Gators finish third in Director’s Cup

A national championship in football led a program-record tying 12 Gator athletic teams among the nation’s top 10 in 2008-09 national competition, propelling the University of Florida to a third place finish in the 2008-09 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup. The finish matches the second-highest for the Gator program, second only to Florida’s tie for second in the 1998-99 standings.

Florida is the only program in the nation to finish among the nation’s top 10 in each of the last 26 national all-sports standings.

The Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup, presented annually by the nation’s athletics directors, recognizes the schools with the best overall sports performances in an academic year. Points are awarded based on finishes and participation in 20 NCAA Division I sports. Florida fielded 18 sports that advanced to NCAA Championship action, compiling 1,172.75 points for the third-place overall finish. It’s the second time Florida has finished third.

Stanford collected its 15th consecutive Directors’ Cup title in 2009 with 1,455 points while North Carolina was second at 1,184.25.

A school-record tying 12 Gator athletic teams turned in top-10 finishes in 2008-09, marking the eighth consecutive year that 10 or more Gator athletic teams finished among the nation’s top 10. This is the fifth time 12 Florida teams were among the nation’s top 10 in a single season (previously in 1992-93, 2001-02, 2003-04, 2007-08, 2008-09).

Florida’s 2008 BCS National Championship in football was the apex of the 2008-09 for the Gator program. Softball finished runner-up at the Women’s College World Series and the Florida men’s track and field team finished second nationally at both the NCAA indoor and outdoor meets.

The complete list of Florida’s 2008-09 top-10 teams includes:

● Football (No. 1)

● Softball (No. 2)

● Men’s Indoor Track & Field (No. 2)

● Men’s Outdoor Track & Field (No. T-2)

● Gymnastics (No. 4)

● Men’s Swimming & Diving (No. 5)

● Women’s Swimming & Diving (No. 6)

● Women’s Outdoor Track & Field (No. 9)

● Baseball (No. T-9)

● Soccer (No. T-9)

● Women’s Tennis (No. T-9)

● Volleyball (No. T-9)

“The Gator football team’s national championship was truly a highlight for this season, but there was plenty to be proud about when looking at the entire Gator athletic program,” Florida Athletics Director Jeremy Foley said. “Our student-athletes and coaches strive to compete at the highest level and we are truly fortunate that they represent the University of Florida in such an exceptional manner. Gator fans can look forward to the upcoming season because we know the Gators will look for further success.”

In Southeastern Conference action, Florida led the league with six team championships in 2008-09 — football, soccer, softball, women’s swimming & diving, women’s track & field and volleyball. Those titles helped UF sweep the New York Times Regional Newspaper Group SEC All-Sports titles. It was the 19th overall title for UF, 16th women’s and 13th men’s. The SEC Male Athlete of the Year went to Tim Tebow for the second consecutive season. The quarterback of the Gators’ BCS/Associated Press Championship football team had a spectacular junior campaign, winning the Maxwell Award in addition to being recognized as the SEC Offensive Player of the Year.

Individually, nine Gators claimed a total of nine NCAA individual titles in 2009. Junior Gemma Spofforth claimed the 100 and 200 backstroke titles for the third consecutive year. At the men’s swimming national championships, junior Shaune Fraser set the NCAA record in the 200 freestyle and broke the UF 200 butterfly record en route to taking both titles and senior Bradley Ally set the NCAA 200 individual medley record to claim the meet’s title. At the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships, junior Mariam Kevkhishvili collected her second consecutive NCAA Indoor shot put crown and added the outdoor title in June, making her the first in the nation to sweep the titles since 2005. Christian Taylor used a school-record leap to claim the indoor triple jump title, becoming the first UF freshman to win an NCAA Indoor title since 2001. At the Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Florida’s men’s 400-meter relay team consisting of Dennis Martin, Calvin Smith, Terrell Wilks and Jeremy Hall claimed the crown. During the 2008-09 season, 64 UF student-athletes earned 161 All-America honors.

Florida was also successful away from the athletic arena in 2008-09. A total of seven UF student-athletes earned ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America honors — the second highest total in school history. Florida’s Tim Tebow (football) and Stacey Nelson (softball) were named the Academic All-American of the Year for their respective sport.

2008-09 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup Standings

Rank School Total

1. Stanford 1455.00

2. UNC 1184.25

3. FLORIDA 1172.75

4. USC 1137.75

5. Michigan 1131.80

6. Texas 1105.50

7. California 1072.00

8. Virginia 1059.00

9. LSU 1029.00

10. Ohio State 1015.80

Gators by the Numbers

12 top-10 national finishes by 2008-09 Florida teams matched the school record.

7 Gators named ESPN The Magazine Academic All-Americans.

87 percent Graduation Success Rate for UF, as reported in 2008 NCAA Federal Graduation Rate Data. UF is one of only four programs in the 2008-09 Learfield Sports National All-Sports top 10 to post a GSR above 85%.

$53 million contributed since 1990 by the UAA to UF to fund academic endeavors.

More than 1.1 million fans attended 170 home events in 2008-09. Three UF teams ranked among the nation’s top 10 in attendance.

498 student-athletes participated in 3,183 hours of community service in 2008-09, partnering with 17 local schools, four civic organizations and 24 non-profit organizations.

UF Annual Finishes in National All-Sports Rankings

Year UF Finish

1983-84 5th

1984-85 4th

1985-86 8th

1986-87 4th

1987-88 5th

1988-89 9th

1989-90 5th

1990-91 5th

1991-92 5th

1992-93 4th

1993-94 4th

1994-95 5th

1995-96 3rd

1996-97 5th

1997-98 T2nd

1998-99 4th

1999-00 7th

2000-01 7th

2001-02 3rd

2002-03 7th

2003-04 6th

2004-05 6th

2005-06 5th

2006-07 6th

2007-08 6th

The University of Florida Sports Information Department contributed this report.