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2019-20 Pac-12 Year In Review

Jul 2, 2020

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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 2019-20. Beyond the courts 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.

The only conference to win 500 NCAA Championships, the Pac-12 captured three of the seven national championships contested in 2019-20 before all sports competition was canceled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic adding to a legacy that includes 193 NCAA team titles claimed since 1999-2000 and 333 since 1981-82, the start of women’s sports sponsorship, an average of over eight per year. Even more impressive has been the breadth of the Pac-12’s success with championships coming in 28 different men’s and women’s sports. The Pac-12 has led or tied the nation in NCAA Championships in 54 of the last 60 years, with the exceptions coming no lower than third.

The Pac-12 has won the most or tied for the most NCAA titles for 15-consecutive seasons, winning at least six every year from 1999-2000 to 2018-19, winning a record 14 in 1996-97. No other conference has won double-digit NCAA championships in a single year.

Spanning over a century of outstanding athletics achievements, the Pac-12 has claimed 529 NCAA Championships (305 men’s, 193 women’s, 31 combined), over 200 more than the next league.

Pac-12 members have won 305 NCAA team championships on the men’s side, 78 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 29 baseball titles. Pac-12 members have won 25 of 49 NCAA titles in volleyball, 46 of 51 in water polo, 31 in skiing, and 25 in swimming & diving national championships.

On the women’s side, the story is much the same. Since the NCAA began conducting women’s championships 39 years ago, Pac-12 members have claimed at least four national titles in a single season on 29 occasions, including every year since 2000-01 except two (2012-13 and the 2019-20-shortened campaign). Pac-12 teams have captured 193 NCAA women’s titles, easily outdistancing the SEC, which is second with 106. Pac-12 members have dominated a number of sports, winning 24 softball titles, 24 tennis crowns, 17 volleyball titles, 19 of the last 30 trophies in golf, and 17 in swimming & diving.

Individually, the Conference has produced an impressive number of NCAA individual champions. Over 2,000 (2,379) individual crowns have been won by Pac-12 student-athletes over the years with 1,383 by male student-athletes. Pac-12 women student-athletes have captured an unmatched 808 NCAA individual crowns, an average of nearly 21 championships per season. Student-athletes have also captured 188 individual titles at combined championships (i.e., skiing and fencing).

The Pac-12’s excellence is further proven in the annual Division I Learfield IMG College Directors’ Cup competition, the prestigious award that honors the best overall collegiate athletics programs in the country. STANFORD won an unprecedented 25th-consecutive Directors’ Cup in 2018-19 to lead the Conference with at least five member institutions earning scores in the top 25 each year of the Directors’ Cup program. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Directors’ Cup was not awarded in 2019-20.


Seven NCAA Championships were contested during the 2019-20 campaign before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic led to the cancelation of competition in mid-March, including the remainder of the national championships. Stanford alone was en route to a special season, claiming three of the seven titles as no other school claimed multiple titles. Nine Pac-12 teams finished among the top four out of a possible 28 at the championships, representing five different Pac-12 institutions. The Cardinal won titles this season in men’s water polo, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball, extending its streak of at least one NCAA team title to 44 years.

Stanford also posted top-four finishes in women’s cross country and men’s soccer, while Colorado came in third at the men’s cross country national meet and USC placed in a tie for third in men’s water polo. Three-quarters of the NCAA Women’s College Cup hailed from the Pac-12 for the first time ever with WASHINGTON STATE making its first-ever appearance in the national semifinal, joining the Cardinal and UCLA.

The Pac-12 Champion OREGON Ducks capped a 12-2 season with a one-point Rose Bowl Game victory over Wisconsin, 28-27, as the Conference went 4-3 in the postseason. The Ducks finished the season ranked No. 5, while UTAH came in at No. 16 in the final polls. Oregon handily won its third Pac-12 Football Championship Game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., defeating the Utes, 37-15, as CJ Verdell was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. In the postseason, ARIZONA STATE was a winner at the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, (vs. Florida State, 20-14), CALIFORNIA won the Redbox Bowl in Santa Clara, Calif. (vs. Illinois, 35-20) and WASHINGTON had a commanding win at the Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl (vs. Boise State, 38-7). Postseason bids were also extended to USC (SDCCU Holiday Bowl), Utah (Valero Alamo Bowl) and WASHINGTON STATE (Cheez-It Bowl). As many as 13 Pac-12 student-athletes were named All-Americans at season’s end. Combining both on-field and off-field performances, Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert was recipient of the Campbell Trophy, honoring the college football’s top scholar-athlete. He was also named first team Academic All-America for the second straight year and repeated as the Academic Team Member of the Year completing a school-record 827 passes for 10,541 yards and 95 touchdowns for his career while earning his degree in general science with an emphasis in biology. Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell and California linebacker Evan Weaver were consensus All-America selections, while Utah defensive end Bradlee Anae was a unanimous selection. Sewell was honored with the Outland Trophy as the nation’s top interior lineman, while Weaver led the FBS in tackles with 182 (14.0 per game). Herbert was the Pac-12’s top selection in the NFL draft as a first round pick/sixth overall by the Los Angeles Chargers.

