Kansas Athletics to Host Inaugural Big 12 Leadership Summit

July 15, 2010

LAWRENCE, Kan. – This weekend, student-athletes from all around the Big 12 will get the opportunity to develop a sense of community leadership when the inaugural Big 12 Leadership Summit comes to the University of Kansas.

The conference, which will consist of 48 student-athletes from all of the Big 12 member institutions, was initiated by by the Big 12 Conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) led by former chair and KU track and field alum Matt Baysinger as a way for students to hone their leadership skills amongst their peers.

Student athletes will spend the weekend at the Oread Hotel attending leadership development seminars and working sessions throughout the weekend to enhance their leadership abilities and develop a sense of community within the conference. KU’s contingent for the event consists of Rebeka Stowe (cross country/track & field), Chris Gilbert (men’s golf), Daymond Patterson (football), Monica Engelman (women’s basketball), Shelby Williamson (soccer) and Tayler Tolefree (volleyball).

Baysinger felt that opportunities to attend the nationwide NCAA student-athlete leadership conferences were limited to a select few.

“The NCAA does a fantastic job with their regional and national leadership conferences.” Baysinger said. “Unfortunately, each Big 12 school is only allowed to send one student-athlete per year. We thought it would be a tremendous opportunity to provide leadership development opportunities to more student-athletes in the Big 12 Conference. The Big 12 Leadership Summit will do just that.”

In 2007, the Big 12 SAAC put forth the initial proposal. Baysinger, then the chair of the organization, created and presented a proposal to the Big 12 Executive Board during the spring of 2008.

The event’s progress was then aided by another former KU athlete. Jayhawk diver Hannah McMacken reiterated the importance of developing a leadership conference after being elected to chair the Big 12 SAAC in 2008.

In 2009, the Big 12 Leadership Summit received final approval. KU was chosen as the first hosts based on a strong track record with previous student-athlete leadership conferences and a curriculum for the summit designed by Baysinger, KU Associate Athletics Director Mike Harrity, counseling and sport psychologist Dr. Megan Harrity and counseling and sport psychology graduate assistant Brett Haskell. The event will continue each year rotating between the campuses of the member institutions.

“We are excited for the opportunity to provide a meaningful learning experience for these accomplished student-athletes visiting from throughout the other conference schools,” said Mike Harrity. “We are going to set a high standard of excellence for the Summit and are excited to show off Lawrence and the KU campus.”

The event kicks off Friday night with a dinner hosted by KU Athletic Directors Lew Perkins. The students will participate in several leadership and social activities throughout the weekend, including a speech by Olympic gold medalist and KU great Billy Mills and the Big 12 Special Olympics Kickball Classic, in which several Special Olympians from the Lawrence and Kansas City area will team up with Big 12 student-athletes for kickball.

In conjunction with the Big 12 Leadership Summit, the Big 12 SAAC will also be holding their summer meetings in Lawrence. KU senior Lauren Pollmiller has been elected as the incoming chair of the Big 12 SAAC, which will make her the third Big 12 SAAC chair from KU in the last four years and the first time in conference history that three student-athletes from the same school have been elected as consecutive chairs.