Carolina finished the 2008-09 athletic season in second place nationally in the annual Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup. And for the 14th time in the 16-year history of the award, Carolina also is this year’s highest finishing school in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The runner-up showing is Carolina’s best finish since a tie for second in 1997-98. UNC won the award in 1993-94 and also was second in 1994-95 and 1996-97. Last year, UNC finished in 14th place nationally while still leading the ACC.
The Directors’ Cup, run by the National Association of College Directors of Athletics (NACDA) measures a school’s postseason success in men’s and women’s sports. Each school is ranked based upon its 10-highest men’s and 10-highest women’s finishes.
This was the seventh top 10 finish by the Tar Heels in the past eight years, including top four showings in 2006, 2007 and 2009. By comparison, the ACC’s other 11 schools have a total of five top 10 finishes – and none in the top four – in Directors’ Cup history. The Tar Heels have averaged a sixth-place finish in the award’s history.
The 2008-09 season was one of the best in Carolina history: The women’s soccer and men’s basketball teams won NCAA championships, men’s soccer and women’s lacrosse reached the NCAA finals, the baseball team advanced to the College World Series for the fourth year in a row, and the football team played in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. UNC became the first school in ACC history to compete in a single year in the men’s basketball Final Four, the College World Series and a football bowl game. Twenty-three Tar Heel sports qualified for NCAA postseason play.
Stanford won the award for the 15th straight year with 1,455 points. UNC, with 1,184.25 points, was 11.5 points ahead of Florida. Southern California, Michigan, Texas, California, Virginia, LSU and Ohio State rounded out the top 10.
“We had a truly special year,” said UNC Director of Athletics Dick Baddour ’66. “We’ve been fortunate to do well in the Directors’ Cup before, but this was one of those dream years that we should all take the time to appreciate. Everyone shares in this accomplishment, but I want to especially thank the student-athletes, coaches and staff who worked so hard to represent The University of North Carolina and the members of the Rams Club for providing the scholarships to make this happen. What makes the athletic achievements so rewarding is knowing that our student-athletes also did well in the classroom. It was a great year to be a Tar Heel.”
This year, two UNC sports -women’s soccer and men’s basketball – won their 100th game all-time in NCAA Tournament play. The soccer team’s 100th win came in the national championship game against Notre Dame. The basketball team hit the 100th-game mark in the regional final against Oklahoma. The Tar Heels added two more wins in the Final Four against Villanova and Michigan State. Both women’s soccer (100) and men’s basketball (102) hold the record for most NCAA Tournament victories.
Carolina’s yearly finish in the Directors’ Cup:
1998-99 Tied 17th
1997-98 Tied 2nd*
* Indicates highest finish among ACC schools that year
Related coverage is available online: