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.