AZUSA, Calif. – For a third consecutive year Azusa Pacific University is the best of the best in the NAIA.
The Cougar intercollegiate athletics program has garnered the prestigious Directors’ Cup, recognizing it as the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ (NAIA) best overall program for the 2006-07 year. Azusa Pacific won this year’s Cup by scoring an NAIA record 978.25 points during the academic year, bettering the former standard of 881 points that the Cougars tallied when they won their first Cup in 2005.
“This is an honor that never loses its significance,” said Bill Odell, Azusa Pacific’s director of athletics. “So many people contribute to this award each year, from the student-athletes, to the coaches, the support staff, faculty, staff, alumni and certainly the administration. There is a commitment at Azusa Pacific to be outstanding in all that we do, and it takes more than one person or a small group of people to assure the high standard and this national achievement.”
The Directors’ Cup is an awards program sponsored by the National Association of the Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) that gauges every collegiate institution’s overall athletic success in a given year. Points are awarded for a school’s postseason advancement in each intercollegiate sport. For instance, a school that wins a national championship collects 100 points. A second-place finish is worth 90 points. Third place is valued at 85 points, and a declining scale continues. The school that tallies the most points through the academic year is rewarded with a Waterford Crystal known as the Directors’ Cup. Four cups are awarded each year to the schools that have scored the most points in the NAIA and NCAA Divisions I, II and III.
Azusa Pacific’s record-setting 2006-07 year was paced by a pair of NAIA national championships and a trio of national runner-up finishes, which combined for 570 of the Cougars’ record-setting 978.25 points. The Cougar track & field programs continued their unparalleled dominance of the sport. The Cougar men’s team captured the NAIA indoor national championship in March, and the Cougar women came back to collect the outdoor national title in May. Combined, the men’s and women’s track & field programs have won an astonishing 23 NAIA national championship titles since 1983, and altogether, the entire Cougar athletics program has won 27 national championships, third most in NAIA history.
In a change from past Directors’ Cup scoring structures, Azusa Pacific was able to count its track & field national results for both the indoor and outdoor championship meets. In the past, a school could only count the best result from the 2 meets. However, this year Azusa Pacific was able to place on its tally board the 100 points from this year’s men’s indoor title and the 85 points from the third place showing at outdoors.
While Azusa Pacific is firmly entrenched as the NAIA’s premier track & field school, the university is also establishing itself as one of the association’s top soccer institutions. For only the second time in NAIA history, one school played for both the men’s and women’s soccer national championships in the same season. The Cougar men and women put together outstanding campaigns in the fall of 2006, both culminating in appearances in the NAIA title game. Though neither result went in favor of the Cougars -– the women lost in 4 overtimes and the men fell in a penalty-kick shootout -- still Azusa Pacific was the national runner-up in both sports.
For the fifth straight year, Azusa Pacific men’s tennis advanced to the national championship match, a first in NAIA history, and finished second for the third consecutive year.
Azusa Pacific also scored Directors’ Cup points in men’s cross country (fourth in the NAIA), baseball (seventh), women’s cross country (ninth), women’s volleyball (11th) and women’s tennis (5th).
Azusa Pacific becomes only the second school in NAIA history to win 3 straight Directors’ Cup titles. Simon Fraser University (B.C.) won 5 consecutive Cups from 1997 to 2001.
The Directors’ Cup honors institutions maintaining a broad-based program, achieving success in many sports, both men’s and women’s. Initiated by NACDA in conjunction with USA Today, the Directors’ Cup began in 1994 for NCAA Division I programs and was expanded in 1996 to include Division II, III and NAIA member institutions.
“We emphasize balance in our program,” said Odell, who was Orlando, Fla., this past weekend to receive the Directors’ Cup at the NACDA annual convention. The fact that 13 of our 14 sports have scored significant points in the Cup program over the past 3 years indicates that we are on the right course.”
Azusa Pacific, UC San Diego (Division III in 1998) and Cal State Bakersfield (Division II in 1998) are the only Southern California schools to win a Directors’ Cup, and the Cougars are the only Southern California school to claim successive titles. Stanford has won an unprecedented 13 straight Directors’ Cup championships at the NCAA Division I level. Additionally, Azusa Pacific is the only member of the Coalition of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) to have ever won a Directors’ Cup.
“It is important that we offer each one of our student-athletes and the teams they play on a realistic opportunity to pursue a national championship each season,” said Odell, who was also named the NAIA West Coast AstroTurf Athletics Director of the Year at the NACDA Convention. “California is a great state for athletics, and we are blessed to have such a rich recruiting pool in our backyard. It certainly enhances our ability to compete on a national level.”
Azusa Pacific’s victory in the Directors’ Cup not only signifies the institution as the best in the NAIA, but the Cougars also lead a parade of Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) members that collectively establish the GSAC as the premier athletic conference in the NAIA. The GSAC is the only NAIA conference to place 5 members in the Cup’s Top 25 standings this year. Following Azusa Pacific’s lead, Concordia University finished a best-ever third in this year’s Cup race with 740 points. California Baptist University was 15th with 531.5 points. Point Loma Nazarene University was 17th with 517.75 with and Vanguard University was 24th with 455.5.
“Playing in such a great conference prepares all of our teams for the challenge presented at national championship tournaments,” said Odell.
The Waterford Crystal trophy of the Directors’ Cup will be publicly presented to the students, faculty/staff, alumni and surrounding community in the coming fall at an Azusa Pacific football game.
Click here for more information on the 2006-07 Directors' Cup and the history of the program.
Past Azusa Pacific Finishes
2006-07 Directors’ Cup Standings (NAIA)
|2002||Third||578||6.||Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)||630.50|
|2001||Third||630||7.||Simon Fraser (B.C.)||614|
|2000||Third||607||8.||Dickinson State (N.D.)||579.50|
|1999||Second||500||9.||MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.)||573.75|
|1997||Third||486||11.||Olivet Nazarene (Ill.)||565.25|