June 30, 2006

A best-ever sixth-place finish in the 2005-06 United States Sports Academy Division I Directors’ Cup all-sports competition sponsored by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (formerly known as Sears Directors’ Cup) adds an exclamation point to the most successful across-the-board athletic year in University of Notre Dame history.

The Irish, whose previous high finish in the Directors’ Cup competition was 11th (three times, most recently 2000-01), also produced record numbers of All-Americans (44), Academic All-Americans (14), combination All-Americans/Academic All-Americans (five), BIG EAST Championship teams (13, a league record), teams qualifying for postseason play (24) and teams finishing in the national top 15 (13) in ’05-`06.

Notre Dame had nine teams finish in the national top 10 in end-of-season rankings – and had six sports achieve top-10 finishes in NCAA competition. The Irish produced three national coaches of the year in Charlie Weis (football), Tracy Coyne (women’s lacrosse) and Jay Louderback (women’s tennis), and they had four programs finish in the top four of their respective NCAA championships — men’s and women’s fencing (they compete for a combined championship), women’s lacrosse and men’s cross country.

In addition, nine Notre Dame assistant coaches have become Division I head coaches in their respective sports since the conclusion of the 2004-05 seasons.

“Our sixth-place finish in the Directors’ Cup competition is a tribute to the dedication and excellence of a large group of student-athletes, coaches, administrators and support staff – and we are deeply appreciative of all of their contributions,” said Notre Dame athletics director Kevin White.

“We’re pleased with the progress we’ve made as we’ve continued to chip away in the rankings. But, we’re not satisfied. Our next challenge is to find away to continue to move up the ladder.”

In spring sports competition, Notre Dame earned 368 Directors’ Cup points thanks to its record-tying quarterfinal appearance in the NCAA women’s tennis competition (73 points), a round of 16 NCAA appearance in men’s tennis (64), an NCAA semifinal appearance in women’s lacrosse (41.5), a program-best ninth-place finish in the NCAA rowing championships (37), a first-round NCAA men’s lacrosse appearance (12.5), a regional finalist appearance in NCAA softball (50), a 50th-place finish in NCAA men’s golf (23), a 32nd-place finish in NCAA women’s outdoor track and field (42, displacing the women’s indoor track points) and NCAA regional participation in baseball (25).

In winter sports NCAA competitions, the Irish earned 125.5 points based on their fourth-place finish in fencing (40 points), a 33rd-place finish in men’s indoor track and field (39.5), a 39th-place finish in women’s indoor track and field (would have been 32.5, but the value was zero points because the women’s outdoor track total was higher and only the larger of the indoor and outdoor figures is counted), a 41st-place finish in women’s swimming (21) and a first-round NCAA appearance in women’s basketball (25). Point values in ’06 for Irish men’s and women’s lacrosse and fencing are half what they have been in past years, because this is the initial year the NACDA Cup scoring system permits allocations of only 50 percent of points for sports that have an NCAA participation rate of 25 percent or less.

Fall NCAA competition earned the Irish 412 points based on their third-place finish in men’s cross country (85 points), seventh-place finish in women’s cross country (69 points), quarterfinal appearance in women’s soccer (73), third-round appearance in men’s soccer (64), regional semifinal appearance in women’s volleyball (64) and 11th-place finish in football based on the final USA Today poll (57). Notre Dame ranked atop the final fall standings for the second straight year – and its 412 points marked its highest-ever fall total.

Stanford (1197.375 points) finished first overall, thanks to its ’05 NCAA title in women’s cross country, its ’06 title in women’s tennis and runnerup finishes in men’s water polo and women’s indoor track and field. UCLA (’06 NCAA champion in women’s water polo and men’s volleyball) took second (1071.375 points), followed by Texas (’06 women’s indoor track and field NCAA champion).

In previous years in which the Directors’ Cup competition has been held, Notre Dame has finished 11th in 1993-94, 30th in 1994-95, 11th in 1995-96, 14th in 1996-97, tied for 31st in 1997-98, 25th in 1998-99, 21st in 1999-2000, 11th in 2000-01, 13th in 2001-02, tied for 13th in 2002-03, 19th in 2003-04 and 16th in 2004-05.

Here are the final standings:

1.Stanford 1197.375
2.UCLA 1071.375
3.Texas 966
4.North Carolina 952.75
5.Florida 913
6.Notre Dame 905.5
7.California 865.5
8.Duke 851.25
9.Georgia 850.75
10.USC 840

In addition to the on-the-court athletic exploits, here’s what Notre Dame student-athletes accomplished away from the fields of play in 2005-06:

* 72.3 percent (473 of 654) of all student-athletes had a 3.00 or better during the 2005 fall semester.

* 73.4 percent (469 of 639) of all student-athletes had a 3.00 or better during the 2006 spring semester.

* All 24 teams had a semester GPA of better than 3.00 in the fall of’05.

* All 22 teams (men’s and women’s cross country are counted with track during spring semester) had a semester GPA over 3.00 in the spring of ’06 (combined GPA: 3.226 fall – highest ever; 3.224 spring).

* Sixteen of 20 athletics teams compiled graduation rates of 100 percent and none were below 90 percent based on the new Graduation Success Rate (GSR) developed by the NCAA. Notre Dame had the highest percentage of its sports with 100 percent GSR scores (.800 – 16 of 20). In football, Notre Dame achieved a 96 GSR rating with only the United States Naval Academy (98) ranking higher among Division I-A schools.

* Thirteen sports earned a perfect 1,000 score when the NCAA first issued Academic Performance Rate numbers in 2005.

* Student-athletes completed over 2,300 hours of community service (increase of approximately 340 hours) reaching over 3,000 individuals and assisting 40 non-profit organizations and schools.

* Notre Dame was named to the National Consortium on Academics and Sports Outreach Community Service Honor Roll for the third time in four years.