or tied for the most NCAA titles of any conference in the country, winning at least six every year since 2000-01. No other conference has won double-digit NCAA crowns in a single year, the Pac-12 doing so nine times, including a record 14 in 1996-97.
Spanning over a century of outstanding athletics achievements, The Pac-12 has claimed 501 NCAA Championships (297 men’s, 174 women’s, 30 combined), nearly 200 more than the next league. It was also the first to win 400 championships then surpassed 450 when Colorado and Utah joined the league in 2010-11.
Pac-12 members have won 297 NCAA team championships on the men’s side, 81 more than the next-closest conference. Men’s NCAA crowns have come at a phenomenal rate for the Pac-12 - 16 basketball titles by six schools, 54 tennis titles, 47 outdoor track & field crowns, and 28 baseball titles. Pac-12 members have won 25 of 47 NCAA titles in volleyball, 43 of 48 in water polo, 30 in skiing, and 24 in swimming & diving national championships.
Individually, the Conference has produced an impressive number of NCAA individual champions. Over 2,000 (2,290) individual crowns have been won by Pac-12 student-athletes over the years with 1,359 by male student-athletes. Student-athletes have also captured 185 individual titles at combined championships (ie., skiing and fencing).
On the women’s side, the story is much the same. Since the NCAA began conducting women’s championships 36 years ago, Pac-12 members have claimed at least four national titles in a single season on 26 occasions, including a current streak of 17-consecutive years, dating back to 2000. Overall, the Pac-12 has captured 174 NCAA women’s titles, easily outdistancing the SEC, which is second with 100. Pac-12 members have dominated a number of sports, winning 23 softball titles, 23 tennis crowns, 15 volleyball titles, 18 of the last 28 trophies in golf, and 15 in swimming & diving.
Pac-12 women student-athletes shine nationally on an individual basis, as well, having captured an unmatched 743 NCAA individual crowns, an average of over 20 championships per season, including 30 in 2016-17.
The Pac-12’s excellence is further proven in the annual Division I Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup competition, the prestigious award that honors the best overall collegiate athletics programs in the country. STANFORD won an unprecedented 23rd-consecutive Directors’ Cup in 2016-17 to lead the Conference. Five Pac-12 member institutions ranked among the top-15 Division I programs, and a remarkable six institutions were in the top 20: No. 1 STANFORD, No. 3 USC, No. 8 OREGON, No. 9 UCLA, No. 12 CALIFORNIA and No. 20 WASHINGTON. At least five member institutions have been ranked in the top 20 in all but one year of the Director’s Cup program, with seven appearing in the top 20 on five different occasions (1998, 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2006).
The Conference’s 13 NCAA titles came in the form of a record 10 women’s crowns, two men’s and one combined (skiing - UTAH). Seven members claimed at least one NCAA title and, of the six institutions in the country to have won multiples titles, three were from the Pac-12.
STANFORD was one of just two schools in the nation to claim four championships. The Cardinal extended its streak of winning an NCAA title to 41 years, holding up the national championship trophy in men’s soccer, women’s swimming and diving, women’s water polo, and women’s volleyball. The OREGON women made history completing the first-ever “Triple Crown,” winning women's national titles in cross country and both indoor and outdoor track and field. USC also took home a pair of championships winning women’s soccer and its second-straight beach volleyball title.
ARIZONA STATE won a record eighth NCAA women’s golf title, CALIFORNIA won its 14th men’s water polo national championship, defeating the Trojans in overtime, while UTAH won its first skiing crown since 2003, and WASHINGTON also made history en route to claiming its fourth NCAA title in women’s rowing, the first program in the 21-year history of the NCAA Rowing Championship to sweep all three grand finals.
In addition to the 13 national championships, the Pac-12 also had runners-up in nine NCAA Championship events: men’s cross country (STANFORD), men’s water polo (USC), skiing (COLORADO), men’s swimming and diving (CALIFORNIA), women’s swimming and diving (CALIFORNIA), men’s golf (OREGON), rowing (CALIFORNIA), women’s tennis (STANFORD) and women’s water polo (UCLA). Overall, the Conference had 38 teams finish in the top four at 24 NCAA Championship events, including at least three teams in the top four in women's golf, and men’s and women's water polo.
