Baylor Earns Highest Finish Ever In Directors' Cup Standings

June 29, 2005
News Photo 2748Photo by Clifford Cheney, Baylor University

With 12 of its 17 teams participating in NCAA postseason play, the Baylor University athletic program capped off its most-successful year ever, both academically and athletically, with its school-best 25th-place finish in the final 2004-05 Sports Academy Directors' Cup standings. Stanford won the award for the 11th consecutive year.

"I want to congratulate our coaches, staff and student-athletes on a year of truly special and unprecedented accomplishment," said Baylor Director of Athletics Ian McCaw. "When the entire spectrum of the department's performance is considered, 2004-05 will be regarded as the greatest year in the history of Baylor athletics."

Baylor, which bettered its previous best Directors' finish of 39th-place during the 1998-99 academic year, totaled 570.5 points to place fourth among Big 12 institutions in the national all-sports rankings behind national runner-up Texas, No. 21 Nebraska and No. 24 Oklahoma. After Baylor in the Directors' Cup standings were No. 26 Texas A&M, No. 41 Missouri, No. 44 Oklahoma State, No. 45 Colorado, No. 56 Texas Tech, No. 60 Iowa State, No. 61 Kansas and No. 77 Kansas State.

Just .75 of a point behind Oklahoma in the Directors' Cup, Baylor was the only Big 12 program and one of only six NCAA Division I-A institutions nationally to rank in both the top 10 of the most recent NCAA Graduation Rates report for overall student-athlete graduation success and the Directors' Cup top 25 joining Stanford, Duke, Virginia, Notre Dame and Penn State. Baylor's school-record graduation rate of 78 percent for all student-athletes ranked No. 10 among I-A institutions according to the NCAA report released last October.

"This success would not be possible without a commitment to excellence on the part of Baylor's Board of Regents and senior administration," McCaw said. "Moreover, we are grateful to our alumni and friends along with our generous athletic donors who provide the financial resources that have fueled these incredible achievements."

In 2004-05, Baylor athletics produced one national team champion, a national runner-up and a national third-place finisher among its record 12 postseason entries. In addition, three student-athletes claimed NCAA individual titles during the 2004-05 academic year and Baylor won a school-record six Big 12 titles (four regular-season and two tournament), one shy of Nebraska's season-best seven crowns.

The Baylor women's basketball team captured the school's second NCAA team championship in as many years with its 84-62 victory over Michigan State in the national title game after winning its first-ever Big 12 regular-season and tournament crowns. The Lady Bears finished the season with a school-record 33 victories (against three losses), ended the year on a school-record 20-game win streak and set program records for single-game attendance (10,550, an all-time record for men's or women's basketball at Ferrell Center) total home attendance (95,688) and per-game average (6,835).

Baylor's defending national championship men's tennis team dropped a heart-breaking 4-3 decision to UCLA in the 2005 title match at College Station, Texas, in a rematch of the 2004 NCAA final. The Bears, who captured the national ITA indoor championship for the first time in school history, swept the Big 12 regular-season and conference tournament titles for the fourth consecutive year en route to a school-record 33 victories. Benedikt Dorsch earned his second consecutive ITA national player of the year award and won his first NCAA singles title to give the program back-to-back national singles champions. The architect of Baylor's tennis success, coach Matt Knoll, was the ITA national coach of the year.

The baseball team advanced the College World Series for the first time since 1978 (and just the third time ever) and appeared in the national semifinals for the first time ever before being eliminated by eventual national champion Texas, a team Baylor beat four times during the regular season. The Bears, who shared the Big 12 regular-season title with Nebraska, went 46-24 overall and posted the school's highest final season ranking ever at No. 4 in the season-ending Baseball America top 25. Baylor's 46 victories rank as the second-best one-year total in school history and the program set a new Baylor Ballpark total attendance mark with 109,621 fans for 36 dates and its per-game average of 3,045 fans was just eight off the record set in 2003

Baylor's women's tennis team captured its first-ever outright Big 12 Conference title, advanced to the NCAA Tournament's Round of 16 for the second time in school history and won a school-record 24 matches. Freshman Zuzana Zemenova, an unseeded player, became the first female in school history to win the NCAA singles title. The 2005 Big 12 player and freshman of the year also earned her sports Honda Award as the nation's top female tennis player.

