Buoyed by six teams that finished in the top 16 nationally, Missouri boasted the best finish in school history — 33rd place — in the Learfield Directors’ Cup standings, which were released Thursday by the National Association of College Directors of Athletics and USA Today.
“This year’s success is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our coaches, student-athletes and staff, and I’m confident that even greater things are in store for our program in future years,” Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk said in a statement from Tigers athletic department.
Among Mizzou’s best-performing teams, wrestling finished fifth at the NCAA tournament during March in St. Louis, while women’s indoor track and field finished eighth, men’s swimming and diving finished ninth, women’s swimming and diving finished 13th, women’s cross country finished 16th and volleyball reached the Sweet 16 of its tournament.
Olympic bronze medalist J’den Cox paced the wrestling team by winning his third NCAA championship at 197 pounds, while Karissa Schweizer paced the track and field/cross country teams by becoming the third winner of the distance triple crown, sweeping titles in cross country, the indoor 5,000 meters and outdoor 5,000 meters.
The Director’s Cup competition measures a school’s collective athletic success across various sports: Points are tallied based on each school’s finish in up to 20 sports in Division I , 10 men’s and 10 women’s sports.
Despite well-documented struggles in the two most visible sports, football and men’s basketball, the Tigers totaled a school-record 662.75 points in the Learfield Director’s Cup and finished 53rd or better overall for the 18th straight season.
“I think football and (men’s) basketball are poised to make good moves forward, so I’m excited about the coming year,” Sterk said Wednesday in a meeting with reporters in Columbia.
The previous school record for highest Directors’ Cup finish was 36th in 2008-09, which also was the last time Mizzou managed a top-40 finish.
Thirteen of the Tigers’ intercollegiate programs recorded Directors’ Cup points, while four other teams — gymnastics, women’s outdoor track and field, women’s basketball and men’s golf — posted top-25 finishes for MU.
Stanford won the Directors’ Cup for the 23rd consecutive year, followed by Ohio State and Florida.
Mizzou finished 10th among SEC teams, placing ahead of Mississippi (39th), Tennessee (46th), Mississippi State (49th) and Vanderbilt (64th).
Texas, which finished seventh, was the highest-finishing Big 12 program, while Kansas checked in 57th and Kansas State was 66th.
Among other schools of regional interest, Nebraska placed 37th, Iowa State was 59th, Missouri State finished 135th,Wichita State was 139th and football-less UMKC checked in 213th.