Tennessee showed improvement in the NACDA (National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics) Learfield Directors’ Cup this past year. But they still have plenty of work to do.
In the final standings released on Saturday, Tennessee finished 35th in the Directors’ Cup standings. The Directors’ Cup is presented annually to the NCAA’s top overall athletic department. Last year, UT finished 46th overall. So they managed to step up their overall game, but their placement as 35th overall was only good enough for 11th in the SEC.
One of the bits of information that’s grabbed the most attention about Tennessee’s placement is the bonus Tennessee Athletics Director Phillip Fulmer received because of where the Vols finished. Because Tennessee placed inside the top-40 in the standings, Fulmer received a $90,000 bonus. Former UT AD, John Currie, would’ve received the exact same bonus had he still been in charge. If Tennessee finishes inside the top-10 of the standings, Fulmer would receive a $150,000 bonus.
Two SEC teams finished inside the top-10 of this year’s Directors’ Cup. Florida placed third behind Stanford — which won the Directors’ Cup for the 24th consecutive year — and UCLA. Georgia placed 8th. The Gators finished with a score of 1,216, and Georgia finished with a score of 1,046.35
The only three SEC teams to place behind Tennessee’s 624.5 points were Ole Miss (38th), Mississippi State (42nd), and Vanderbilt (55th).
Directors’ Cup scoring comes from the finish of each individual sport in the NCAA Championships. As many as 19 sports can be scored for every program, but four of those program’s must be men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and volleyball. Typically Stanford wins every year because they have more qualifying teams than other schools, and the lowest scores are dropped if schools have more than 20 qualifying programs. Stanford fields around 35 different teams recognized by the NCAA.
Tennessee had an uphill climb after the fall. UT only scored 83.5 points after the fall update of the standings but made up for it with 290 points in the winter and 251 points in the spring.
Tennessee’s football team scored zero points in the fall after a 4-8 season and failure to make a bowl game. The highest scoring fall sport for UT was women’s soccer, which earned 50 of the 83.5 points UT got in the fall. The only other team to score for Tennessee in the fall was the men’s cross country team. Tennessee doesn’t field teams in some of the fall sports such as field hockey, water polo and men’s soccer, so that partially explains the low ranking.
In the winter, Tennessee earned 50 points apiece from the men’s and women’s basketball teams. The women’s swim team earned the most points of any UT athletic team in the entire Directors’ Cup, bringing in 72 points after a No. 7 finish in the NCAA Championships. The men’s swim team scored 66 points, and the men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams combined for the other 52 points in the winter.
The spring saw big contributions from the women’s softball team (64 points) and men’s tennis (50 points). UT’s baseball team failed to earn any points, but all of UT’s other qualifying teams — men’s track and field, women’s track and field, men’s golf, women’s golf, and women’s tennis — all earned points.
You can view the full rankings here.