Virginia’s fifth-place finish in the NCAA Rowing Championships helped the Cavaliers to a 21st-place finish in the final 2017-18 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup competition, announced Saturday (June 30) by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA).
Virginia placed in the top 25 for the 12th consecutive year and is one of 12 schools to rank in the top 30 of the final Directors’ Cup standings in the 25-year existence of the program.
Points in the Director’s Cup standings are awarded by a school’s NCAA postseason finish in 19 sports, four of which must be men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and volleyball.
“Finishing in the top 25 of the Director’s Cup for the 12th consecutive year is a testament to Craig Littlepage, our coaches, staff and student-athletes,” Virginia Director of Athletics Carla Williams said. “This type of accomplishment requires a lot of people pulling in the same direction and we’re looking forward to continuing this incredible legacy.”
In addition to rowing’s fifth-place finish, 22 other UVA teams – or programs with individuals representing their teams – appeared in postseason competition. Women’s swimming and diving finished ninth at the NCAA Championships, men’s cross country finished 16th and women’s golf finished 22nd. Field hockey participated in the NCAA Sweet 16, while women’s soccer, women’s lacrosse, men’s tennis and women’s tennis each advanced to the NCAA second round.
UVA captured three Atlantic Coast Conference championships and its 79 conference titles since the spring of 2002 are the most of any ACC school during that time. In 2017-18, UVA won ACC championships in men’s basketball (third in program history), women’s swimming and diving (10th in last 11 years) and rowing (ninth consecutive and 18th in 19 years).
Individually, field hockey senior midfielder Tara Vittese was named the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Division I National Player of the Year, becoming the association’s first three-time National Player of the Year. Football linebacker Micah Kiser won the National Football Foundation’s 2017 William V. Campbell Trophy, presented to the nation’s best football scholar-athlete, from a nationwide pool that included all NCAA divisions and the NAIA.
Additional highlights of Virginia’s 2017-18 athletics year included:
• Carla Williams was named director of athletics in October. She became the first female African-American athletic director at a Power Five conference level and the fifth active female athletics director at that level. She replaced Craig Littlepage who retired after serving in the position for 16 years.
• Men’s basketball won the regular-season and ACC tourney titles while posting a school best 31-3 record. The team collected its first No. 1 ranking since 1982. Head coach Tony Bennett earned consensus NCAA Division I Coach of the Year honors.
• Thomas Walsh won the ACC Men’s Golf Individual Championship. He shot the lowest score in the 65-year history of the tournament.
• The Virginia football program played in the Military Bowl, its first post-season appearance since 2011.
• Men’s soccer participated in the NCAA tournament for the 37th consecutive season, the longest current streak in NCAA history.
• Women’s soccer advanced to the post season for the 20th straight season, the third-longest active streak in the NCAA.
• The UVA men’s lacrosse team returned to NCAA tournament play for the first time since 2015, the 38th postseason appearance for the program.
• Women’s lacrosse earned its 23rd consecutive NCAA Championship bid.
• Virginia field teams in men’s and women’s squash for the first time. The UVA men finished sixth at the Collegiate Squash Association national championships in the B-Division (Hoehn Cup) while the Cavalier women were fifth in the B-Division (Kurtz Cup).
• Seven UVA sports programs were recognized by the NCAA with Public Recognition for academic excellence after scoring in the top 10 percent of their sport’s Academic Progress Rates. Men’s cross country, men’s track and field and men’s golf team, along with the women’s basketball, women’s golf, women’s track and field and volleyball teams earned the recognition based on their most recent multi-year APRs, which include the 2013-17 academic years. That total was the second most by UVA since the program’s inception in 2004-05.
• Davenport Field underwent a $18 million renovation and was reopened as Davenport Field at Disharoon Park.
• Carrie Heilman was named UVA’s new Faculty Athletics Representative.
• Tina Thompson was named UVA’s new women’s basketball coach. A 2018 inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, she retired from the WNBA as the all-time leading scorer in the league’s history. She is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, a four-time WNBA champion and was the first player drafted in the history of the WNBA.