June 19, 2013 - 11:36pm
BY ALEXA DETTELBACH
While University of Michigan classes may have ended in April, the 2012-2013 athletic calendar has been in full swing in the last few months — literally. The men’s College World Series will end early next week marking the official end to the athletic season.
Now that it’s almost the offseason for college athletics, awards for best athletic program are being divvied up. One of the top awards, the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup, is given annually to the schools with the most successful athletics in 10 men’s sports and 10 women’s sports. Since its inception in 1993, Stanford had won 18 of the 19 cups — with the exception of the inaugural season when UNC won it. This season proved to be no different for the Cardinals, who won it a 19th-straight time.
But this year was closer than years past, as the University of Michigan remained in the lead late into the season.
Prior to the April 25 round of voting, Michigan was in first place. Riding its success from the NCAA men’s basketball tournament as well as national championships from the men’s swimming and men’s gymnastics team, the Wolverines were riding the wave of athletic success this season. The May 30 voting put Michigan in second with only the women’s softball team earning points for making it to the WCWS.
The Wolverines best finish was a runner up to Stanford following the 2003-2004 season.
Unfortunately Michigan fell to third place in the final scoring on June 14, as Florida used strong performances in track and field to finish in a close second to Stanford. The Gators missed out on the top spot by 41.50 points — the smallest margin in the history of the award. The finish marked the third time the Wolverines have finished third in the standings.
Despite falling short of the Director’s Cup, Michigan is finishing its best athletic season in decades. In addition to its two national championships from men’s swimming and men’s gymnastics, the Wolverines made their first appearance in the NCAA men's basketball finals for the first time in 20 years. The women’s volleyball team made it to the Final Four for the first time ever. The women’s basketball team won its first round tournament game for the first time since 2001, while the softball team made it to the Women’s College World Series for the first time since 2009. In addition, the women’s gymnastics team started off the season as the top-ranked squad, but fell just short in the NCAA tournament.
Even without the Directors’ Cup the 2012-2013 athletic season was certainly worth celebrating. And with experienced coaches and veteran athletes returning, next year could be even better.