Cavalier Athletics Program Earns 11th Straight Top-20 National Ranking

NCAA trophies graphic

A third consecutive NCAA men’s tennis championship helped the University of Virginia to a 19th-place finish in the final 2016-17 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup competition, the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics announced Thursday.

UVA placed in the top 20 for the 11th consecutive year and is one of 12 schools to rank in the top 30 of the final Directors’ Cup standings in each of the program’s 24 years.

Points in the Director’s Cup standings are awarded by a school’s finish in each sport in which it competes in NCAA postseason play. Each school may count its highest finishes in 10 men’s sports and 10 women’s sports.

“It’s not easy to achieve consistent success in intercollegiate athletics and the streak of top 20 and top 30 Directors’ Cup finishes speaks to the hard work of our student-athletes and coaches and the support of our University administration, donors and fans over a long period of time,” Director of Athletics Craig Littlepage said. “In addition to tracking our progress in the Director’s Cup ranking, we have set ambitious 10-year goals which include winning 12 NCAA championships and 70 ACC championships by the spring of 2022. At the mid-point of this period, while we recognize it will be a challenge to reach these goals, we remain focused to achieve them.

“Our ‘All In For Excellence’ fundraising initiative plays an important part in our effort to reach these goals as it is designed to provide the necessary resources to put our student-athletes in the best position to compete for championships. I invite all of our supporters to join this effort.”

Since the fall of 2012, UVA has won six NCAA championships and 24 ACC titles. The All In For Excellence fundraising initiative is designed to generate necessary resources to support Virginia’s pursuit of the 10-year goals. The fundraising target for this year, ending in December, is $24.2 million, including an annual fund goal of $19.2 million. The Virginia Athletics Foundation is responsible for all fundraising activities and more information about the All In For Excellence initiative can be found here.

In addition to Virginia’s third consecutive NCAA men’s tennis championship, men’s track and field placed a program-best third nationally and men’s golf placed a program-best 10th. Field hockey advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals and rowing placed 11th nationally. Women’s swimming and diving placed 12th at the NCAA Championships and the men’s and women’s soccer programs each made NCAA Sweet 16 appearances.

UVA captured three Atlantic Coast Conference championships in 2016-17, in field hockey (its first in program history), men’s tennis (12th overall) and rowing (eighth consecutive and 17th in 18 years). UVA’s 76 conference titles since the spring of 2002 are the most of any ACC school during that time.

Individually, Filip Mihaljevic captured NCAA titles in the men’s shot put and discus at the outdoor championships. Thai-Son Kwiatkowski claimed the NCAA men’s tennis singles championship and field hockey junior midfielder Tara Vittese repeated as the Longstreth/NFHCA National Player of the Year.

Jimmy Stanger (men’s golf), Georgia Ratcliff (rowing), Mihaljevic (track & field) and Kwiatkowski (men’s tennis) earned ACC Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors.

Additional highlights of Virginia’s 2016-17 athletics year included: 

  • 19 of UVA’s 25 athletics programs advanced to NCAA postseason competition.
  • The wrestling team finished 15th at the NCAA championships, marking its second-highest finish in program history.
  • The men’s soccer team qualified for its 36th consecutive NCAA Tournament (a Division I men’s soccer record) and advanced to the third round. 
  • Men’s soccer head coach George Gelnovatch matched his predecessor Bruce Arena for the program record with his 295th win as Virginia’s head coach.
  • The women’s soccer team advanced to NCAA Round of 16 for the 12th consecutive season and Alexis Shaffer was named ACC Offensive Player of the Year, ACC Midfielder of the Year and Hermann Trophy semifinalist.
  • Volleyball’s Jasmine Burton earned AVCA honorable mention All-America honors. 
  • Football’s Quin Blanding (Sporting News, second team) and Micah Kiser (Football Writers Association of America) earned All-America accolades. 
  • Taquan Mizzell became the first player in ACC football history with at least 1,500 career rushing yards and 1,500 career receiving yards. 
  • The men’s cross country team made the NCAA championships for the fifth consecutive year. 
  • Jordan Young was named ACC Men’s Indoor Field Performer of the Year. 
  • Filip Mihaljevic was named ACC Men’s Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year. 
  • The men’s basketball team advanced to its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1981-84, led the nation in scoring defense (allowing 56.4 points per game) and recorded its school-record fifth straight season with 23 or more wins.
  • The women’s basketball team won 20 games and earned the ACC’s automatic bid to the WNIT tournament.
  • Wrestler George DiCamillo became UVA’s first national finalist since 2000 (and third all-time) and was named ACC Wrestler of the Year. 
  • Jimmy Stanger won the ACC men’s golf individual championship and became the first PING first-team All-American in program history. 
  • Women’s golfer Anna Redding was selected as an individual competitor at the NCAA Regional. 
  • Under the direction of first-year head coach Joanna Hardin, the softball team won 22 games, its most since 2012, and qualified for its first postseason appearance since 2013. 
  • Rowing head coach Kevin Sauer was elected to the Women’s Collegiate Coaches Hall of Fame.
  • The baseball team competed in the NCAA Tournament for the 14th straight season, the fourth-longest active streak in Division I baseball. 
  • Pavin Smith and Adam Haseley were selected seventh and eighth, respectively, in the MLB First-Year Player Draft, marking the first time position players from the same school were taken in the first round since 1988. 
  • 322 student-athletes were named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll.

Stanford University finished first in the NCAA Division I Directors’ Cup standings for the 22nd consecutive year with 1,563 points, and The Ohio State University was second with 1,343.75 points.

UVA was one of four ACC programs to finish in the top 25 of the Directors’ Cup standings. Other ACC schools in the top 25 of the Directors’ Cup standings were the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (fifth, 1,154), Florida State University (13th, 921.75) and the University of Notre Dame (23rd, 801).

There are five Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup awards, one to honor the institution with the best overall athletics program in each of the NCAA’s Divisions I and I-AAA, II and III and the NAIA. The Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup was developed as a joint effort between the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics and USA Today.

Media Contact

Erich Bacher

Assistant Athletic Director for Public Relations