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Director's Cup within Reach

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April 7, 2005
Gary Pine
AZUSA, Calif. – Azusa Pacific has regained the lead in the 2004-05 Director’s Cup race and heads into the upcoming spring sports postseason as the No. 1 athletics program in the NAIA this year.

By virtue of the Cougars’ second-place finish in the NAIA Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament and a “Sweet 16” showing by the women’s basketball team, Azusa Pacific collected 143 additional points and now has tallied 684 points on the year to create a 137-point lead over second-place Lindenwood (Mo.).

Established by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and USA Today, the Directors’ Cup measures an athletic program’s yearly success based on performances in postseason play in each collegiate affiliation championship events. NAIA member institutions can tally points in 12 different sports, 6 men’s and 6 women’s.

Azusa Pacific grabbed the early lead in the NAIA division this year with 381 points, scoring in all 6 of its fall sports. The best showing came from the football team which garnered 83 points for a third-place finish in the NAIA Playoff Series. Men’s and women’s cross country each tallied 75 points for their fifth-place showings in their respective national championship meets. An NAIA quarterfinal appearance by men’s soccer netted an additional 70 points while women’s soccer collected 53 points by qualifying for the 20-team NAIA Tournament. Women’s volleyball tacked on 25 points for moving into the semis of its regional playoff tourney.

During the winter season, Azusa Pacific men’s and women’s track & field each finished fourth at the NAIA Indoor Track & Field Championships to combine for 160 more points. However, national championships in men’s indoor track & field and wrestling, along with top 10 showings in women’s indoor track & field, and men’s and women’s swimming gave 2003 Cup champion Lindenwood a narrow and brief lead over Azusa Pacific until the new standings, which incorporated men’s and women’s basketball results, were released today.

Azusa Pacific has already scored on the national level this season in 10 of 14 sports. While men’s and women’s track & field can add on a few extra point in the outdoor championships with possible improvements over their indoor showing, the crux of the Cougars’ hopes for a first-ever Directors’ Cup championship rests with the men’s and women’s tennis teams. Currently, the Cougar men, who have advanced to the NAIA title match each of the past 2 years, are the top-ranked team in the NAIA. The Cougar women are ranked No. 4 in the latest NAIA Tennis Coaches’ Poll.

Though it has never won a Directors’ Cup title before, Azusa Pacific is 1 of only 2 NAIA programs to finish in the Top 10 every year since the Cup’s 1996 inception. Simon Fraser (B.C.), a 6-time Cup winner and the reigning champion, is the other school.

Other schools leading their respective affiliations after the winter season include Stanford University (NCAA Division I), Grand Valley State University of Michigan (NCAA Division II) and Williams College of Massachusetts (NCAA Division III).

Click here to view the current and entire NAIA standings for the 2004-05 Directors’ Cup.

The next standings update will be released from NACDA national office June 2 with the final standings and national winner being announced June 17.