FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.– Arkansas has once again finished among the elite intercollegiate athletics programs in the nation. The Razorbacks earned a 23rd-place finish in the 2015-16 Learfield Directors’ Cup final standings, a program that tracks the nation’s most successful intercollegiate athletics programs for their performances throughout the year.
A program may score points in up to 20 different sport programs in the Directors’ Cup. Of the top-25 finishers, 21 programs include 20 or more sports. Arkansas sponsors 19 varsity sports and ranks third among schools with 19 sports or fewer. The Razorbacks were one of five SEC programs ranked in the top 25 of the final standings.
Arkansas tallied 820 points and finished in the top 30 of the Directors’ Cup for the eighth time in the past nine years. The Razorbacks’ also earned a top-25 finish in the final ranks for the sixth time since the previously independent men’s and women’s athletics programs were combined in 2008. Razorback Athletics is one of less than 25 financially self-sustaining athletics programs in the nation and does not receive state funding or a student fee. Razorback Athletics contributes more than $3 million a year to the institution to support academic programs and other initiatives benefitting University of Arkansas students.
“Congratulations to our coaches, our staff and most importantly our more than 460 student-athletes for helping the University of Arkansas earn national recognition as one the best all-around intercollegiate athletics programs in the nation,” Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long said. “Since 2008, we have consistently ranked among the most successful programs in the country even while competing with some programs featuring more than 30 sports. That success speaks to the breadth of our program, the quality of our coaches and student-athletes, and the tremendous financial support we receive from Razorback Foundation members and our fans. It is my hope that others appreciate our success and recognize how a nationally competitive athletics program can be a valuable contributor, financially and through other means, to foster the continued growth and success of its institution.”
The 820 point performance marked the third best Directors’ Cup point total in school history. A strong spring season vaulted Arkansas back into the top 25. Razorback spring sports combined for 393.25 points adding to the 187.5 and 239.2 points earned by Arkansas fall and winter sports, respectively. Arkansas earned 50 points or more from 10 its sports, including 100 points from the women’s outdoor track and field team for its NCAA title.
In addition to this year’s 23rd-place overall finish, the Razorbacks recorded Top-30 finishes in 2007-08 (24th), 2008-09 (25th), 2010-11 (24th), 2011-12 (20th), 2012-13 (21st), 2013-14 (28th) and 2014-15 (16th).
Arkansas added a new chapter to its rich track and field history last month when it captured its first women’s outdoor track and field national championship. Coach Lance Harter’s squad earned its second national championship in as many years, after winning the 2015 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championship. Senior Dominique Scott-Efurd concluded her extraordinary Razorback career by winning both the 5K and 10K. Freshman Lexi Weeks completed an NCAA pole vault sweep, capturing the outdoor title after winning the indoor title last March. The national championship netted Arkansas 100 points in the Directors’ Cup standings.
The Razorbacks also scored big earning 90 points for their men’s track and field national runner-up finish. Led by an epic 31.5 point individual performance by Jarrion Lawson, Arkansas finished second overall in the team competition trailing national champion, Florida, by only six points. Lawson did something at the NCAA meet that hadn’t been done in 80 years. The senior won three individual events (100-meter dash, 200-meter dash and long jump) at an NCAA Outdoor Championship becoming the first to do so since track and field legend Jesse Owens accomplished the feat in 1935 and 1936.
Both the Razorback men’s and women’s golf teams advanced through NCAA Regionals to earn berths in the NCAA Golf Championships in Eugene, Ore. Playing in its fifth NCAA championship tournament in the past eight years, the men’s team finished 12th overall in the field and tallied 64.5 points. The Razorback women’s team also challenged for a spot in the team match play competition before finishing tied for 12th in stroke play on the same golf course. Arkansas picked up 63.75 points in the Directors’ Cup standings for the women’s golf finish.
A return to the NCAA Tournament by the men’s tennis team also added 50 points to the Razorbacks’ ledger. Arkansas earned a tournament berth for the first time in a decade and won its first round match against Wichita State before falling to host Oklahoma State in the second round. The Razorback women’s team also earned a postseason berth in Stillwater, Okla. Arkansas lost its opening round match, but tallied 25 points for the NCAA appearance.
One of the most consistent performers in the Razorback program, the gymnastics program advanced to its 13th-consecutive NCAA Regional in 2016. Arkansas finished just short of qualifying for the NCAA Championship, but did earn 59.25 points for its NCAA regional finish.
The Razorback men’s track and field team earned 90 points with a second place finish at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Birmingham, Ala. The SEC champion Hogs racked up 39 points, including 10 points apiece from individual event national champions Lawson (long jump) and Clive Pullen (triple jump).
Arkansas’ women’s track and field team also made a late run to earn national championship runner-up honors and netted 90 points for the Directors’ Cup at the NCAA Indoors. The Razorbacks earned their second-highest finish at the national indoor meet and finished in the top three at the NCAA meet for the fourth time in program history. Weeks highlighted the meet by becoming the first freshman to win the NCAA women’s pole vault title. Arkansas finished with a total of 50 points, just three points shy of the national championship team total.
Arkansas earned a total of 187.5 points in the fall segment of the competition. The Hogs earned 45 points after capping the football season by winning its second-consecutive bowl game with a 45-23 victory over Kansas State in the 2016 AutoZone Liberty Bowl. The Razorbacks won for the sixth time in their last seven games, finishing the season with an 8-5 record.
After both the Arkansas men’s and women’s teams won the SEC Cross Country Championship in October, the two squads earned Top-10 finishes at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Louisville, Kentucky. The men’s cross country team capped its season with a sixth-place finish at the NCAA meet. Arkansas earned 73.5 points for the finish, placing it among the Top 10 nationally in three of the past six seasons. Arkansas women’s cross country raced to a ninth-place finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championship. This is the second-consecutive season the Razorbacks finished among the 10 best programs in the nation in women’s cross country.
The Directors’ Cup program has been tracking the success of the nation’s top intercollegiate athletics programs since 1993-94.