Participation in the postseason was a common occurrence for the Pac-12 in 2016-17. Of the 23 sports sponsored by the Conference, 21 witnessed at least half its teams participating in NCAA or other postseason action. The men sent 64 of a possible 100 teams into the postseason (64.0 percent), while the women sent 88 of a possible 126 teams (69.8 percent).
Six Pac-12 football teams earned bowl bids, producing a 3-3 record. Pac-12 Champion WASHINGTON provided the Conference with a College Football Playoff semifinalist for the second time in three years. The Huskies won their first-ever Pac-12 Football Championship Game, defeating South Champion COLORADO, 41-10, at Levi’s® Stadium. USC had a dramatic 52-49 victory over Penn State in the Rose Bowl giving the Pac-12 eight of the last 10 Rose Bowl victories in which it was pitted against the Big Ten. UTAH edged Indiana in the Foster Farms Bowl, 26-24. STANFORD got a big defensive stop on North Carolina’s attempt at a two-point conversion with 0:25 remaining in the game and pulled out a 25-23 victory in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. After posting the first 10-win season since 2001, Colorado made its first bowl appearance in nine seasons at the Alamo Bowl. WASHINGTON STATE participated in the third-lowest scoring game in Holiday Bowl history but fell, 17-12.
Four Pac-12 men’s basketball teams earned postseason bids, including regular-season co-champions ARIZONA and OREGON. Pac-12 teams went 10-4 in the NCAA Tournament, buoyed by the Ducks’ run to the NCAA Final Four, their first since 1939. It also marked the fourth-consecutive year a league team has advanced to the Elite Eight, the only conference in the country to accomplish the feat. Joining the Wildcats and the Ducks in the Big Dance were UCLA and USC. CALIFORNIA, COLORADO and UTAH participated in the postseason in the NIT. For the first time in the Conference’s 101-season history, three teams had at least 30 wins, and had four 25-win teams for just the second time ever. Three teams finished ranked in the top 10 in the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll, the Ducks earning a No. 3 final ranking and the Wildcats a No. 4 rating by the coaches. The Bruins were ninth in that poll.
Pac-12 women’s basketball continued to reestablish itself as a premier league in the sport. After sending two teams to the Women’s Final Four in 2016 for the first time ever, it set the stage for another record-breaking season which saw a record seven teams earn NCAA Tournament berths and an additional three received WNIT bids. OREGON STATE won its second-consecutive Pac-12 regular-season title, but STANFORD emerged at the end of the season as the tournament champion in KeyArena in Seattle, then made its 13th all-time trip to the NCAA Women’s Final Four. Cardinal Naismith Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer cemented herself as one of the greats in NCAA men’s and women’s history, logging her 1,000th-career win and WASHINGTON’s Kelsey Plum shattered the NCAA single-scoring record and was the unanimous national player of the year en route to becoming the all-time women's scoring record in NCAA history. The league had a record 15 NCAA Tournament wins, placing two teams in the Elite Eight for the second-straight year. The Pac-12 was also the best-represented conference in the Sweet Sixteen after a league-record five teams advanced. Four teams appeared in the final Associated Press poll, tying for the most ever for the Conference. Five earned rankings in the USA Today/WBCA poll for the second-straight year with Stanford leading the way at No. 4.
STANFORD won its NCAA-record-tying seventh women’s volleyball national title with four freshmen in the starting lineup. WASHINGTON was the Conference’s regular-season champion for the second-straight year and third time in four years. Eight Pac-12 teams earned NCAA berths, including ARIZONA, OREGON, UCLA, USC, UTAH and WASHINGTON STATE, along with the Cardinal and Huskies. It marked the 17th-consecutive year the league has received at least six bids. The Pac-12 has dominated the sport of women’s volleyball, winning a record 15 NCAA volleyball titles since 1982.
