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Directors' Cup Rewind: 1996-97
Courtesy: David Kiefer  
Release: 05/24/2014

Heading toward the determination of the winner of the 2013-14 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup, gostanford.com will provide a progression of each of Stanford’s 19 consecutive victories. Here is the second, in 1996-97:

Directors' Cup No. 3 (1996-97)  |  1996-97 Season In Photos

WITH APOLOGIES TO LeBron James, in 1996-97 Stanford won “not one, not two, not three, not four, not five,” but six NCAA team championships in perhaps its greatest year of an ongoing golden era of Cardinal athletics.

A third consecutive Directors’ Cup was long a done deal as Stanford captured its first titles in men’s and women’s cross country, its 16th in men’s tennis, 10th in women’s tennis, fourth in women’s volleyball, and first in men’s volleyball. Only three times in history had a school won as many as five titles in one academic year, and two of those were by Stanford.

Twenty Stanford teams finished among the nation’s top 10, and 15 were in the top five. Also, 16 Cardinal teams won conference titles.

In Stanford men’s volleyball lore, match point of the Cardinal’s first national championship is known simply as “The Block.” To finish off a 15-7, 15-10, 9-15, 6-15, 15-13 victory over rival UCLA in the NCAA final, Mike Hoefer brought the wall to a Bruins’ attempt to sideout and extend the match, and delivered the title to Stanford.

Inaugural championships were the theme for Stanford, which can trace its emergence as a distance running mecca to Nov. 25, 1996, in Tucson, Ariz. That’s when Stanford swept both the men’s and women’s races at the NCAA cross country championships under third-year coach Vin Lananna, who built a tradition of distance-running excellence that continues today under Franklin P. Johnson Director of Track and Field Chris Miltenberg.

Stanford used its depth to win, placing five runners among the top 15 in the men’s field, led by top American-born finisher Greg Jimmerson in fourth. The women had no one in the top nine, but Stanford’s Nos. 4 and 5 runners, Leila Burr and Sarah Moore, did just enough to allow the Cardinal to edge Villanova. Those would become the first of nine NCAA cross country titles for the Cardinal.

Stanford has traditionally embraced the two-sport athlete and Chad Hutchinson brought that to another level when he became the first in school history to start at quarterback in a bowl game and as a pitcher in the College World Series. Hutchinson was the Offensive MVP in leading the Cardinal to a 38-0 Sun Bowl triumph over Michigan State in the most lopsided bowl victory in school history.

Kate Starbird scored a school record 753 points, averaged 20.9 points, and reached 40 in a game for the second consecutive season on her way to earning the Naismith Award as the nation’s best women’s basketball player. In Starbird’s four seasons, Stanford went 118-14 and advanced to the Final Four three times.

* * *

More highlights from 1996-97:
•    Brevin Knight led Stanford to its first Sweet Sixteen appearance in men’s basketball since the 1941-42 season. The Cardinal beat Oklahoma and Wake Forest before losing to Utah.
•    Freshman Lilia Osterloh won the NCAA women’s tennis singles crown by dispatching Florida’s M.C. White in only 50 minutes.
•    Freshman Kerri Walsh was named NCAA Final Four MVP after leading Stanford to the NCAA women’s volleyball championship.
•    Kyle Peterson joined former star Jack McDowell as the only pitchers in school history to post three consecutive 10-win seasons.
•    Stanford teams won 26 NCAA team titles during a six-year period from 1991-92 to 1996-97.

The Final Count:
Stanford, 1,084.5
North Carolina, 804
UCLA, 802
Nebraska,780.5
Florida, 763

Stanford’s Top Scoring Teams:
1 (tie), Men’s cross country, women’s cross country, women’s volleyball, women’s tennis, men’s tennis, men’s volleyball, each 64 points.

Previous Columns:

  • Directors' Cup No. 2: 1995-96

 


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