Wednesday, July 20, 2011

College Athletic Program Rankings: Stanford Wins Learfield Sports Directors' Cup as Top University for Division I Athletics for the 17th Straight Year: Competing NCAA Capital One Cup is a Farce

At the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Stanford athletes won 25 medals. Consider that fact in forming your opinion about the matters under discussion below.

As can be found at the NACDA OFFICIAL ATHLETIC SITE, Stanford University has won the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup for the 17th straight year in a remarkable record without parallel, outdistancing the 2nd place Ohio State Buckeyes 1550.25 points to 1277.05 points.

The Learfield Sports Directors' Cup for the top Division I college athletics program is based on performance by the highest ranking 20 teams at each university in all college sports (10 men's and 10 women's teams).

Stanford competes not only athletically but also academically AS WELL with the likes of Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Columbia, who with Stanford are the top 5 ranking academic universities in the U.S. News and World Report), whereas Yale and Harvard in athletics e.g. finished among the also-rans at 84th and 89th place with 226.0 and 194.0 points respectively.

Stanford's achievement is all the more remarkable when one looks at the disparity in undergraduate student enrollments at competing universities -- e.g. where 2nd place Ohio State has 6 to 7 times more undergraduate students. There is no doubt that the best all-around university in America for student-athletes is Stanford.

Here are the top 10 schools on the Learfield list, their points and their enrollments, although the Directors' Cup ranks ALL SCHOOLS -- see their list):

1. Stanford - 1550.25 points (the undergraduate enrollments only 6602, of whom ca. 800 are student-athletes) - see also impact of enrollment on football
2. Ohio State - 1277.05 points (undergraduate enrollment 41348)
3. California - 1219.50 (undergraduate enrollment 25530)
4. Florida - 1212.25 (undergraduate enrollment 33628)
5. Duke - 1171.50 (undergraduate enrollment 6578)
6. North Carolina - 1160.75 (undergraduate enrollment 17981 - the Tar Heels won the first Directors' Cup and Stanford has won it every year since then)
7. Virginia - 1092.00 (undergraduate enrollment 15476)
8. Texas A&M - 1090.50 (undergraduate enrollment 38810)
9. Florida State 1079.00 (undergraduate enrollment 30803)
10. Oklahoma - 1064.75 (undergraduate enrollment 21059)

Obviously, money and scholarships have a lot to do with the Stanford success, but given Stanford's low total enrollment and stringent academic standards, the main factors for Stanford's sustained success are surely effective recruiting, top coaching, a climate of excellence, and an atmosphere of achievement.

It also helps that Stanford is ranked Number 1 among all US colleges and universities as the place to which young people dream of going for their college education. Note that Stanford also ranks at the top for many of its graduate schools.

Accordingly, there is no fault -- as some have claimed -- with the Directors' Cup method of determining the winner by treating all college sports equally.

The award was not designed for Stanford, but the award does reflect the fact that Stanford has the nation's best college athletic program when all sports are taken into account. No one really doubts this.

One should note here that a competing award having NCAA blessing, the Capital One Cup, a "corporate" moneymaker award, was just created in September, putting emphasis on a few major sports and "weighing" differently the importance of various sports against each other. As written at the Sports Business Journal Daily by Michael Smith in Cup’s scoring irks college sports execs:
"[A] national championship in cross country, tennis or golf is worth 20 points. Championships in lacrosse, track and soccer are worth 40 points. Basketball and football championships earn that school 60 points. The system was based on fan interest, attendance and other factors."
Scoring Table Capital One Cup

1st place - 20 points, 2nd place - 12 points, - 3rd place - 10 points, 4th - 8 points, 5th - 6 points, 6th - 5 points, 7th - 4 points, 8th - 3 points, 9th - 2 points, 10th - 1 point

Comment: why e.g. a 1st place for purposes of assessing a college athletic program should be worth twice as much as 3rd place or five times as much as a 7th place is anybody's guess. This is a point evaluation system designed by ignoramuses.


Worse, sports are greatly differentiated as to point totals for no conceivable ATHLETIC REASON: 

GROUP 3 SPORTS get points according to the above scoring table with NO BONUSES, i.e.:
MEN: cross country, golf, indoor track & field, tennis, ice hockey, wrestling
WOMEN: cross country, golf, indoor track & field, tennis, field hockey, rowing 

GROUP 2 SPORTS get the points according to the above scoring table, but with DOUBLED point totals:
MEN: lacrosse, outdoor track & field, soccer, swimming & diving
WOMEN: lacrosse, outdoor track & field, soccer, swimming & diving

As a golfer, I can only say here that these groupings were made by even greater ignoramuses than those who did the scoring tables, although there is good reason to suspect that these were one and the same group of incompetents. Something like 30 million people play golf in the United States. How many play lacrosse? Words can not define the idiocy that seems to pervade the NCAA. It also makes great sense to make an INDOOR jump worth less than an OUTDOOR jump, presuming the sun is shining of course. What fools are these at the NCAA please?

