UW-Whitewater athletics rank fifth
WHITEWATER UW-Whitewater is moving closer to a long-range goal of winning the Division III Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup for athletic excellence.
For the first time ever, Whitewater placed in the top five. The National Association of Collegiate Directors announced the 2011-2012 rankings Thursday. The Warhawks finished fifth out of 450 NCAA Division III teams in the country.
Whitewater broke into the top five based on national championships in football and basketball, but six other sports scored points by finishing in the top 12 in national competition.
In addition to football and men’s basketball, top-12 results were turned in by men’s indoor track, wrestling, women’s soccer, baseball, women’s tennis and men’s outdoor track, Also scoring points were women’s volleyball, men’s soccer, women’s basketball, women’s indoor track and field, and men’s tennis.
Whitewater joined UW-Stevens Point as the only WIAC schools to ever finish in the top five in the Cup standings. The Pointers finished 31st this season.
In the 2012 standings, Whitewater is the only public school. Middlebury of Vermont sits atop the Cup standings followed by Washington of Missouri, and Williams and Amherst, both in Massachusetts.
“This is a tribute not only to athletic success at Whitewater, but to the entire campus,” said UW-Whitewater Athletic Director Paul Plinske. “We are demonstrating that we have a great school, great students and great athletes.”
The top-five standing elevates Whitewater above its WIAC competitors and other peer institutions such as Mount Union, Carthage and Illinois Wesleyan, Plinske said.
“When former Chancellor Jack Miller set the goal of winning the Cup, we were shooting for a top 15,” Plinske said. “We have achieved that ever since. Then we were looking for a top five.
“Now that we have seen that, we are, of course, shooting for the top spot,” he said. “I have to say, the margins are very small when you get to this level.”
The Cup rules allow schools to count their 18 best team results. Whitewater has just 20 eligible teams, making it more difficult to score points, Plinske said.
Whitewater teams scored three other national championships in women’s gymnastics, women’s wheelchair basketball and men’s wheelchair basketball, but those sports don’t score points in the Cup standings.
“We can say we have the best athletic Division III program in the Upper Midwest based on the Cup standings, and now we are competing at the top national level,” Plinske said. “We are all extremely excited about today’s news and what it means for our campus, students and athletes.”
Plinske did not have an opportunity to celebrate with one of the athletic department’s most enthusiastic supporters, Chancellor Richard Telfer.
“The chancellor is at the Board of Regents meeting today, so I have not had a chance to talk with him, but I know he’ll be pleased and excited about the news as we are,” Plinske said.
The Directors’ Cup honors athletic success in men’s and women’s college sports in the United States. Championships are awarded in the three NCAA divisions and the NAIA.
Other Wisconsin schools
in the top 30 and their Directors’ Cup rankings are UW-Eau Claire (15), UW-Oshkosh (17), UW-La Crosse (28) and Carthage (30).