WKU Athletics delivered in historic and record-setting fashion this year, putting together the best all-around year of all 14 C-USA members in terms of conference competition and academics and making an impact in postseason play.
“Our coaches and student-athletes deserve tremendous credit for all that was accomplished in 2014-15,” said Director of Athletics Todd Stewart. “It was our goal to make an impact in our initial year in Conference USA, and we certainly did on the field of play and in the classroom. It is great to see their sacrifices and commitment rewarded with significant accomplishments. Congratulations also to Miranda Kramer and Brandon Doughty on being named WKU’s student-athletes of the year. WKU has had many distinguished performances throughout our rich athletics history, and the seasons these two had undoubtedly rank among the greatest in Hilltopper history. Their accomplishments are even more meaningful because they led their respective teams to new heights.”
WKU won eight C-USA championships, a bowl game and a men’s swimming and diving conference invitational title in 2014-15, and the eight total league championships tied the C-USA record for its 20-year history (Tulsa, 8; 2011-12). WKU was the first league member in C-USA history to win eight championships plus a bowl game.
WKU’s volleyball, women’s basketball and softball programs all won both the conference regular-season and tournament titles, and the Hilltopper Indoor Track and Field and Lady Topper Outdoor Track and Field programs also captured C-USA championships.
The overall success of the athletic department in 2014-15 also earned WKU a league-high point total in all-sports rankings, marking the second-straight year WKU has had an all-sports title. Using a formula that awards the most points for a first-place conference finish, the second-most points for a second-place finish and so on, across all league-sponsored sports, WKU topped Rice for the most points in C-USA after winning the 2014 Bubas Cup all-sports title in its final year in the Sun Belt Conference.
In addition, WKU student-athletes won 55 C-USA Player of the Week awards in 2014-15, the most in the conference and topping second-place Rice by 16.
With volleyball, women’s basketball and softball all winning C-USA Tournament titles and participating in the NCAA Tournament, WKU was one of just 12 programs in the nation to have all three programs play in the NCAAs. The three programs combined for 94 wins in 2014-15, which was the second-highest victory total among the 12 programs.
The 12 programs with volleyball, women’s basketball and softball all playing in the NCAA Tournament, with combined win totals, are Florida State (107), WKU (94), Washington (94), BYU (92), North Carolina (91), Texas (88), Oklahoma (86), Arizona State (83), Texas A&M (82), LSU (81), Kentucky (80) and Nebraska (78).
By becoming bowl eligible for the fourth-straight season in 2014, the WKU Football program holds the longest bowl-eligible streak in C-USA. The win in the inaugural Popeyes Bahamas Bowl gave WKU its second-straight eight-win season behind the strength of the nation’s fourth-best offense.
WKU saw 56 student-athletes receive 2015 C-USA Commissioner’s Academic Medals for having a grade point average of 3.75 or higher, the most of any school in the league.
Each of WKU’s teams achieved an Academic Progress Rate score of 947 or higher in the NCAA’s latest APR release, all exceeding the NCAA-mandated 930 score by at least 17 points.
Athletes of the Year
In addition to all of the impressive team and athletic department accomplishments in 2014-15, WKU saw perhaps two of the finest individual performances in its history by football’s Brandon Doughty and softball’s Miranda Kramer, and the two were named WKU’s Student-Athletes of the Year as a result.
Doughty led WKU to its first bowl game win in its Football Bowl Subdivision era and had the nation's best numbers in passing yards (4,830) and touchdowns (49) in 2014. Doughty is the nation's active career leader in touchdown passes (63) and passing yards (7,800), while ranking No. 2 in completion percentage (66.8) and No. 3 in total offense (7,637). Doughty holds nearly every major career record for passers in Hilltopper football history and enters 2015 just 766 yards off the career passing yardage mark. He broke 15 records for WKU, Conference USA and FBS play in 2014 and was named the Conference USA Most Valuable Player.
Kramer put together the finest season in WKU softball program history in 2015, at one point leading the nation in strikeouts, strikeouts per seven innings and fewest hits allowed per seven innings and ranking second in shutouts and earned run average. She was named the Conference USA Pitcher and Newcomer of the Year, and in her lone season on The Hill she ended in the top five in career strikeouts (439) and season and career earned run average (1.24). Kramer threw three no-hitters and a perfect game during the season.