GROUP 1 SPORTS get the points according to the above scoring table, but TRIPLED point totals:
MEN: baseball, basketball, football
WOMEN: softball, basketball, volleyball

In other words, to match the point totals given to a GROUP 1 sports champion (e.g. baseball), another college would have to win EVERY SPORT in GROUP 3 in either men's or women's competition (6 sports) -- not too likely.

Of course, the major factor for the Capital One Cup is MONEY, putting more emphasis on the sports that bring in revenues to college and conference coffers, and thus to the NCAA. This is a view of college athletics totally outside the realm of university education, but something we would expect from an NCAA that for a number of years now has greatly exceeded its competence and is working, in our view, largely to the detriment of college student-athletes, and more in favor of moneyed interests.

The Capital Cup One award is really geared to the few money-making sports in college.

For the record, the inaugural winners were the University of Florida for men's sports and Stanford University for women's sports. Here are the men's standings

Men's Capital One Cup Final Standings
1 – Florida (93 pts)
2 – Virginia (82 pts)
3 – Auburn (70 pts)
3 – Texas A&M (70 pts)
5 – Stanford (69 pts)
6 – Cal (61 pts)
7 – Connecticut (60 pts)
7 – Eastern Washington (60 pts)
7 – South Carolina (60 pts)
10 – Ohio State (52 pts) 
  As one can see from the placement of Auburn (FBS national football champion) at number 3 with 70 points and Connecticut (FBS national basketball champion) and Eastern Washington (FCS national football champion) tied at number 7 with 60 points, the winning of an FBS or FCS football championship in NCAA Division I -- worth 60 points -- makes a college a lock for a top position in the Capital One Cup, even if were not to compete in any other sports. A college that won two major sports in any year would be virtually unbeatable in this ranking system, even if it were an FCS school. Forget the rest of the athletics program.  The Capital One Cup would, for example, have us believe that FCS Eastern Washington's athletic program is to be ranked 7th nationally by performance, just below Stanford, which is of course, nonsense. In the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup Eastern Washington earned 100 points for its FCS national football championship and otherwise did not earn a single point in any other sport. Nothing against Eastern Washington, and what a great success their FCS football championship was, but you can not compare their athletics program to programs like Stanford:  Eastern Washington University athletic program

basketball (M, W) - 0 points
tennis (M, W) - 0 points
cross country (M) - 0 points
football (M) - FCS Champion - 60 points Cap1Cup - 100 points Directors' Cup
track & field (M) - 0 points
golf (W) - 0 points
soccer (W) - 0 points
volleyball (W) - 0 points

Stanford University athletic program and points according to the Directors' Cup

women's cross country - 13th, 51 points
men's cross country - 4th, 80 points
women's field hockey - 9th - 25 points
men's FBS football - 4th, 80 points
women's soccer - 2nd, 90 points
women's volleyball - 5th, 73 points
women's baseball - 3rd, 83 points
fencing - 10th, 60 points
women's gymnastics - 25th, 46.5 points
men's gymnastics - 1st, 100 points
women's swimming & diving - 4th, 80 points
men's swimming & diving - 3rd, 85 points
women's indoor track & field - 15th, 59.25 points
men's indoor track & field - 8th, 69.75 points
men's wrestling - 11th, 66 points
men's baseball - 9th, 64 points
men's golf - 31st, no points
women's golf - 23rd, no points
women's lacrosse - 9th, no points
women's rowing - 2nd, 90 points
women's softball - 9th, 64 points
women's tennis - 2nd, 90 points
men's tennis - 5th, 73 points
women's track & field - 8th, 69.75 points
men's track & field - 6th, 73.5 points
women's water polo - 1st - 100 points

IN evaluating all of these sports, the Directors' Cup gives a full overview over a college athletic program and fairly does not excessively award staggered points just to winners but also to those participating competitively.

By contrast, the Capital One Cup is just one more example that the NCAA is rotten to the core and beholden mostly to money interests and political sports polls, rather than to the welfare of all student-athletes throughout the nation. There is nothing wrong with the Directors' Cup nor with Stanford winning it regularly - 25 Olympic medals for Stanford in 2008 tell the story well. Universities wishing to compete will have to make comparable investments in their STUDENTS, not in moneyed interests.  The flaw in the Capital One Cup is that it portends to measure the success of college athletic programs, which it does not do at all. Only the NCAA could come up with this kind of an abomination. It is a farce, even if the Stanford ladies nevertheless came up first. Our comment is thus not sour apples, it is righteous indignation at an organization -- the NCAA - gone badly sour.
The NCAA needs to be totally revamped and competent people should be found to run its affairs.

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