- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

IRVING, Texas (AP) - All-America tackle Spencer Drango is working on a master’s degree when not on the field blocking for fifth-ranked Baylor’s offense. Kyven Gadson became a national champion wrestler at Iowa State after his father, who was a conference champ at the school, died of cancer.

Those are just two of about 150 student-athletes to be profiled this academic year through the “Big 12 Champions for Life” campaign. The 30-second public service announcements will be shown in the conference’s stadiums and during television game broadcasts starting Saturday. Longer-form videos, generally 2-3 minutes long, will be available online.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Wednesday that one of the goals of the campaign is “to change the tone and tenor of the perception of student-athletes” by sharing their stories.

“One out of every five student-athletes is a first-generation college kid. There’s a lot to celebrate,” Bowlsby said. “It’s intended to enforce the value of an athletic scholarship and the opportunity that it provides for young kids.”

Bowlsby said the campaign’s launch was intentionally timed to coincide with the first weekend there is a full schedule of conference football games.

Ten student-athletes, one from each of the league’s schools, will be profiled in the initial spots this week. Athletes representing track, basketball and soccer will also be part of the first spots.

While each school is represented, Bowlsby said the league’s presidents and chancellors agreed that the spots shown at different stadiums won’t be only from that school since the goal is to celebrate student-athletes across the league.

“Athletic scholarships provide these young people with a possibility to better their lives,” said Kirk Schulz, president of Kansas State and a member of the NCAA executive committee. “The vast majority of student-athletes are taking full advantage of this life-altering opportunity.”

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Online: www.Big12championsforlife.com


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