For only the second time in the 20-year history of The Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup, the University of Notre Dame had a top-10 finish.
Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick, talking with women's basketball coach Muffet McGraw, saw his Fighting Irish finish with the second-best overall sports year at the school in the 20-year history of The Learfield Sports Directors' Cup.
A total of 294 Division I teams tallied points, which are awarded based on each institution’s finish in up to 20 sports — 10 men’s and 10 women’s — with a maximum of 100 points for a national title. Notre Dame’s 9th-place finish is the second-best in the award’s two-decade history, behind the 6th-place result during the 2005-06 academic year.
Notre Dame finished 17th last year and 18th the year prior.
Although the Fighting Irish did not capture a national title in any sport this season, they were consistent across the board, highlighted by a BCS Championship appearance in football, a runner-up finish in fencing and a third consecutive Final Four appearance in women’s basketball.
• Notre Dame was in fourth place after the fall sports seasons ended, garnering 353 points. It received 85 points in football for a third-place finish in the BCS, 73 points in women’s soccer for advancing to the Elite Eight, 64 in men’s soccer (where it had the No. 1 overall seed before losing in the round of 16), 60 in women’s cross country (15th place), 46 in men’s cross country (28th place) and 25 in women’s volleyball (33rd place).
• The winter sports at Notre Dame compiled 390 points to give Notre Dame 743 total and a fifth-place standing overall. Here’s where lacking some sports hurt. For example, Penn State received 100 points for winning the national title in men’s wrestling, while Michigan received for 100 for its No. 1 finish in men’s gymnastics. Notre Dame offers neither sport.
During the winter, Notre Dame received 90 points in fencing, 83 in women’s basketball, and 58.5 in women’s swimming to lead the way. Every other Irish winter sport also scored points: men’s indoor track and field (38.5), women’s indoor track and field (37), men’s swimming (33), and both men’s basketball and hockey received 25 apiece for making the NCAA Tournament.
• The spring is where Notre Dame fell back the most with 272.50 total for the final 1,015.50 score. Its best showing came in men’s lacrosse by advancing to the Elite Eight (60 points), followed by women’s rowing (51 points). The other points came in women’s tennis (50), women’s outdoor track and field (32.5), women’s golf (29), men’s tennis (25) and women’s lacrosse (25).
Cracking the top 10 in the future might be tougher when Notre Dame officially makes its move from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference on July 1.
Notre Dame was far and away the dominant program in the Big East with its ninth-place finish. Louisville was second with its No. 38 placement — despite upsetting Florida in the Sugar Bowl in football, winning the national title in men’s basketball, finishing as the runner-up in women’s basketball and going to the College World Series in baseball. Syracuse was 39th. (The Cardinals and Orange also will be joining the ACC in the future.)
The ACC had a better overall showing with North Carolina (8th), Florida State (11th), Duke (12th), Virginia (20th), North Carolina State (34th) and Virginia Tech (36th).
Stanford won The Cup for the 19th straight year. Here was the final top 10 for the 2012-13 academic year, with total points accumulated:
1. Stanford — 1,261.25
2. Florida — 1,244.75
3. UCLA — 1,227.25
4. Michigan — 1,138.25
5. Texas A&M — 1,131.50
6. Penn State — 1,100.00
7. Oklahoma — 1,078.25
8. North Carolina — 1,075.33
9. Notre Dame — 1,015.50
10. Georgia — 1,006.75