DALLAS -- For the fifth time in 13 years, Abilene Christian University finished second in the United States Sports Academy Director's Cup standings, which were announced Thursday.
ACU won three team national championships on the season and finished as the runner-up at the men's indoor track and field and championship meet on its way to earning an all-time best 808 points. Ten of ACU's 14 athletic programs reached NCAA post-season play with the men's and women's cross country and track and field teams contributing all three national championships and contributed 526.5 points to the Wildcats' cause.
However, those championships and all of those points weren't enough to overtake the Lakers, who won their fifth straight USSA Director's Cup title at the NCAA Division II level. Despite not earning a single individual championship, Grand Valley State captured the Division II Cup with 1028.75 total points. The Lakers placed in 17 postseason championships, earning points in the maximum of seven men's and seven women's sports. Grand Valley State finished third in women's cross country, women's soccer, football, women's golf, fourth in men's cross country, men's indoor track and field, and fifth in women's volleyball and men's basketball. The Lakers also placed sixth in men's outdoor track and field and women's indoor track and field, eighth in women's outdoor track and field, 14th in men's golf, 16th in women's swimming and 17th in men's tennis.
Last year ACU finished third in the Director's Cup standings with what was then a program-record 761.75 points. However, the Wildcats moved up one spot to the runner-up position this year with another program-record 808 points. The Wildcats were fourth in the standings after the fall with 222 points (100 from men's cross country, 69 from women's cross country and 53 from football) before falling to ninth after the winter standings with 379.5 points (90 from men's indoor track and 67.5 from women's indoor track).
However, a huge spring from the Wildcats helped push them back into the runner-up spot behind the Lakers. The men's and women's track and field teams contributed 200 points to the Wildcats' cause with a pair of national championships (100 points apiece), while the men's and women's tennis teams each contributed 64 points for ninth-place finishes. The softball team chipped in 50 points, while the men's golf team added 50.5 points. The ACU athletics department has asked the USSA why the ACU baseball team – which reached the regional tournament – wasn't awarded points for its NCAA appearance.
Since the Director's Cup became a part of collegiate athletics, ACU has finished in the top three seven times, in the top 10 in 10 seasons and in the top 15 all 13 years of the standings. ACU, in fact, is the only NCAA Division II institution to finish in the top 15 in the final standings in each of the 13 years of the program. Cal-Davis, which won six Director's Cups before making the move to NCAA Division I status after the 2002-03 academic year, appeared in the top five in all eight final standings while it was a Division II institution, and Cal State-Bakersfield appeared in the top 15 11 straight years before the Roadrunners made the move to NCAA Division I status.
"The USSA Director's Cup is something we're striving every year to win, and we're very proud of the way our student-athletes competed this year to allow us to finish second," ACU director of athletics Jared Mosley said. "ACU has one of the great athletic traditions in Division II and we're all proud that we have the chance to build on that tradition every year."