Salina, Kansas (PressExposure) March 08, 2009 -- The Kansas State Wildcats have competed in the NCAA's Big 12 Conference since 1996, along with Iowa State University, the University of Colorado, the University of Kansas, the University of Missouri, the University of Nebraska, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas A & M, Texas Tech, the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Texas. They have Division 1 teams in 14 sports, most notably in men's baseball, basketball, and football. Their sports programs are recognized not only for their on the field success, resulting in 55 conference championships, but also their off the field academic excellence, resulting in the highest athlete graduation rates in the conference across all sports. The Wildcats were initially called the Aggies during the early years of the school, and even adopted the nickname of a Farmers (a rather uninspiring name to be sure), before finally settling once and for all on Wildcats in the 1920 season. Willie Wildcat is the team's official mascot, the duties of which are taken over by a new KSU student each year. The team's logo, called the Powercat, is notable for its single color scheme and abstract design, making it one of the most recognizable in college sports. Kansas State has a particularly strong rivalry with the University of Kansas Jayhawks, especially in men's basketball, where both schools have had a great deal of success over the years, though the Kansas Jayhawks have dominated the matchup in recent years, winning 31 straight games against KSU at one point, and 38 of the last 40. They lead the all time series between the two 177-90. From 1945 to 1976 the two teams dominated their conference, winning the conference championship 26 times in a 33 year span between the two of them. Kansas also has a sizable lead in their football matchups, though KSU has taken 20 of the last 39 matchs since the first Governor's Cup was created between the two in 1969, winning eleven in a row over the Jayhawks at one point. Matchups between the two clubs in any sport are dubbed the Sunflower Showdown, owing to Kansas' moniker as the Sunflower State. The Wildcats football program rose to prominence in the early 1990's, consistently ranking them as one of the top teams in the nation. They had a run of 11 straight bowl appearances from 1993-2003, winning 6 of them, and took home 3 division titles and a conference championship during that span. Their football program has floundered since then, resulting in just 1 bowl appearance in the last 5 years and only 1 winning season over that span. Dozens of players from KSU have gone on to have success in the NFL, including Darren Sproles, Martin Gramatica, and Gary Spani. The basketball program had a good run of success in the late 1980's and early 1990's, making the sweet sixteen of the NCAA March Madness tournament in 1988 (losing to rival Kansas), and making several other tournaments. Their best result was a trip to the finals in 1951, where they lost to Kentucky 69-68 in the last game. After an 11 year absence from the tournament, KSU finally returned in 2008, upsetting sixth seed USC in the first round before bowing out to third seed Wisconsin in the second round. KSU is notable for being one of the first schools in the U.S to encourage racial integration on its sports teams, at a time when civil rights were still lacking in most areas of the U.S. KSU helped break the color barrier in conference play in all major sports, including baseball, where Tiger Woods' late father Earl Woods was the first black baseball player to play a game in the conference (then the Big 7 Conference).
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Press Release Submitted On: April 07, 2009 at 5:10 pm
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