May 28, 2008
WACO, Texas -
Baylor junior Mamadou Diene and Kansas junior Katie Martincich were named the 2007-08 Big 12 Sportspersons of the Year, the conference announced Wednesday.
Diene is first Baylor male to receive the prestigious, eight-year-old award and the second student-athlete in school history, joining women's basketball player Jessica Stratton in 2004. He is the first-ever men's basketball student-athlete in the conference to receive the award.
"Back home in Senegal we live closely and help one another, I think that's why I'm so helpful and open to other people," Diene said of receiving the award. "I love visiting hospitals and young children at schools. They are always happy to see us and it puts a smile on their face. I really enjoy that."
The Sportspersons of the Year Award was started in 2000-01 to annually recognize student-athletes who displayed an extraordinary degree of sportsmanship and/or community service during the academic year. Diene and Martincich were selected by a media panel. The Big 12's recipients are nominated for the NCAA Sportsmanship Award.
Since his arrival from Senegal, Mamadou has been active in the Baylor community participating in service projects such as the Waco Independent School District's Raise Your Game, South Bosque Elementary School and the Hillcrest Professional School Health Fair. He is a member of BU's Student-Athlete Advisory Council, has been selected as the 2008 Wilma Rudolph Award winner and participated in the 2006 NCAA Leadership Conference in Orlando, Fla.
To help minimize his expenses, the seven-foot center does not own a car or cell phone so that he can send money back to Senegal to help support his family. Both of his parents died prior to his 14th birthday, leaving his older sisters to raise him. He is the first member of his family to attend a university and is on track to graduate in August, just three and a half years after arriving at Baylor.
On the court, Diene helped lead Baylor to a turnaround season in 2007-08 in which the Bears earned their first national ranking in 39 years and made their first trip to the NCAA Tournament in 20 years. Diene, who is nicknamed "The Mayor" due to his overwhelming popularity on campus, averaged 3.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and led the Big 12 in blocks in conference games with a 2.1 average. His 120 career blocks and 1.82 career blocks average both rank second in school history.
Martincich, a volleyball player, has been involved in KU student-athletes' community outreach projects in her three years on campus including Habitat for Humanity, the Susan G. Komen Foundation and National Girls and Women in Sports Field Day celebration. She also assisted with providing and wrapping gifts for underprivileged children at Christmas.
BIG 12 SPORTSPERSONS OF THE YEAR
2001 - Dan Alexander, Nebraska; football
2002 - Cael Sanderson, Iowa State; wrestling
2003 - Jeff Leise, Nebraska; baseball
2004 - Mark Clayton & Lynn McGruder, Oklahoma; football
2005 - Ahmard Hall, Texas; football
2006 - Parker Dalton, Texas A&M; baseball
2007 - Carl Pendleton, Oklahoma; football
2008 - Mamadou Diene, Baylor, basketball
2001 - Kim Woodlee, Kansas State; basketball
2002 - Natalie Ritchie, Texas Tech; basketball
2003 - Laura Pilakowski, Nebraska; volleyball
2004 - Jessika Stratton, Baylor; basketball
2005 - Richelle Simpson, Nebraska; gymnastics
2006 - Jodie Heinicka, Missouri; gymnastics
2007 - Amanda Costner, Kansas; golf
2008 - Katie Martincich, Kansas; volleyball