June 23, 2003

NORMAN, Okla. -- - Oklahoma's Stephanie Simon and Chris Mitchell were two of a record 24 Big 12 student-athletes who were awarded $5,000 postgraduate scholarships by the Big 12 Conference at the completion of the 2002-03 academic year, announced by the conference office. This year marks the first time since the Big 12 established the postgraduate scholarships that two Sooners earned it in the same year.

With the 24 honored for 2002-03, the total number of Big 12 postgraduate scholarship awardees has climbed to 88 since the 1996-97 academic year.

A committee of three faculty athletics representatives, one senior woman administrator and one director of athletics select for the postgraduate scholarship awards, which helps student-athletes to continue their formal education.

Simon was a four-year letterwinner on the well-accomplished Sooner women's basketball squad. She becomes the third women's basketball player to be chosen for this scholarship. Jenny Bramer (1997) and Roxanne Long (1998) were the other recipients. As a senior, Simon played in 11 games and started six before ending her collegiate career ended after a knee injury. The Clinton, Okla., native is enrolled in OU's Law College after earning a bachelor's degree in political science. Simon, an excellent student, has received Academic All-Big 12 honors twice and Dean's List, Sooner Scholar and Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll recognition eight times.

Mitchell, a member of the men's tennis team, had quite an eventful year as he advanced to the NCAA Doubles Championships and led the team in singles victories for the second consecutive season. He also was the 2003 Central Region winner for the prestigious ITA/Arthur Ashe, Jr. Sportsmanship & Leadership Award. The zoology major was a three-time Academic All-Big 12 and ITA Scholar Athlete and a two-time Verizon Academic All-District VI At-Large pick as well. The 6-1 right hander established a career singles record of 47-37 and doubles mark of 51-47. The Tulsa, Okla., native plans to remain at OU to attend medical school.

Criteria for these awards include a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale, participation in at least two years of intercollegiate athletics at the scholar-athlete's respective institution, and completion of athletics' eligibility. They must graduate from their member institutions within 15 months of selection as postgraduate scholarship recipients and are expected to enroll in graduate/professional schools within two years after graduation.

Big 12 Conference postgraduate scholarships started at $2,500 per individual in 1996-97 and were raised to $5,000 in 1999. The conference has provided $392,500 in financial aid since May 1997 to deserving recipients. The Big 12 Conference Board of Directors provided 24 postgraduate scholarships (12 men, 12 women) for the 2002-03 academic year to increase the opportunities for a growing number of applicants.

Previous OU Recipients of Big 12 Postgraduate Scholarships:
1996-97 Jenny Bramer, Basketball and Track & Field
1997-98 Roxanne Long, Basketball
1999-00 Virginia Russell, Gymnastics
2000-01 Stephanie Webb, Cross Country/Track & Field
2001-02 Betsy Berry, Golf