The 2019-20 men’s basketball campaign was also cut short, with the season coming to an abrupt end on March 12, 2020, prior to the start of the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals, due to national and global concerns stemming from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Prior to that, OREGON and Payton Pritchard dominated the hardwood. The Conference’s Player of the Year and consensus first team All-American, Pritchard became the second player to lead the league in scoring, assists and threes in a season to propel the Ducks to the outright Pac-12 regular-season title by a game over runner-up UCLA. Pritchard was also named the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Lute Olson National Player of the Year. Another outstanding Pac-12 career came to close as OREGON STATE’s Tres Tinkle concluded his four years in the Conference’s all-time top 10 in scoring (overall and Conference-only), field goal attempts, and free throws made and attempted. The remainder of the NCAA Division I season, including March Madness, was subsequently canceled with the Pac-12 projected to have at least six NCAA Tournament berths. Six teams reached the 20-win plateau during the 2019-20 regular season, equaling the most ever for the Conference.

With wins in football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball during 2019-20, Oregon became the first school in Conference history to sweep the three league titles in the same season.

Pac-12 women’s basketball has established itself as a premier league in the sport, riding a wave of success in recent years that includes winning the most NCAA Tournament games of any conference in the last four postseasons. In 2019-20, the Pac-12 was the most talked about conference in women’s basketball beginning with OREGON’s historic exhibition win over Team USA before the season started. Led by consensus national player of the year and three-time Pac-12 Player of the Year Sabrina Ionescu, the Ducks went on to win the regular-season for the third year in a row and cut down the nets of the Pac-12 Tournament for the second time in three years in the event’s new home at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. The league boasted the No. 1 conference RPI and five teams were expected to receive top-16 NCAA Tournament seeds, as was announced in the final NCAA reveal in the first week of March. For the first time ever, six Pac-12 teams were ranked in the final Associated Press poll with Oregon (No. 2), STANFORD (No. 7) and UCLA (No. 10) appearing in the top 10. A record number of Pac-12 student-athletes were also nationally recognized this season, including four that were tabbed Naismith Hall of Fame/WBCA Starting Five winners, three alone coming from Oregon, with Ionescu winning the Nancy Lieberman Award for the third-straight year. Ionescu’s stellar collegiate campaign included becoming the first-ever men’s or women’s player in NCAA history to tally 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists. She is, by far, the NCAA leader in triple-doubles, recording 26 for her career. She broke the Pac-12 all-time assists record, passing Hall of Famer Gary Payton, and finishing fourth all-time in NCAA women’s history. A record number were also tabbed All-Americans with as many as five receiving national recognition including three from Oregon, ARIZONA and UCLA. Pac-12 teams have advanced to 10 of the last 12 NCAA Women’s Final Fours. In 2019, the Pac-12 went a combined 11-1 in the first two rounds, the best record for a conference since 1997.

Four years ago, the STANFORD freshman class came in with plenty of expectations and they did not disappoint. With Kathryn Plummer leading a team with no less than four All-Americans, the Cardinal won its NCAA-leading ninth NCAA title and third in four years. The Cardinal, and Plummer, were dominant in the postseason after winning its 19th all-time Pac-12 title, dropping just two sets in the tournament to fellow league-opponent UTAH, who also had a record season. Joining the Cardinal and Utes in the postseason were UCLA, USC, WASHINGTON and WASHINGTON STATE. Twelve student-athletes were tabbed All-Americans by the American Volleyball Coaches Association with WSU’s Magda Jehlarova becoming the first-ever Coug to be named AVCA National Freshman of the Year. Four teams also appeared in the final AVCA Coaches poll. The Pac-12 has won a NCAA-record 17 of 39 NCAA titles awarded.

The Pac-12 baseball and softball seasons abruptly came to an end just before league play got underway because of the COVID-19 pandemic. UCLA was leading the country with the lowest hits allowed per nine innings average (4.97) and best WHIP (0.87). Six Pac-12 student-athletes were named to the 2020 Golden Spikes Award watch list and two were named to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year preseason watch list. The Pac-12 has had nine Golden Spikes Award winners all-time, leading all other conferences. The Pac-12 has, by far, won the most baseball national titles of any conference in the country, claiming 29 titles dating back to 1947 when the first NCAA Championship was contested, including 2019 winner Oregon State.

The Pac-12 has historically dominated the softball field, as well, claiming a national record 24 NCAA titles in the 38-year history of the championship, the most recent coming in 2019 when UCLA captured its 13th all-time. Pac-12 teams captured an unprecedented nine in a row from 1988-1997, then claimed six-straight from 2006-11. At least one Pac-12 team has reached the NCAA Women’s College World Series championship series 30 times. Three teams were among the top-five in the national polls when the season was cancelled in mid-March, including UCLA and WASHINGTON occupying Nos. 1 and 2 in the USA Today/NFCA poll, with ARIZONA ranking in the top five. Twelve student-athletes across five schools were named to the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Watch List, 10 in total were tabbed preseason All-Americans.


Water Polo: Stanford Soccer: Stanford  
  Volleyball: Stanford  


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, Oregon. 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 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 Conference became the Pac-12 and officially began competition on July 1, 2011.

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 the most recent additions coming in the 2017-18 (women’s lacrosse) and 2015-16 (beach volleyball) academic years. 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.