True Measure of College Athletic Dept. Success
After watching “my” Gators last night and then talking to people today it seems that winning another National Championship has created the perception that Florida has the “best” athletic program in the country. I am not one to argue with that because I think it might be an accurate statement. But, by what measurement can we declare “the best”?
To the general public, it seems that football and men’s basketball success are the markers of a good athletic department. But, can you have it all? Football and basketball success, a great experience for student-athletes, a lot of sport participation opportunities, and quality programs for all student-athletes?
According to the NACDA website, The Directors’ Cup is presented annually to the best overall collegiate athletics programs in the country in Division I, II, III, and NAIA. In the Dec 24th, 2008 NACDA Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup Standings Florida was 20th. Of course that is before football and there is still a long season in front of the Gators. But, in 2007-08, Stanford won for the 14th straight year. The Directors’ Cup rankings take into account national place finish in a variety of sports, so the lack of a year in and year out powerhouse football team certainly has not hurt Stanford. Should the best program be required to be good in a lot of sports?
Sports Illustrated used a different method to proclaim who had the best overall athletic program and Arizona State was crowned the 2007-08 champ with Stanford in 2nd place. Florida tied for 7th with USC. The SI scoring system put emphasis on ” national titles, top 30 finishes and conference championships” in 22 selected sports according to the website. So, are those the only criteria for success?
Jeremy Foley, the Florida Director of Athletics, was the Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal National Athletic Director of the Year in 2006. Should the quality of the Athletic Director play into a “best” ranking? Mr. Foley earned his Master’s Degree in Sports Administration from Ohio University in 1976, so most of us at Ohio think he walks on water. But, then again every year it looks like he just might.
What about the experience of the student-athlete. I think that this component is directly tied to the quality of administrators who create the student-athlete experience. Wouldn’t it be great to figure out a system that took into account a variety of components to truly establish which program is the “best”. Until then, I consider Florida the best, but I suppose everyone is entitled to his/her opinion on this one.