The University of Illinois finished the 2011-12 season in 21st place in the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup standings, marking the program's third top-25 finish in the last four years and second-best finish in the 19-year history of the award. Illinois' best finish in the Directors' Cup came in 2008-09, when the Illini were 20th in the final rankings.
The Illinois men's gymnastics team won the 2012 NCAA Championship, marking the 10th title in program history and first since 1989. The squad produced two NCAA event champions, 11 All-America honors, three Big Ten individual titles, two All-Big Ten selections, the Big Ten Gymnast and Freshman of the Year and its fourth-ever Nissen-Emery Award winner. Head coach Justin Spring was named National Coach of the Year after notching his third straight Big Ten Coach of the Year honor.
The Illinois volleyball team began the 2011 season 20-0 en route to a national runner-up finish in the NCAA Tournament. The Illini held the number one ranking in the AVCA Coaches poll for the first time in school history and "Volleyball Magazine" tabbed Kevin Hambly as National Coach of the Year.
The first Big Ten Tournament title in seven years helped propel the Illinois men's tennis team to the nation's top 16, earning them the right to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament for the 13th time in the past 14 years. Senior Dennis Nevolo earned his second consecutive All-America honor and he and classmate Roy Kalmanovich both earned first-team All-Big Ten recognitions as well as bids to the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships.
Finishing 17-5-2 overall, the Illinois women's soccer team secured the second Big Ten Tournament Championship in program history in 2011 and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Vanessa DiBernardo was named NSCAA All-American (Second Team) and Big Ten Midfielder of the Year while Jenna Carosio was named NSCAA Academic All-American (Second Team) and Big Ten Defender of the Year.
The Illinois men's golf team continued its winning tradition during the 2011-12 season, adding another NCAA (sophomore Thomas Pieters) and Big Ten (senior Luke Guthrie) individual champion to the record books along with a fourth-consecutive Big Ten team title and fifth-straight trip to the NCAA Championships.
The 2011 Illinois football season ended on a high note as the Illini beat UCLA in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. The win gave the Illini bowl wins in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history. Defensive end Whitney Mercilus earned consensus first-team All-America honors and also won the Hendricks Award as the nation's top defensive end.
Five University of Illinois athletic teams earned the NCAA Public Recognition Award based on their most recent multi-year Academic Progress Rate (APR). Illini baseball, men's cross country, women's golf, women's gymnastics and soccer teams all earned the honor, which is bestowed to teams with APRs in the top 10 percent of their sport nationally for the four-year period ending with 2010-11.