AZUSA, Calif. – After 9 consecutive Top-10 finishes, Azusa Pacific University is finally alone at the top.
Longtime national power Azusa Pacific captured the 2004-05 Directors’ Cup for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), signaling it as the NAIA’s best athletics program for the year. The Cougars scored in 12 of their 14 intercollegiate sports to tally a Directors’ Cup record 881 points in the NAIA, and finish 182 points ahead of second-place Lindenwood University (Mo.).
Stanford University won the NCAA Division I Directors’ Cup while Grand Valley State University (Mich.) and Williams College (Mass.) took the NCAA Division II and III Cups, respectively.
“We are delighted to receive this significant recognition,” said Azusa Pacific President Dr. Jon R. Wallace. “Our athletic department has a legacy of ‘God-honoring excellence’ in all we do. The remarkable achievements of 2004-05 would not have been possible without each coach, student athlete, trainer, and fan giving a team effort.”
Established in 1995 by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), the Directors’ Cup measures an athletics program’s overall success in annual postseason competitions of its respective association. Schools register points through the advancement of their teams in the national championship tournaments. Azusa Pacific scored in 6 men’s sports and 6 women’s sports, and 9 of those teams advanced to at least the “Elite Eight” of their championship tournament.
Azusa Pacific won one NAIA national championship during the year with men’s tennis collecting its first-ever title. Men’s basketball was the NAIA runner-up, and football and women’s tennis finished in the Top 4 as did the men’s and women’s track & field teams. The men’s and women’s cross country programs both finished fifth at the NAIA Championship Meet, and men’s soccer moved into the “Elite Eight” of its tournament for the first time in program history. Meanwhile, women’s soccer and women’s basketball made “Sweet 16” appearances. Women’s volleyball rounded out the scoring with an NAIA regional tournament bid.
“The Directors’ Cup championship highlights a long unwritten goal of the Cougars,” said Azusa Pacific Director of Athletics Bill Odell. “Azusa Pacific has not only strived to be the best, it has yearned for the trophy, which stood within its reach for so many years.”
Azusa Pacific finished in the top 10 of the Directors’ Cup every year since the program’s 1995 inception, joining Simon Fraser University (B.C.) as the only NAIA institutions to accomplish such a feat. The Cougars finished second to Simon Fraser in 1999 and last year, and were third in 1997, 2000, 2001 and 2003. In fact, Azusa Pacific finished in the Top 4 of the Directors’ Cup the past 7 years.
The Cougars’ 881 points scored this year breaks the NAIA record of 842.25 established by Simon Fraser last year and marks only the third time in Cup history that an NAIA institution eclipsed 800 points (SFU did it in 2001 and last year). The Cougars grabbed the early lead with 381 points in the fall, accumulating points in football (83), women’s cross country (75), men’s cross country (75), men’s soccer (70), women’s soccer (53) and women’s volleyball (25). In the winter, they improved their grip on first place, pushing their margin to 137 points and their total to 684 with scores in men’s basketball (90), women’s indoor track & field (80), men’s indoor track & field (80) and women’s basketball (53).
In the spring, Azusa Pacific needed just one postseason victory from either men’s or women’s tennis to lock up its first-ever Directors’ Cup. What it got instead was a pair of Final Four appearances, including the men’s tennis national championship, giving Azusa Pacific its 25th NAIA team championship, third most in the 69-year history of the NAIA. The tennis teams combined for an additional 183 points.
“One of the most satisfying aspects of this award is the balance that our program displayed,” said Odell. “In the past, some cups have been won on the strength of 3 or 4 sports, but we scored a lot of points in a variety of programs, which best explains why we scored a record number. It also indicates that all our athletes have the opportunity to compete at the highest level – for a national championship.”
Azusa Pacific’s victory in the Directors’ Cup also leads a parade of Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) teams, signaling the GSAC as the premier conference in the NAIA. The GSAC put 4 schools in the Top 20 – others included Point Loma Nazarene University (4th), Concordia University (12th) , Vanguard University (19th) – far away the most by any NAIA-member conference. The Florida Sun, Dakota 10 and Mid-South Conferences each had 2 representatives in the Top 20.
“Our program is one that desires to play the best competition available to prove our mettle, to take on the greatest of challenges and improve who we are as a team,” Odell added. “The Golden State Athletic Conference is a challenging conference, the best in the NAIA across the board, and it properly prepares our athletes for the rigors of national competition.”
Azusa Pacific is the first GSAC and Los Angeles-area school to win the Directors’ Cup. UC San Diego and Cal State Bakersfield are the only other Southern California schools ever to claim a Directors’ Cup, claiming the NCAA Division III and Division II titles, respectively, in 1998.
For winning the Directors’ Cup, Azusa Pacific receives a Waterford Crystal trophy which will be unveiled on campus later this month.
Click here for further information and complete standings for all divisions of the 2004-05 Directors' Cup.