Stanford Leads Pack of Multisport Universities

The near sole preserve of Stanford, at least for the time being. (Photo: United States Sports Academy)
It’s probably [not news to anyone]( that Stanford, well, dominates athletically, having won the Director’s Cup for 16 straight years (having won it every time but one, when it lost to UNC-Chapel Hill, a very worthy opponent), by very comfortable margins (in 2010, Stanford beat number two University of Florida by a [larger point margin than separates numbers 2-4]( that’s the equivalent of Stanford winning by [about two]( [BCS bowl championships]( However, [other schools are now trying]( to improve their performance in the non-revenue sports that Stanford consistently dominates, ranging from swimming to water polo to volleyball. (Interesting side note: though most people consider football and basketball the key revenue sports, a mere 14 of the 120 bowl-eligible football teams turn a profit, something I noted in [a previous post]( Why are they doing it?

For glory, perhaps, but bonus clauses in the contracts of athletics directors don’t hurt. The new challengers have a long way to go, and not just in developing individual athletes. Stanford’s streak of dominating Cup performances isn’t just a result of the incredible prowess of Stanford athletes (though obviously that’s a core part): it’s also a function of Stanford’s investment in a broad spectrum of teams. Stanford fields 35 varsity squads, a full two-thirds more than even runner-up Florida. Indeed, Stanford fields every squad recognized by the Director’s Cup, with the exception of men’s and women’s rifle and skiing, men’s and women’s hockey, men’s lacrosse, and women’s bowling. With the exception of lacrosse and bowling, Stanford’s environment isn’t terribly suited for those sports (although maybe I should try telling that to the Stanford Ski Team), so it seems safe to say that Stanford has nearly maxed out its athletic opportunities. Since scoring is based on the performance of the best 10 teams of each school, Stanford’s ability to sample from a larger population of high-achieving teams means that it can stack its entry with NCAA Champions as well as a healthy group of runners-up and other top performers.

It remains to be seen if increased attention from other schools will trouble Stanford’s dominance. My bet is no, at least in the conceivable future, and if I have faith in anything, it’s in Stanford’s refusal to become complacent. We’ll see continued improvement from Stanford’s squads and a refusal to step down for many years to come.

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