AZUSA, Calif. – For the fourth consecutive year Azusa Pacific University has won the Directors’ Cup, recognizing the 16-sport Cougar athletics program as the best in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) during the 2007-08 season.
Director of Athletics Bill Odell represented Azusa Pacific which was officially awarded the cup during ceremonies today at the 43rd Annual National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Convention in Dallas, Texas.
The Directors’ Cup is a prestigious awards program, initiated by NACDA in 1993, that annually honors the best overall collegiate athletics programs in the country. Points are awarded to each school based on the postseason advancement of a pre-determined number of men’s and women’s sports.
For the 2007-08 campaign Azusa Pacific scored 947 points, out-distancing second-place Simon Fraser University (B.C.) by 129 points to win the NAIA title and become only the sixth school ever to win 4 straight Directors’ Cups. Stanford University, UC Davis, Grand Valley State University (Mich.), Simon Fraser and Williams College (Mass.) have accomplished similar feats in their respective associations.
“We don’t take lightly winning consecutive Directors Cups,” said Odell. “This year’s cup is just as rewarding as the first one in 2005. The whole cup program has become a healthy source of pride and motivation for our coaches, athletes, students, alumni and fans throughout the entire year. The campus-wide interest in the pursuit of the cup continues to grow each year.”
Three NAIA national championships and a pair of runner-up finishes jettisoned Azusa Pacific to the 2007-08 crown. The Cougars scored cup points in 14 sports but based on program rules could only count 12 of them (6 men’s and 6 women’s teams). The 947 points are the second highest winning score in NAIA history, trailing only the 978.25 the Cougars tallied in winning last year’s title.
“We understand that with consistency of success comes a standard by which others measure themselves,” said Odell. “The spotlight is on us, and we’re somewhat a standard bearer in the NAIA. As I’ve said before we’re blessed to be located in an area with a very deep talent pool from which to recruit. Yet to mold and shape championship-contending teams it takes great coaches of tremendous character, a supportive administration and faculty, and a solid institutional academic reputation that potential student-athletes find attractive.”
Men’s Soccer and men’s track & field combined for 300 of Azusa Pacific’s points this year, winning their respective NAIA championships to bring the university’s all-time total to 30, third most in NAIA history.
For head coach Phil Wolf and the Cougar soccer team, it was their first NAIA national title after finishing as the runner-up each of the previous 2 seasons. The went 20-1-1 on the season and used a stellar defense to post a school-record 14 shutouts, including blanks in both the NAIA semifinal and championship games.
Reid guided the Cougars to a sweep of the NAIA indoor and outdoor track & field championships, making Azusa Pacific the first school to take both track & field crowns in the same season since 2002 when Reid and the Cougars accomplished the same feat that year as well.
Azusa Pacific came within a whisper of garnering 2 more national championship, finishing second in both women’s soccer and women’s indoor track & field by the narrowest of margins.
For the second straight year Azusa Pacific put both its men’s and women’s soccer teams in the national championship game (a first in NAIA history), but for the second year in a row head coach Jason Surrell and the Cougars had to settle for second place by just 1 goal. It was the Cougars’ fourth title-game appearance in the past 11 years.
In women’s track & field, head coach Mike Barnett and his Cougars finished second at the indoor championship meet, missing the title by just 1 point in the second closest finish in NAIA history.
Azusa Pacific also posted top 5 finishes men’s tennis (third), men’s basketball (fifth), women’s outdoor track & field (fourth) and women’s tennis (fifth).
Azusa Pacific led a parade of unequalled performance in Directors’ Cup history. The Cougars were 1 of 5 Golden State Athletic Conference teams to finish among the Top Ten. Never before on any level has one conference been so well represented in the final Directors’ Cup standings. With 684 points Fresno Pacific University enjoyed its finest showing ever, finishing fourth. Concordia University was fifth (679.5), followed by California Baptist University at sixth (679) and Point Loma Nazarene University at tenth (618.25).
In other Director’s Cup finishes, Stanford won the NCAA Division I title while Grand Valley State claimed the DII crown. Williams won the DIII cup for the tenth straight year.
Click here to view final NAIA standings of the Director's Cup.