FAYETTEVILLE, Arkansas — A record-setting athletics year, including to date one NCAA title and 10 Southeastern Conference regular season and tournament championships, has vaulted the University of Arkansas to a No. 9 ranking in the 2020-21 Learfield IMG College Directors’ Cup standings released on Thursday by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of America (NACDA).
The Directors’ Cup tracks the nation’s most successful intercollegiate athletics programs for their performances throughout the year. The rankings released on Thursday were the first standings published in 2020-21 and reflected fall and winter championship results. Arkansas was one of four SEC programs (Kentucky, Alabama and Florida) ranked in the top-10 in the standings released on Thursday. A total of seven SEC programs are ranked in the top 25 of the current standings.
Arkansas has earned 587.0 points through championships contested in the fall and winter. The final Directors’ Cup standings will be published on July 2 and will include additional Razorback finishes in baseball, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s outdoor track and field, softball, men’s and women’s tennis. Arkansas qualified for postseason play in 18 of its 19 sports this athletics year, with only volleyball missing postseason play, due to a reduced tournament field.
Even a global pandemic could not keep the Razorback women’s track and field team from defending its NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championship. Arkansas, the 2019 NCAA Indoor Champion, finally had an opportunity for a repeat and it took full advantage capturing the 2021 NCAA title at the Randal Tyson Track Center. The Razorbacks racked up 68 points, despite not recording an individual event or relay victory. It marked the first time in NCAA history that a women’s team won the national championship without winning at least one event. Arkansas earned 100 Directors’ Cup points for the NCAA title.
Arkansas earned another 71.25 points in the same event, with the Razorback men rallying for a seventh-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. The following week, the men’s cross country team tallied 80 points after a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Razorback women’s cross country team earned another 60 points with a top-10 finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championships.
Following a second-consecutive SEC regular season championship, the Razorback soccer team made a deep run into the NCAA Soccer Tournament, reaching the Sweet Sixteen for only the second time in school history. Coach Colby Hale and the Razorbacks fell to eventual national champion Santa Clara, earning 64 Directors’ Cup points.
Coach Eric Musselman led the Razorback men’s basketball team to a SEC runner-up finish and an historic run through the NCAA Tournament. Arkansas earned a No. 3 seed and advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in more than 25 years before falling to eventual national champion Baylor. Arkansas’ memorable season racked up 73 points for the Directors’ Cup standings.
Coach Mike Neighbors and the Razorback women’s basketball team recorded some of the biggest wins in school history knocking off No. 3 Baylor and No. 1 Connecticut at Bud Walton Arena during the 2020-21 season. The Razorbacks earned a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament, advancing to the Big Dance for the first time since 2015. Arkansas earned 25 points for its NCAA Tournament berth.
The Razorback gymnastics team added 66.75 points to the Directors’ Cup ledger after advancing to the NCAA Regional final in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Arkansas ranked among the nation’s best programs all season long and earned a berth into the night session of the SEC Gymnastics Championship for the first time in school history.
Arkansas carried the momentum from a program-best finish at the SEC Championships to a 27th place finish at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships. The Razorbacks earned 47 points for their championship efforts in the pool this season.
In 2018-19, Arkansas earned a No. 23 finish in the Directors’ Cup. A total of 13 Razorback sports scored in last year’s competition resulting in a top 25 finish for the fifth-consecutive year and the 10th time in the past 12 years. Arkansas finished first in the nation in the rankings among schools with 19 or fewer sports. In fact, Arkansas was the only school with 19 or fewer sports to earn a top 25 finish in the final Directors’ Cup standings.
Due to the pandemic and resulting abbreviated championship seasons, the Directors’ Cup standings were not awarded for the 2019-20 athletics seasons.
The Directors’ Cup program has been tracking the success of the nation’s top intercollegiate athletics programs since 1993-94. The University of Arkansas is on pace for its highest finish ever in the competition. Arkansas best finish to date was 14th following the 1998-99 athletics season.