Will the 2012-13 school year be remembered as the greatest athletically in Notre Dame history?
Notre Dame vice president/director of athletics Jack Swarbrick has seen his department thrive with coaches such as Muffet McGraw (right).
If you base it on the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup, it might be. The Directors’ Cup began during the 1993-94 academic year, and Stanford has been the winner every year except the first (when North Carolina won it and the Cardinal was second).
Notre Dame’s highest placement ever was sixth in 2005-06, the only time it ever finished in the top 10, although it has been 11th a few times.
The Cup is divided into three segments: 1) The fall season, which ends with the BCS Championship in football, 2), the winter season, which concludes with the Frozen Four in hockey plus swimming and diving, and 3) the spring season, capped by the College World Series in the second half of June.
Notre Dame finished fourth in the fall standings with 353 points, behind Stanford (398), Michigan (373) and Florida State (358.50). Its highest point total was in football (85) when the Fighting Irish finished third in the final BCS poll (Alabama had the maximum 100 points for winning the national title, while Oregon received 90 points for second place).
The Irish also picked up points for NCAA Tournament advancement or participation in women’s soccer (73), men’s soccer (64), women’s cross country (60), men’s cross country (46) and women’s volleyball (25).
With the winter sports completed, Notre Dame remained in the overall Directors’ Cup top five. Michigan took over the top spot by winning national titles in men’s swimming and men’s gymnastics, and it also was the runner-up in men’s basketball.
The Wolverines’ 914.25 points are followed by Stanford (902.75), Penn State (857), Florida (748.50) and Notre Dame (743). The Fighting Irish picked up 390 points from winter championships in the following sports:
• Fencing 90 points — second
• Women’s basketball 83 points — third (advancing to the Final Four)
• Women’s swimming & diving 58.5 points — 16th
• Men’s indoor track & field 38.5 points — 32nd
• Women’s indoor track & field 37 points — 35th
• Men’s swimming & diving 33 points — 33rd
• Men’s hockey 25 points — ninth (lost in first round of 16-team NCAA Tournament)
• Men’s basketball 25 points — 33rd (lost in first-round of 68-team NCAA Tournament)
The warm-weather spring sports are the time when schools in the SEC, ACC and Pac-12 gain a lot of ground. However, Notre Dame already has won Big East titles in both men’s and women’s tennis, plus women’s golf, assuring it of NCAA Tournament action. It also has ranked among the top 10 in both men’s and women’s lacrosse, including No. 1 on the men’s side.
Prior to the Directors’ Cup, the football and men’s basketball programs pretty much defined the success of the athletic department. Consequently, two of the most hallowed years in athletics at the school were 1973-74 and 1977-78.
In 1973-74, the football team finished 11-0 and won the national title, while the 24-2 basketball team entered the NCAA Tournament ranked No. 2 before getting upset in the second round by Michigan.
In 1977-78, the 11-1 football team won the national title again while the men’s basketball team advanced to the Final Four for the first and still only time in its history. That year, fencing also captured its second national title.
The 1943-44 school year was the only one in which Notre Dame won three national titles: football, tennis and golf.