Considered the Heisman Trophy of gymnastics, the Nissen-Emery Award, founded by trampoline inventor George Nissen, has been handed out to the nation's top senior collegiate gymnast annually since 1966. Since the award's inception, Oklahoma has claimed a nation-leading seven Nissen honorees including Bart Conner (1981), Jarrod Hanks (1991), Dan Fink (1998), Todd Bishop (1999), Daniel Furney (2003) and Jonathan Horton (2008).
In 2011, Steven Legendre became the seventh Sooner to capture the honor. Athletes, coaches and judges vote on the Nissen winner who is, according to the standards, "more than simply an excellent gymnast...he must also be an example of good sportsmanship and fair play. A champion in defeat as well as in victory."
Steven Legendre (2011)
The 2011 winner, Legendre owns the Oklahoma record for career NCAA individual titles at six, a mark previously held by Olympic silver and bronze medalist Jonathan Horton. Legendre is also a 12-time All-American, the third most honors collected by a Sooner in program history.
Jonathan Horton (2008)
The program's most decorated gymnast, Horton was the 2008 Nissen-Emery recipient in one of the strongest fields in the award's history. Horton's 18 career All-America honors and six individual national titles are program records. In addition to his collegiate prowess, he was also a member of two World Championships teams, finishing fourth in the all-around in 2007 and guiding Team USA to an Olympic berth.
Daniel Furney (2003)
Furney won the 2003 Nissen-Emery Award, claiming individual national championships in the parallel bars and the all-around. Furney finished his OU career as a nine-time All-American. He was a member of the NCAA team national champions when the Sooners went back-to-back in 2002 and 2003.
Todd Bishop (1999)
In 1999, Oklahoma became the first program to produce back-to-back Nissen Award winners when Todd Bishop earned the prestigious honor. Bishop was also the first non-all-arounder to receive the Nissen since the award's inception. Bishop won two straight NCAA titles on high bar in 1998-99 and was a seven-time All-American for OU. In addition, Bishop scored the first 10.0 in Oklahoma men's gymnastics history in 1999 with three perfect high bar performances in the regular season.
Daniel Fink (1998)
Fink was Oklahoma's third honoree, receiving the award in 1998. He was a three-time conference champion and a four-time All-American and won the national championship on still rings in 1998. Fink also participated in the 1997 Maccabiah Games, an international, Olympic-style competition for Jewish athletes. A 1998 Sooner co-captain, Fink made the President's Honor Roll in seven semesters, the Dean's Honor Roll in two semesters and was a nine-time Sooner Scholar. He was also honored with the Big 12 Conference Medal Award and was named OU's "Outstanding Male Scholar Athlete of the Year" in 1998.
Jarrod Hanks (1991)
Hanks, a two-time conference champion and five-time All-American, was the 1991 recipient of the Nissen Award. He was team captain of the 1991 Sooner squad that won the national championship. Hanks also served as an Oklahoma assistant coach from 1996-99.
Bart Conner (1981)
Conner, Oklahoma's first Nissen-Emery Award winner, received the honor in 1981. Conner was a seven-time conference champion and nine-time All-American for the Sooners. He also won three national championships and was named co-recipient of the Big Eight Conference "Male Athlete of the Year" award in 1981. The University of Oklahoma also claimed back-to-back NCAA Championships during that span, winning titles in 1977 and 1978. Conner was a member of three Olympic teams (1976, '80, '84) and won two gold medals at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.