The Big 12 announced its Spring Scholar-Athlete of the Year award winners Thursday, as Vanessa Shippy was honored as the softball recipient and Craig Nowak received the distinction for men's track and field. Oklahoma State was one of just three schools to have multiple athletes honored.
The Big 12 Conference established its Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award in 2012-13 and a recipient is named in each conference-sponsored sport. Every Big 12 institution nominates one individual per sport with the winners selected by a vote of the league head coaches for that sport, who are not allowed to vote for their own student-athletes.
Scholar-Athlete of the Year nominees must be a junior or senior (athletic and academic standing), have a cumulative grade point average of 3.20 or higher, participate in at least 60 percent of the team's scheduled contests and have a minimum of one year in residence at the institution.
Shippy, a junior, excelled on the field in 2017 as she led the Cowgirls with a .398 batting average paired with 48 runs and 46 RBIs on her way to being named an All-American for the second-straight season. She was honored as a first team selection for the 2017 All-Big 12 Team for her performance last season.
Off the field, Shippy was recognized for her outstanding effort in the classroom as she was named an Academic All-American and an Academic All-Big 12 first team selection for the second-consecutive year. Shippy is the first Cowgirl in program history to be named a two-time Academic All-American and two-time All-American.
Heading into her senior year in 2018, Shippy has a chance to become just the second Cowgirl to be named a three-time All-American and the first to be a three-time Academic All-America selection. Shippy was also named the Big 12 Player of the Year in 2016.
Nowak has shown remarkable consistency in his last two seasons with the Cowboy cross country and track and field teams. After overcoming injuries and illness during his freshman and sophomore campaigns, Nowak has blossomed into one of the most decorated middle-distance runners in the program and seeks his third All-America honor at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships this week.
As a four-time Big 12 Champion, the Cowboy senior has scored 61 points at the conference meet since 2016. His All-America honors include a sixth place finish in the distance medley relay at the 2017 NCAA Indoor Championships and a 16th place finish at the 2014 NCAA Cross Country Championships. He aims for another in the 1,500m finals tomorrow night at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
Nowak is also not a stranger to academic success, as he has been honored on the First Team Academic All-Big 12 Team for both track and field and cross country, as well as the USTFCCCA All-Academic Team for cross country.