Big 12 announces partnership focused on student-athlete well-being


Photo: Huiling Wu/Iowa State Dai

Bob Bowlsby answers the media’s questions at a Big 12 meeting Aug. 21, 2012, in the Jacobson Building’s Hunziker Auditorium. 

Sam Stuve

The Big 12 Conference has announced a new partnership with Rachel Baribeau, which aims to promote the health and well-being of Big 12 student-athletes.

This partnership will provide the 10 Big 12 schools, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Christian, Texas Tech and West Virginia, programming to supplement and support student-athlete well-being, according to a Thursday press release. 

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby commented on the partnership.

“I welcome the opportunity for the Big 12 and its schools to work with Rachel and her I’m Changing the Narrative program,” Bowlsby said in Thursday’s press release. “This impactful platform helps student-athletes to make better choices in their personal lives, while destigmatizing mental and emotional support outreach, and removing barriers to advocate on issues of social justice.” 

Baribeau is a sports broadcaster who has been in the industry for 17 years working for programming networks such as CBS Sports, ESPN, Fox Sports, SiriusXM Radio and Yahoo.

In 2016, she launched a movement, #ImChangingtheNarrative, which was launched, “With student-athletes in mind and a belief that one crooked course made straight is everything. One misstep not taken means one less victim in the world and one less life thrown away because of a split-second bad decision,” according to the initiative’s about page.

“The mission of I’m Changing The Narrative is to promote positive mental health and GOOD love for yourself and others to serve as inspiration for students, professionals and parents to create an individual legacy of purpose, passion and platform,” according to the about page.

Since the launch of the campaign, Baribeau has traveled to over 40 universities and has spoken to many student-athletes.

She has spent the time talking about many different issues, according to the release. 

Since August 2016, Baribeau has had these discussions with student-athletes.

“Talking to young athletes, coaches and staff about being Kings and Queens through purpose, passion and platform; and an increased and real look at mental health and how we deal with these issues,” Baribeau said in the news release. “Also, on a deeper level, how we look at/respect women in society as a whole and within their universities.”

The narrative has been issued 40 schools, which means it has been distributed to thousands of student-athletes. 

While the mental and emotional well-being is at the forefront of the narrative, there are other aspects that are discussed.

The program also covers issues related to prejudice, lack of true purpose, poverty, interpersonal relationships, social justice and more, according to the news release. 

In the news release, Baribeau provided comments on the partnership and the initiative as a whole.

“Since starting the program in 2016, we have had one central goal: saving and profoundly changing lives by giving permission for those in need to take action within themselves first, and when necessary by seeking outside help and support,” Baribeau said. “I am humbled and honored to be working with Commissioner Bowlsby, the Big 12 Conference and its member schools. Student-athletes, coaches & support staff are uniquely positioned to be such incredible forces for positive change in society, yet many of them struggle with their own ‘funky junk’ of mental and emotional illness, prejudice, lack of true purpose, poverty, poor interpersonal relationships, and more. At ICTN, we help show a safe path to embrace and transcend those issues, empowering each person to make a change, not only in themselves but in their teams, schools and communities.”