BU's third 2005 NCAA individual champion came from the Bears' track and field program, where 2004 Olympic gold medalist Darold Williamson ended his career with a gold medal in the 400-meter dash at the NCAA Championships. Williamson earned his sixth individual All-America honor and was an outdoor All-American all four years of his collegiate career. He was also the anchor on seven All-America 4x400-meter relay teams, giving him a total of 13 awards for his career, which tied Michael Johnson and Brandon Couts for third on Baylor's all-time list, trailing only Tony Miller (15) and Deon Minor (14).

"Our desire is that Baylor become a perennial top 25 national program that performs in the upper echelon of the Big 12," McCaw said. "Many of our teams have already reached this level while the remaining programs are making rapid progress."

Other highlights from Baylor's successful 2004-05 athletic year included:

• The Lady Bear softball team won a school-record 50 games and advanced to the NCAA Super Regional for the first time in school history. The squad broke nearly ever offensive record on the books and came within a game of making its first-ever trip to the College World Series.

• Baylor's football team beat 16th-ranked Texas A&M, 35-34, in overtime to end an 18-game series winless streak to its longtime Brazos River rivals. The program also produced its fourth national award winner ever in punter Daniel Sepulveda, who won the 2004 Ray Guy Award as the nation's top collegiate punter.

• The Baylor women's cross country squad advanced to the NCAA Championships for the second consecutive year.

• The women's track and field team matched its best Big 12 indoor finish ever with its third-place performance.

• With an eye toward the future, the Bears landed another top 10 recruiting class in men's basketball and guard Aaron Bruce captured first-team freshman All-America honors.

• The women's golf team advanced to NCAA Regional competition for the sixth consecutive season and matched the program's best finish ever at the Big 12 Championship with a third-place performance.

• The Bears' men's golf team earned its eighth straight NCAA Regional appearance as sophomore Jeremy Alcorn earned PING honorable mention All-America honors from the Golf Coaches Association of America.

• The BU women's soccer team knocked off a pair of nationally ranked opponents in No. 22 Texas (2-1 in overtime) and No. 22 Nebraska (4-3). It marked the first time the Lady Bears had beaten Texas since 1999.

• The Baylor volleyball team handed No. 24 Kansas a 3-1 setback.

Administratively, the 2004-05 academic year saw the Athletic Department:

• Lead the Big 12 Conference in overall student-athlete graduation rates for the fifth time in the league's nine-year history. Baylor graduated 78 percent of its student-athletes in the most-recent NCAA survey, which was eight points higher than Baylor's general student population and 16 points better than the NCAA Division I average. BU also graduated a Big 12-best 76 percent of its male student-athletes and a league-high 82 percent of its female student-athletes. The Baylor football program produced a Big 12-leading 88 percent graduation rate, marking the fifth time in the league's history it set the standard for classroom excellence.

• Launch the $90 million "Victory With Integrity" fund-raising campaign in February 2005.

• Sign a new seven-year multi-media rights agreement with ISP Sports of Winston Salem, NC.

• Add women's equestrian as the school's 18th intercollegiate program beginning in the fall of 2005. Ellen White was hired as the team's first head coach.

• Name Clyde Hart, Director of Track and Field, and announce the appointment of Todd Harbour as Head Track and Field Coach.

• Complete the department's five-year strategic plan "Above and Beyond," in September 2004.

• Brand a new and widely acclaimed Baylor Bear logo and identity system.

• Begin construction on the final phases of Grant Teaff Plaza on the east and south sides of Floyd Casey Stadium.

• Host FCA Summer Sports Camps for the first time in more than a decade.

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