With 330 Division I schools in the U.S., picking the nation’s top athletic program is a daunting task. For nearly two decades, the Collegiate Directors of Athletics have done so, using components like a “64-team non-bracket point system” to determine the Directors’ Cup winner. (Stanford finished on top in ’07-08 for the 14th consecutive year). But critics argue that its formula is extremely complicated. Moreover, Stanford will likely continue to dominate for years to come.
In an effort to be a little less complicated, we came up with a different scoring system, a three-pronged formula that puts the emphasis on national titles, top 30 finishes and conference championships. The results are in and Arizona State is No. 1, based on its three national titles (softball and men’s and women’s indoor track and field) and 12 top 30 finishes. The Sun Devils are followed closely by Stanford and UCLA (see chart below), while North Carolina climbed from 14 in the Directors’ Cup to a tie for fourth in our standings, and Georgia moved up six spots.
Here’s how we came up with the rankings. In step one, we awarded 10 points to each national championship team for 22 sports (11 men’s — baseball, basketball, cross country, Division I-A football, golf, hockey, lacrosse, soccer, tennis, indoor track & field and volleyball — and 11 women’s — basketball, cross country, field hockey, golf, gymnastics, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, indoor track & field and volleyball). We made a conscious effort to balance sports with regional biases. So, for example, men’s lacrosse — a predominately East Coast sport — was countered with men’s volleyball.