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Poll ranks Irish fifth in U.S.

Dan Murphy | Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Notre Dame was recently ranked fifth among Div. I schools for student-athletes by the National Collegiate Scouting Assoication. The Irish were 12th overall in the sixth annual NSCA poll.

“It’s a point of pride,” Senior Associate Athletic Director John Heisler said. “It’s one thing for the institution itself to talk about what we do, but it’s another to have someone else recognize us and point out where we stand.”

The poll combines athlete graduation rates, academic rankings, and the U.S. Director’s Cup standings. Notre Dame was ranked 20th academically, 21st in the Director’s Cup and had the 30th best graduation rate among all schools in Divisions I, II and III.

Notre Dame finished 12th among all of the nation’s schools. Div. III school Williams University took the overall crown with the top ranking in academics and athletics.

The Irish are in good company on the Div. I list with Stanford, Duke, Princeton and Harvard taking the top four spots in front of Notre Dame. The school’s 23.66 rating was only two points away from Harvard and 2.33 away from Princeton. John Hopkins, Univ. of Pennsylvania, Northwestern, Cornell and Yale rounded out at the top ten.

“That’s probably the No. 1 priority, to make that overall experience as good as it can be. You want everyone of those people to walk away and feel like they had a great four years,” Heisler said.

In 2007, Notre Dame beat out the Cardinal and its Ivy League competitors to grab the second spot behind Duke. Heisler said the annual success stems from a commitment to academics that starts in the recruiting process.

“Academics are a top concern for all of our student-athletes, it’s not up for debate,” he said.

Heisler also said that the polls helped when recruiting players and coaches because it showed that it is possible to remain competitive despite high standards in the classroom.