The Fighting Illini had lots of success in the first year under new AD Mike Thomas.
June 28, 2012
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- 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 University of Illinois student-athletes, coaches and the entire Division of Intercollegiate Athletics should be very proud of our finish in the Learfield Sports Director's Cup standings, as we once again finished in the Top 25," Director of Athletics Mike Thomas said. "Our goal will always be to compete for the top position and I feel good about the direction we are headed."
Illinois received 279.5 points during the spring sports season to improve its yearly total to 782.25 points, but dropped from 15th place after the conclusion of the winter sports seasons. Men's tennis provided the biggest boost in the spring, earning 64 points with a Sweet 16 berth, which counts as a tie for ninth place. The Orange and Blue also received considerable production from men's track & field (11th place, 63 points) and men's golf (21st place, 53 points). Women's track & field contributed 43 points with its 30th place finish, while women's golf (31.5 points) and women's tennis (25 points) rounded out the spring scoring.
Illinois' 2011-12 athletics season was highlighted by a men's gymnastics national championship, a national runner-up finish by volleyball and six individual national titles - C.J. Maestas (men's gymnastics - rings), Thomas Pieters (men's golf), Andrew Riley (men's track - 100m & 110m hurdles), Paul Ruggeri (men's gymnastics - vault) and Ashley Spencer (women's track - 400m).
The Illini also got Directors' Cup top-20 finishes from wrestling (7th), men's tennis (9th), men's track & field (11th), soccer (17th) and women's gymnastics (18th). Four Illinois teams won Big Ten Championships, as men's gymnastics and men's golf both won their fourth-consecutive conference titles, men's tennis won its first since 2005 and women's soccer won its second-ever Big Ten Tournament title.
For the second-straight year, the Fighting Illini ranked fourth among Big Ten schools. The top conference school in the 2011-12 standings is Ohio State (fourth), followed by Michigan (10th) and Penn State (12th). Nationally, Stanford (1,448.25) took home its 18th-straight Directors' Cup title, out pacing second-place Florida (1,314.0) by 134.25 points.
The Learfield Sports Directors' Cup honors institutions that maintain a broad-based athletics program, achieving success across men's and women's sports programs. Each institution is awarded points based on the national finish of its programs, while the school with the highest annual points total earns a crystal trophy in recognition of its success.
The Directors' Cup was developed in 1993-94 as a joint effort between the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and USA Today. Points are awarded based on each institution's finish in up to 20 sports -- 10 women's and 10 men's.
Illinois Directors' Cup History
1993-94: 57th (237.0 points)
1994-95: 57th (223.0 points)
1995-96: 58th (209.0 points)
1996-97: 46th (270.5 points)
1997-98: 31st (280.0 points)
1998-99: 36th (240.0 points)
1999-00: 31st (466.0 points)
2000-01: 45th (396.0 points)
2001-02: 30th (600.0 points)
2002-03: 30th (537.0 points)
2003-04: 25th (597.0 points)
2004-05: 36th (505.0 points)
2005-06: 40th (460.25 points)
2006-07: 42nd (495.0 points)
2007-08: 34th (586.75 points)
2008-09: 20th (808.75 points)
2009-10: 35th (614.8 points)
2010-11: 23rd (731.5 points)
2011-12: 21st (782.25 points)