Heupel Named Big 12 Male Athlete Of The Year

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma

July 11, 2001

NORMAN, Okla. - Oklahoma football standout Josh Heupel and Nebraska two-sport letter winner Greichaly Cepero have been named the fifth male and female Big 12 Conference Athletes of the Year, the league office announced Wednesday.

Male and female athletes of the year are chosen by a panel of athletic administrators from each conference institution and media from each school's region. One male and one female student-athlete per school was nominated by the directors of athletics from each institution. The selections were based upon the 2000-01 athletic performance and academic achievement with citizenship as a tiebreaker.

Heupel is the Oklahoma all-time leading passer and threw for 6,852 yards in his career. He had an incredible statistical year in 2000 and was the 2000 Heisman Trophy runner-up. The Aberdeen, S.D., senior guided the Sooners to a 13-0 record and helped Oklahoma claim its first national title since 1985. The Sooners won the 2001 FedEx Orange Bowl by defeating Florida State 13-2. Heupel helped the Sooners earn their first Big 12 Conference title by defeating Kansas State 27-24 en route to the BCS national championship showdown with Florida State.

This year Heupel was named the National Player of the Year by the Associated Press, The Walter Camp Foundation, The Sporting News and CBS Sports. Heupel earned first-team All-America honors from the Football Writers Association of America and by The Walter Camp Foundation. He was also named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year.

The football Big 12 Student-Athlete of the Year, Heupel was a Sooner Scholar and is a two-time member of the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll.

Heupel won this year's award among another great class of nominees. Other male student-athletes nominated included Baylor's Kelly Shoppach (baseball), Colorado's Jorge Torres (cross country/track), Iowa State's Cael Sanderson (wrestling), Kansas' Nick Collison (basketball), Kansas State's Jonathan Beasley (football), Missouri's Justin Smith (football), Nebraska's Shane Komine (baseball), Oklahoma State's Mark Munoz (wrestling), Texas' Nate Dusing (swimming), Texas A&M's Bashir Ramzy (track) and Texas Tech's Robert Monroe (football).

Heupel is the fifth honoree from the fifth different school for the Big 12 male honor. He joins Kansas basketball star and 1997 honoree Jacque Vaughn, Nebraska football standout Grant Wistrom in 1998, Texas Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams in 1999 and Oklahoma State golf phenom Charles Howell last year on the league male athlete of the year honors' list. Heupel is the fifth Oklahoma Sooner to earn his conference's male athlete of the year honor and first since gymnast Bart Conner was the Big Eight Male Athlete of the Year in 1981.

In volleyball Cepero was named the AVCA Division I Player of the Year and Big 12 Player of the Year, while leading the Huskers to a 34-0 record and a their second national championship.

Cepero was the only player in the nation at her position (setter) to average 1.80 kills and 1.40 blocks per game. The Dorado, Puerto Rico, native was the lone setter ranked among the nation's top 20 in blocks per game and the only setter in the Big 12 to lead her team in kills every match. Cepero had an astounding .312 hitting percentage, which ranked second in the nation. Cepero led NU with 12 double-doubles, three of which were triple doubles.

In 2000-01 Cepero earned first-team Academic All-Big 12 honors in volleyball and was named to the second-team Academic All-District VII team. Cepero is a member of the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll and received honors from Mult-Cultural Affairs. In addition to Cepero's accomplishments in the class room she was a volunteer for the "I've Got Heart Card Series," and in addition she was an American Education Week panelist, as well as a NU shadowing program mentor.

Cepero also has lettered twice in basketball. Cepero started 16 games for the Huskers while averaging 6.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. In 2000-01 Cepero contributed to the young Husker team that finished with a 12-18 record.

Cepero won the Big 12 Female Athlete of the Year from among a solid group of women's nominees. Other 2000-01 Big 12 female student-athletes nominated included Baylor's Damielle Crockrom (basketball), Colorado's Kara Grgas-Wheeler (cross country/track), Iowa State's Gina Curtis (track), Kansas' Andrea Bulat (track), Kansas State's Austra Skujyte (track), Missouri's Amanda Lassiter (basketball), Oklahoma's Stacy Dales (basketball), Oklahoma State's Maria Boden (golf), Texas A&M's Colleen Lanne (swimming), and Texas Tech's Janelle Jones (volleyball).

Cepero is the first non-University of Texas student-athlete to receive the female Big 12 honor. She joins four Texas honorees for the Big 12 Female Athlete of the Year- track standout Nanceen Perry, the 1997 winner, diver Vera Ilyina in 1998, and track star Suziann Reid in 1999, and volleyball/track standout Erin Aldrich last year. Cepero is the 7th student-athlete from NU to earn conference female athlete of the year honors, dating back to trackster Merlene Ottey's Big Eight Conference Athlete of theYear accolades in 1984.