Championships had been decided since the dawn of collegiate sports, but, until 1993, championships had not been awarded to athletic departments as a whole.
That changed with the advent of the Directors’ Cup, created to reward the breadth and depth of a school’s athletic program rather than to provide recognition for a specific sport or two.
Finally, Stanford’s overall excellence was given an avenue to be properly honored, and the Cardinal has continued to prove itself while winning an ongoing streak of 19 consecutive Directors’ Cups. Each year provides unique challenges and new heroes, and opportunities to see the winning ace in a championship tennis match in the same light as the walk-off homer or game-winning touchdown.
Stanford’s rosters of student-athletes continuously change, but the standards remain the same and the levels have not faltered. Stanford aspires to a 20th consecutive Directors' Cup and is once again a contender as another competitive year draws to a close.
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, beginning with the first, in 1994-95:
Directors' Cup No. 1 (1994-95) | 1994-95 Season In Photos
It seems hard to believe, given Stanford’s string of success, that the Directors’ Cup did not begin well for the Cardinal, relatively speaking. Stanford finished second to North Carolina during the award’s inaugural year in 1993-94 and was again second, this time to Penn State, after the ensuing fall season.
However, Stanford put together one of its most successful athletics years ever in 1994-95, winning five NCAA team titles. Thirteen Stanford teams finished among the nation’s top five and 21 finished in the top 10. Only twice before had a school won five titles in one academic year, and one was Stanford, in 1991-92. The Cardinal also won a school-record 14 conference titles.
Stanford won the Directors’ Cup in dominant fashion, scoring 971.5 points, more than 180 ahead of runner-up North Carolina. And Stanford has kept the going momentum ever since.
The marquee title for the Cardinal came from women’s volleyball. A team that featured Volleyball Magazine Player of the Year Cary Wendell and Lisa Sharpley as the dual-threat setters in the team’s 6-2 offense, went 32-1 and lost only 11 games all season. With freshman Kristin Folkl providing the power, Stanford won its second national title in three years.
Stanford also won NCAA titles men’s water polo, women’s swimming and diving, men’s gymnastics, and men’s tennis.
Wolf Wigo was limited by chronic back pain the previous two seasons, but was at his best in leading men’s water polo to a 27-1 record and second consecutive NCAA title. Wigo, the 1994 NCAA/AWPCA Player of the Year, scored 203 career goals and was named All-America in each of his four seasons. Wigo would become a three-time Olympian and the U.S. national team captain from 2001-04.
Jenny Thompson was in the midst of a Stanford swimming career that earned her 19 NCAA championships and 26 All-America honors. Thompson, who set a world record in the 100-meter freestyle at the 1992 Olympic trials, won NCAA 100-yard free titles all four years and was named 1994-95 NCAA Female Athlete of the Year.
The Stanford men’s tennis team was one of the most dominant in Dick Gould’s 38-year coaching career on The Farm. Stanford captured its 13th team title under Gould by going 27-0 and sweeping Mississippi, 4-0, in the NCAA team final. During the NCAA tournament, Stanford outscored opponents 16-2 during its four-match run.
More highlights from 1994-95:
· The men’s gymnastics team, behind a vault title by Ian Bachrach, won its third NCAA championship under Sadao Yamada.
· The women’s basketball team went 30-3 and advanced to the Final Four.
· Steve Stenstrom completed his career as Stanford’s all-time passing leader, with 10,531 yards.
· Freshman Tiger Woods placed fifth in NCAA men’s golf, but couldn’t prevent the Cardinal from losing a one-hole playoff to Oklahoma State for the team title.
· Freshman Kyle Peterson set a school record with 14 pitching victories and led the Cardinal out of the regional losers’ bracket and into the College World Series.
· The men’s basketball team won its first NCAA tournament game in 53 years, beating UNC Charlotte, 70-68.
The Final Count:
1) Stanford, 971.5
2) North Carolina, 789.5
3) UCLA, 736.5
4) Arizona, 716.5
5) Florida, 691.0
Stanford’s Top Scoring Teams:
1, Women’s swimming and diving, men’s tennis, women’s volleyball, men’s water polo, 64 points each; 5, Men’s golf, men’s swimming and diving, 63 points each.