FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A national championship runner-up finish at the 2018 College World Series helped cap a remarkable year of athletics success for the University of Arkansas and propelled the Razorbacks to a program record No. 16 finish in the final 2017-18 Learfield Sports Directors Cup Standings. Arkansas once again earned a spot among the nation’s top intercollegiate athletics programs, finishing with 870.5 points in the rankings released on Saturday by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of America (NACDA).
Arkansas finished in the top 25 for the ninth time in the past 11 years and in the top 20 for only the seventh time since the Directors’ Cup program began 25 years ago. The Directors’ Cup tracks the nation’s most successful intercollegiate athletics programs for their on-field performances throughout the year.
The No. 16 national finish tied a program record for a combined University of Arkansas intercollegiate athletics program. A total of 14 Razorback sports scored in this year’s competition resulting in the second-best Directors’ Cup point total (870.5) in school history. Arkansas scored a school record 912.5 points in finishing No. 16 in 2014-15.
Arkansas finished first in the nation in the rankings among schools with 19 or fewer sports. In fact, only two schools with 19 or fewer sports earned a top 25 finish (Oregon 24th). In the Directors’ Cup, schools may count points in up to 19 sport programs, four of which must be men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and baseball, allowing programs with additional sports to count only the best team performances.
“Thanks to the outstanding efforts of our student-athletes, coaches and staff, the University of Arkansas has reaffirmed its position among the most successful intercollegiate athletics programs in the nation,” Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Hunter Yurachek said. “As the nation’s top scoring program among those with 19 or fewer sports, Arkansas has proven that it can achieve success at an elite level, while competing against other schools that feature more than 20 or 30 varsity sports. This tremendous success would not be possible without the loyal support of our Razorback Foundation members, season ticket holders and the most passionate fan base in the country. Even as we celebrate what was a phenomenal year, we have already turned our focus to the opportunities ahead and the commitment it will require to accomplish our vision – to be the best.”
Arkansas made a historic run at the 2018 College World Series (CWS) advancing undefeated through bracket play to the finals before finishing as the national championship runner-up. The Razorbacks won the first game of the CWS finals before falling to Oregon State in games two and three. Arkansas’ national runner-up finish matched a program-best finish with the Hogs also finishing second in 1979. Arkansas finished the season at 48-21, including capturing NCAA Fayetteville Regional and Super Regional titles on the way to its ninth CWS appearance. Head coach Dave Van Horn and the Razorbacks turned in a remarkable season and helped earn the Razorback program earn 90 Directors’ Cup points.
On the strength of the program’s first-ever NCAA Super Regional appearance, the Razorback softball team contributed 64 points to the Directors’ Cup standings. Arkansas’ softball postseason also included a run to the SEC Tournament semifinals and the program’s first-ever hosting duties for the NCAA Regionals having earned the No. 13 national seed. The Razorbacks’ finished the year with a 42-17 overall record and a 12-12 mark in SEC play. The team’s 42 wins are the third most by an Arkansas team since the 2000.
The Razorbacks picked up 65.25 points in women’s outdoor track and field after Arkansas finished 11th at the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Led by NCAA individual event runners-up Nikki Hiltz (1,500 meters) and Lexi Jacobus (pole vault), the Razorbacks earned 20 points to finish just outside the top 10 at the national meet. Arkansas student-athletes earned nine first or second team All-America honors.
Arkansas earned 63.75 points for its performance in men’s outdoor track and field. The Razorbacks finished 12th in the team standings at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Arkansas earned a total of 16 first or second team All-America honors at the national meet held in Eugene, Ore., including four such honors for Kenzo Cotton.
The 2017-18 season was a record-setting year for the Razorback women’s golf team. Head coach Shauna Taylor and her team won the program’s first Southeastern Conference and NCAA Regional titles while breaking school records in nearly every category. Junior Maria Fassi added to her trophy case with six individual victories and a tie for first place in stroke play at the SEC Championship. Fassi became the program’s first NCAA Regional medalist and helped Arkansas to a 10th-place national finish and 67.5 Directors’ Cup points.
