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ATHLETICS: ND takes top spot in fall Directors’ Cup standings

Heather VanHoegarden | Wednesday, January 19, 2005

When athletic director Kevin White came to Notre Dame five years ago, he knew Notre Dame needed to improve its 23rd place finish in what was then the Sears Directors’ Cup. Over the past four years, Notre Dame has finished 11th, 13th, 13th and 19th, respectively.

Now, for the first time in the program’s 12-year history, Notre Dame is No. 1 in the fall standings of what is now the United States Sports Academy Division I Directors’ Cup competition.

“[When I interviewed for the job] we clearly thought we had the ability to be within the top-five,” White said. “So that became an objective, and as I remember that Notre Dame moment in my interview, that has continued to ring true and loudly for my almost five years here.”

The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics sponsors the competition.

The Irish reached the top of the final fall standings of the all-sports competition with 337 points, just four ahead of second place Michigan, who earned points with a quarterfinal finish in women’s field hockey. Stanford, who is the defending champion is third with 332 points. With 327 points, Duke ranks right behind the Cardinal, who took home the national championship in volleyball. Duke had runner-up finishes this fall in both women’s cross country and women’s field hockey.

Notre Dame received 100 points for the women’s soccer team who brought home the national championship. The Irish also received points from a fourth-place finish in women’s cross country, an 11th-place finish in men’s cross country and second round appearances in the NCAA Tournament by both volleyball and men’s soccer.

White credits University President Father Edward Malloy for emphasizing the importance of the Directors’ Cup. When he was interviewed for the job as athletic director, White said Malloy was clear that competing for the Directors’ Cup was a priority, right behind winning a national championship in football.

“Clearly his No. 2 objective was, without saying it so much, the Sears Cup,” White said. “It’s important for everybody to know that I just didn’t wake up here one day and say, ‘Let’s be top-10 or top five,’ that it was an objective that was clearly articulated when I came to Notre Dame.”

White also said progress is still being made in the fall sports, especially with the construction of a new football facility, the Guglielmino Family Athletics Center, set to be completed this fall.

“I think we’re still working hard on the football, and we’re closer than we’ve ever been,” he said. “I think the Guglielmino is a really important thing here, and the new staff and their commitment, the whole thing. So we really feel like we’re on our way in football.”

The final standings for the Directors’ Cup are published following the completion of spring seasons and a final winner is established. White said this is a feasible goal for Notre Dame.

“The real goal is to win a national championship in football and win a national championship in those 23 other sports as well,” White said. “And if we continue to move towards those two goals, we will be No. 1 in the Directors’ Cup.

“The ultimate goal that we haven’t trumpeted is to be the No. 1 program in the country.”