Thursday, 23 May 2024

U.S. Olympic Committee Honors Pac-12 Conference for Commitment to Olympic Sport Programs and Success at Olympic Games Rio 2016

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has announced plans to honor the Pac-12 Conference and its member institutions during the 2017 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament in Las Vegas. This special event, which will take place on Friday, March 10, aims to recognize the Pac-12 institutions’ long-standing commitment to Olympic sport programs and celebrate the success of its athletes at the Olympic Games Rio 2016. This conference tribute is the first of its kind and is part of a key organizational initiative to enhance broad-based Olympic sport programming at the collegiate level.

Collegiate Athletics and Olympic Success
The USOC recognizes the critical role that collegiate athletics play in the success of Team USA. In fact, at the Rio Olympics, nearly 80 percent of U.S. athletes and an even higher percentage of American medalists had collegiate ties. The Pac-12 Conference, with its extensive sport offerings and strong Olympic programs at the university level, was the most represented and decorated conference for Team USA.

Celebrating Olympic Sport Opportunities
The Pac-12 universities have a proud legacy of success both at the collegiate and Olympic level. Olympic-level athletes come to these schools not only for outstanding educations but also to compete at the highest level of college athletics. The USOC is excited to join forces with the Pac-12 in celebrating the myriad opportunities that Pac-12 schools provide for Olympic sport athletes.

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As part of the celebration, an Olympian from each Pac-12 university will be in attendance to highlight the importance of collegiate sport opportunities. These athletes, representing a wide range of sports and spanning nearly five decades of Olympic experience, have a combined total of 24 Olympic medals and 38 NCAA titles among them.

Olympians in Attendance
The following are the Olympians who will be present at the event:

  • University of Arizona: Leah O’Brien-Amico, softball (1996, 2000, 2004)
  • Arizona State University: Townsend Saunders, wrestling (1996)
  • University of California, Berkeley: Dana Vollmer, swimming (2004, 2012, 2016)
  • University of Colorado: Jenny Simpson, track and field (2008, 2012, 2016)
  • University of Oregon: Devon Allen, track and field (2016)
  • Oregon State University: Dick Fosbury, track and field (1968)
  • Stanford University: Kerri Walsh Jennings, beach volleyball (2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016)
  • University of California, Los Angeles: Samantha Peszek, gymnastics (2008)
  • University of Southern California: Bryshon Nellum, track and field (2012)
  • University of Utah: Torin Koos, cross-country skiing (2002, 2006, 2010, 2014)
  • University of Washington: Mary Whipple, rowing (2004, 2008, 2012)
  • Washington State University: Bernard Lagat, track and field (2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016)

During the semifinal session of the Pac-12 tournament on March 10, these Olympians will have the opportunity to thank their alma maters for the chance to pursue their academic degrees while competing and developing as elite athletes.

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Pac-12 Dominance at the Rio Olympics
At the Rio 2016 Olympics, Pac-12 athletes competed in 23 sports for 47 countries. They represented Team USA in record numbers, with 113 athletes from Pac-12 institutions, almost double the delegation from any other NCAA conference. The Pac-12 also emerged as the most decorated conference, with 55 athletes from its institutions returning home with a total of 77 medals for Team USA, including 44 golds, which is twice as many as any other conference.

Recognizing Collegiate Excellence
Of the 75 collegiate institutions represented by U.S. medalists in Rio, three Pac-12 universities – Stanford, California, and USC – finished among the top five performing programs. Stanford, in particular, brought home the most medals for Team USA, with former, current, and incoming student-athletes earning a total of 26 medals in seven sports.

The Role of Collegiate Athletics
Nearly 85 percent of the Americans who earned medals in Rio competed in collegiate athletics. Swimming, track and field, and team sports were among the most popular disciplines for collegiate athletes. Moreover, six sports had full collegiate participation, including basketball, diving, field hockey, indoor volleyball, rowing, and triathlon. Over 90 percent of U.S. rosters in other sports, such as fencing, swimming, soccer, track and field, and water polo, also featured collegiate athletes.

Success in Swimming
Swimming was a standout sport for Team USA at Rio 2016, with U.S. swimmers returning home with the most medals, topping all nations in both overall and gold-medal charts. Of the 38 U.S. swimming medalists, 16 had ties to Pac-12 institutions. These swimmers played a crucial role in contributing to Team USA’s most successful swimming campaign since 2000.

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Continued Collaboration
The Pac-12 recognition event organized by the USOC is a testament to the increasing collaboration between the USOC, NCAA member institutions, and conferences. It aims to raise national engagement and support for Olympic sport opportunities.

The USOC’s plans to honor the Pac-12 Conference and its member institutions at the 2017 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament demonstrate the organization’s commitment to recognizing and celebrating the strong connection between collegiate athletics and Olympic success. The Pac-12 universities have a proud legacy of producing Olympic-level athletes while providing exceptional academic opportunities. This event showcases the ongoing collaboration between the USOC and NCAA member institutions, further strengthening Olympic sport programming at the collegiate level.


1. Will there be opportunities for Pac-12 student-athletes to interact with the Olympians?
Yes, during the Pac-12 tournament, the Olympians will have the chance to thank their alma maters for the opportunities they received as student-athletes.

2. Which Pac-12 university had the most success at the Rio Olympics?
Stanford University brought home the most medals for Team USA, with former, current, and incoming student-athletes earning 26 medals in seven sports.

3. How many Pac-12 athletes competed in the Rio Olympics?
Pac-12 athletes competed in 23 sports for 47 countries at the Rio Olympics. They represented Team USA in record numbers, with 113 athletes from Pac-12 institutions.

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