The Razorback men’s golf team returned to the NCAA Championship for the sixth time under head coach Brad McMakin. Arkansas used third-round heroics in its final three events to keep the season alive. The excitement began in the third round of stroke play at the SEC Championship where the Razorbacks moved up six spots to advance to match play. In similar fashion, Arkansas moved up six spots on the last day of the NCAA Regional to move on to the NCAA Championship. In danger of missing the first cut in Stillwater, Arkansas again rallied with a low number to move on to the final day of stroke play. For its performance at the NCAA Championship, the men’s golf program netted 64.5 points.
For the first time since 2013, the Razorback gymnastics team earned a trip to the NCAA Championships and recorded a top-10 national finish. Four Razorback gymnasts earned second-team All-America accolades including senior Amanda Wellick on the bars and in the All-Around competition, senior Braie Speed in the vault and sophomore Hailey Garner on the beam. Arkansas earned 68.25 points for its top-10 national finish under the guidance of SEC Coach of the Year Mark Cook.
Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson led the Razorbacks back to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament for the second-consecutive season and the third time in the past four seasons, recording a 23-12 record. Arkansas won eight of its last 12 games, including advancing to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament. The Razorbacks earned a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament. For its finish, Arkansas earned 25 Directors’ Cup points.
Fresh off capturing its 12th consecutive conference crown at the SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships, the Arkansas women’s track and field team recorded a runner-up finish at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in College Station, Texas. The Razorbacks featured three individual national champions, Taliyah Brooks (pentathlon), Payton Chadwick (60-meter hurdles) and Lexi Jacobus (pole vault). Arkansas earned 90 points for its second-place finish at the NCAA Championships.
Arkansas men’s indoor track and field team earned 62.25 points for a 13th-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. The Razorbacks garnered three top-five event finishes including Cameron Griffith (3rd) in the 3,000 meters, the Hogs’ 4-x-400-meter relay team (4th) and Gabe Moore (5th) in the heptathlon.
The Razorbacks racked up 47 points for its 27th-place finish in women’s swimming and diving thanks in large part to a freshman national champion. Brooke Schultz capped her first NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships with a NCAA individual crown in the three-meter diving competition. It was only the third individual national diving title in school history, including the first since 1985.
A fourth NCAA Tournament berth in five seasons, netted 25 Directors’ Cup points for the Razorback soccer team. With 11 wins in 2017, Arkansas eclipsed the 10-win total for the third time in the last four years after its amazing run through the SEC Tournament, which included a tournament final berth for the second-straight year. Arkansas was the lowest-seeded team to ever make it to the conference tournament’s final match, taking out the likes of Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, and top-seeded South Carolina along the way.
After both the Arkansas men’s and women’s teams won the SEC Cross Country Championship in October for the fifth consecutive year, the two squads earned top-15 finishes at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 18.
Ascending from its 15th-place national ranking prior to the race, the men’s cross country team battled to its second-consecutive top-five finish at the NCAA Cross Country meet. Seniors Jack Bruce, Austen Dalquist and Alex George finished 13th, 43rd and 51st respectively to lead the Razorbacks. Bruce’s 13th-place finish garnered All-America honors for the third-consecutive year while leading Arkansas to a top-five finish. Arkansas earned 75 points for its fifth-place finish and now has ranked in the top-10 nationally in five of the past eight seasons.
The Arkansas women’s cross country team raced to a 13th-place finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championship to earn 63 points. The Razorbacks were led by sophomore Carina Viljoen, who finished 48th in her first national race. Dating back to its 14th-place finish at the 2011 Championships, the Razorbacks have finished in the top-20 seven-consecutive years, including three top-15 finishes in the past four years.
Razorback Athletics is one of approximately 20 financially self-sustaining athletics programs in the nation and does not receive state funding or a student fee. Razorback Athletics contributes more than $3.5 million a year to the institution to support academic programs and other initiatives benefitting University of Arkansas students.