University of Oklahoma gymnasts Allan Bower and Chayse Capps are among the 20 student-athletes from Big 12 Conference schools who were named recipients of the 2016-17 Dr. Prentice Gautt Postgraduate Scholarship, the league office announced Tuesday. The amount of each scholarship is $10,000.
The scholarships are named in honor of the late Dr. Prentice Gautt, a former Big 12 Conference staff member and student services' pioneer who passed away in March 2005. Gautt, who earned his undergraduate degree from OU in 1960, broke new ground in 1956 as the first African-American football student-athlete at the university under hall-of-fame head coach Bud Wilkinson.
A two-time All-Big Eight Conference football selection and CoSIDA Academic All-American, Gautt played professionally for the Cleveland Browns in 1960 and the St. Louis Cardinals from 1961-67.
The list of all-time recipients of the scholarship has grown to 401 since the inception of the league in 1996-97. Starting in 2002-03, additional funding increased scholarship award winners to two per member institution.
To date, the Big 12 has provided more than $2.9 million for postgraduate education. The individual grants began at $2,500 in 1996-97, were raised to $5,000 in 1999 and increased to $6,900 for 2004-05. The awards climbed to $7,500 in 2006-07, moved to $9,000 in 2011-12 and to $10,000 in 2013-14.
Bower adds the award to an already historic list of career achievements. An 11-time All-American and current U.S. Senior National Team member, Bower has been part of Oklahoma's historic run of three consecutive NCAA championships. With Bower on the roster, the Sooners racked up a record of 99-3 that includes and active stretch of 76 straight wins, the longest streak in program history. At the 2017 NCAA Championships, Bower earned All-America honors on six of the seven events and finished in the top three on five. He is a three-time MPSF All-Academic Scholar-Athlete and Academic All-Big 12 At Large Team selection, earning the honors in each year he was eligible for them. Bower will graduate in December and plans to attend medical school.
Capps leaves Oklahoma as one of the most decorated Sooners in program history. A part of three NCAA national title teams, Capps finished as an 11-time All-American, the most such honors ever for a Sooner, and added eight regular season All-America accolades from the NACGC/W. In 2017, Capps was named an AAI Award finalist, given to the top senior gymnast in the nation, and was one of four finalists for the prestigious Honda Sport Award. A 10-time All-Big 12 selection, she won four Big 12 team titles and five individual conference crowns and was the two-time Big 12 Gymnast of the Year, as well as the Newcomer of the Year in 2014. Additionally, Capps excels in the classroom, earning three NACGC/W Scholastic All-America accolades and four Academic All-Big 12 selections. The Plano, Texas, native will graduate from OU in May 2018 as a health and exercise science major and plans to attend school to become a physician assistant.
Criteria for the Gautt Scholarship include a cumulative GPA of 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, participation in at least two years of intercollegiate athletics at the nominee's respective institution and completion of athletics eligibility. The student-athletes also must graduate from their respective member institutions within 15 months of their selection for a postgraduate scholarship and are expected to enroll in graduate/professional schools within two years of graduation.
Three faculty representatives, one senior woman administrator and one director of athletics form the selection panel for the awards.