MEDFORD - Led by 15 teams who earned NCAA berths during the year, the Jumbo varsity athletics program finished a best-ever fourth in the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup Division III standings for 2015-16.
The final point totals were released on Wednesday. This year's fourth improved upon the sixth-place finishes in 2005-06 and 2009-10 as the best by Tufts since the Directors' Cup began in 1995-96. This marks Tufts' fourth straight year in the top 10 and eighth overall.
“It’s very gratifying to learn in the span of two weeks that the Jumbos earned their first ever top five finish in the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup and also led the NESCAC with 140 spring All-Academic honorees,” Director of Athletics John Morris said. “This breadth of achievement, both academically and athletically, is what Tufts Athletics is all about. It’s a testament not only to the dedication and hard work of our talented coaches and student-athletes, but also to the tremendous support they receive from the university and our many loyal alumni, fans and friends.”
The Learfield Sports Directors' Cup was developed as a joint effort between the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and USA Today. Points are awarded based on each institution's NCAA finish in up to 18 sports - nine women's and nine men's. The NCAA's Division III includes more than 400 schools.
NCAA runner-up finishes by men's lacrosse in the spring and women's basketball in the winter led the Jumbos this year. Both teams earned 90 points for those efforts. Women's cross country had the highest total from the fall, placing seventh in the NCAA Championship Race for a 72 score.
Six winter teams in all competed in NCAA events to score 357 Directors' Cup points this year. In the spring, six Jumbo sports also qualified for NCAA's and combined for a 332.25 total. Three fall teams accumulated 193 points. The 882.25 Tufts total was behind only Williams (1098.25), Washington-St. Louis (1013), and Emory (969).
In the winter, head coach Carla Berube's women's basketball team advanced to the "Final Four" for the third straight season and took it one step further by playing in the national final. Men's basketball, led by head coach Bob Sheldon, was awarded 73 points for making it into the national quarterfinals. The men's swimming & diving team earned 12th place at the NCAA Championships - its best showing since 2006 - as head coach Adam Hoyt's squad added 64.5 points to the Directors' Cup total.
With men's indoor track & field's 21st-place effort at the NCAA Championships, first-year head coach Joel Williams' Jumbos scored 53 Directors' Cup points. Women's indoor track & field, guided by head coach Kristen Morwick, tied for 24th at NCAA's scoring 48.5 points. Hoyt's women's swimming & diving team added 28 points to the total.
Men's lacrosse, led by head coach Mike Daly, advanced to their third straight NCAA final and fifth overall in 2016 to lead the spring sports. Head coach John Casey's baseball team went further than any New England team in the NCAA's, with their Regional-final finish scoring 64. Women's Tennis, guided by head coach Kate Bayard, was also an NCAA Regional finalist scoring 64 Directors' Cup points. Men's outdoor track & field had their best-ever finish at the NCAA meet by tying for 15th, as Coach Williams' squad scored 59.25 spring points. Head coach Cheryl Milligan's softball team was an NCAA Regional finalist to score 50 points, while Morwick's women's outdoor track & field team added five points.
In addition to the seventh-place points scored by Morwick's women's cross country team (72 points) in the fall, the Jumbos received 64 points for head coach Josh Shapiro's men's soccer team moving into the NCAA third round. Men's cross country, led by interim head coach Michael Schmidt at the time, was 17th at Nationals scoring 57 Cup points.
The track & field scoring was led by senior Mitchell Black, who won NCAA 800 meters national championship indoors and outdoors for the second straight season.