Stanford has built quite a cozy nest for itself atop the Directors’ Cup rankings. The Cardinal have finished first in the standings for 18 consecutive years since North Carolina took home the inaugural title. However, looking beyond the top finishers, year-to-year consistency becomes less predictable in a ranking where some of your ‘teammates’ play an entirely different sport. And yet despite the variability, a number of athletic programs have consistently staked higher annual spots for themselves over the past few seasons.
Some of the biggest waves in the pool belong to the Stony Brook Sea Wolves. The Long Island college most notably turned heads with a deep Cinderella run through traditional powers Miami and LSU to qualify for this year’s NCAA College World Series. Remarkably, Stony Brook baseball was just one of the school’s six postseason qualifiers, with nine conference champions in the 2011-2012 academic calendar. Individual honors fell to women’s track and field mile champion Lucy Van Dalen, and FCS Northeast region Under Armor AD of the year award winner Jim Fiore—whose nine-year tenure suggests that Stony Brook’s miracle year might be the first harvest of seeds sewn long ago, rather than just a flash in the pan. Over the past four years, Stony Brook’s final Directors’ Cup ranking has skyrocketed over 200 places to 68th overall and fifth among FCS schools, behind three Ivy leaguers and Georgetown.
In addition to Fiore, Liberty’s Jeff Barber, North Dakota State’s Gene Taylor, Southern Mississippi’s Richard Giannini, and Toledo’s Mike O’Brien also won Under Armor AD of the year awards for ’11-’12, following steady, long-term department success. Since 2006-’07, each school has conspicuously risen in the final Directors’ Cup ranking, consistently (increases in at least 3 of 5 years) and dramatically (overall increases of 40 places or more).
Other such movers include schools currently in the last years with their conferences: Texas San Antonio, San Diego State, and Central Florida. UTSA dropped a bit from 146th in 2010-’11 after consistent growth from a 270th ranking in 2006-’07. Meanwhile San Diego State and Central Florida have catapulted from 106th to 65th, and 237th all the way to 55th, over the past six years, respectively. The Roadrunners are currently competing in their first and only year as WAC members before joining C-USA next summer. The Aztecs will likewise move all sports to the Big West except football, which, along with all UCF Knights sports, will move to the Big East.
South Florida, who joined the Big East in 2005, has seen its Directors’ Cup ranking shoot up (133rd to 76th) since 2006, during which time the Bulls have completely transformed the golf facilities for a women’s team that contributed to the school’s D-Cup tally this past year. Creighton baseball upped its contribution to its school’s overall climb in each of its first two seasons at TD Ameritrade, where the Stony Brook Sea Wolves’ yellow brick road led. Like those Blue Jays, the Blue Hens of Delaware have soared in the Directors’ Cup ranking, from 235th all the way to 116th since Bernard Muir was hired as Athletic Director in 2009. Muir’s success was noticed by another school with a nose for Directors’ Cup success, and he now helms the dominant Stanford Cardinal in their quest for a 19th consecutive title this year. Below is a more complete list of schools that have consistently and significantly climbed the Directors’ Cup rankings since 2006-’07.
Stanford has finished first in the standings for 18 consecutive years since North Carolina took home the inaugural title. The Stony Brook Sea Wolves and FCS Northeast region Under Armor AD of the year award winner Jim Fiore have made significant gains, however. Other such movers include schools currently in the last years with their conferences: Texas San Antonio, San Diego State, and Central Florida