OREGON STATE represented Pac-12 baseball in the NCAA College World Series after winning the Pac-12 regular-season crown which marked the program’s third title in the last five years. The Beavers were awarded the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but came up short of the championship series despite recording just the fifth .900+ winning season in NCAA history. OSU was joined by Arizona, Stanford and UCLA in the postseason. The Pac-12 has, by far, won the most baseball national titles of any conference in the country, claiming 28 titles dating back to 1947.
The Pac-12 Conference has historically dominated the sport of softball where league teams have claimed 23 NCAA titles in the 36-year history of the championship. Pac-12 teams captured an unprecedented nine in a row from 1988-1997, then most recently claimed six-straight from 2006-11. Ten teams participated in the tournament in 2017, marking the 21st-straight season the Pac-12 has had five or more teams advance to the postseason, and has had at least three berths every year since the league began sponsoring the sport in 1987. OREGON, UCLA and WASHINGTON advanced to the Women’s College World Series. ARIZONA claimed its 11th all-time Pac-12 regular-season title and first since 2007.
PAC-12 CONFERENCE HISTORY
The roots of the Pac-12 Conference date back more than 100 years, to December 2, 1915, when the Pacific Coast Conference (PCC) was founded at a meeting at the Imperial Hotel in Portland, Ore. The original membership consisted of four schools - the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Washington, the University of Oregon, and Oregon Agricultural College (now Oregon State University). All four are still charter members of the Conference.
Pacific Coast Conference play began in 1916 and, one year later, Washington State College (now Washington State University) was accepted into the league, with Stanford University following in 1918.
In 1922, the PCC expanded to eight teams with the admission of the University of Southern California (USC) and the University of Idaho. In 1924, the University of Montana joined the league roster and in 1928, the PCC grew to 10 members with the addition of UCLA.
The Pacific Coast Conference competed as a 10-member league until 1950, with the exception of 1943-45 when World War II curtailed intercollegiate athletic competition to a minimum. During that time, the league’s first commissioner was named. Edwin N. Atherton was Commissioner in 1940 and was succeeded by Victor O. Schmidt in 1944. In 1950, Montana resigned from the Conference and the PCC continued as a nine-team Conference through 1958.
In 1959, the PCC was dissolved and the Athletic Association of Western Universities (AAWU) was formed with Thomas J. Hamilton was appointed Commissioner of the new league. The original AAWU membership included California, Stanford, USC, UCLA, and Washington. Washington State joined the membership in 1962, while Oregon and Oregon State joined in 1964. Under Hamilton’s watch, the name Pacific-8 Conference was adopted in 1968. In 1971, Wiles Hallock took over as Commissioner of the Pac-8.
Ten years later, on July 1, 1978, the University of Arizona and Arizona State University were admitted to the league and the Pacific-10 Conference became a reality. In 1986-87, the league took on a new look, expanding to include 10 women’s sports. Since then, the Conference has been considered the premier league in women’s athletics, securing the most NCAA titles in women’s sports of any conference nearly every year.
Thomas C. Hansen was named the Commissioner of the Pac-10 in 1983, a role he would hold for 26 years until 2009, when he was succeeded by current Commissioner Larry Scott.
The University of Colorado accepted its invitation to join the Pac-12 on June 11, 2010, and on June 17, 2010, the University of Utah agreed to join the Conference. The Buffaloes and Utes officially became the 11th and 12th members of the Conference on July 1, 2011, the first additions to the league since 1978.
It was during the 2010-11 academic year that Scott helped deliver monumental changes that transformed the Conference into a modern 12-team league. In addition to expanding to 12 teams, member institutions agreed to equal revenue sharing for the first time in the Conference’s history, created two football divisions - the North and the South, and established a Football Championship Game for the first time. He also secured landmark media rights deals with ESPN and FOX that dramatically increased national exposure and revenue for each school, in addition to establishing Pac-12 Networks which guaranteed enhanced exposure across all sports.
Currently, the Pac-12 sponsors 11 men’s sports and 13 women’s sports, with women’s lacrosse a new addition for the 2017-18 academic year and beach volleyball having been added in 2015-16. Additionally, the Conference is a member of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) in four other men’s sports and two women’s sports.
The Pac-12 Conference offices are located in the heart of San Francisco in the SOMA district.