April 5, 2007
Tennessee's seventh national championship in women's basketball, captured Tuesday night in Cleveland, Ohio, crowned an excellent winter of NCAA postseason competition for the Lady Vols and Vols.
Strong showings from indoor track and field and swimming and diving, in addition to basketball, vaulted Tennessee atop the Southeastern Conference and nearly into the top five nationally in the latest U.S. Sports Academy Directors' Cup Division I standings.
UT is sixth overall with 605.75 points, just one quarter-point behind fifth-place North Carolina (606). Stanford (837.5) leads the division, followed by Wisconsin (753.5), California (659) and Texas (623). Behind Tennessee, Florida (603), Michigan (561), Ohio State (551.5) and Penn State (545) round out the top 10.
"It really is a credit to our student-athletes and our coaches that we're having such a good year," UT women's athletics director Joan Cronan said.
All three Tennessee women's winter sports finished in the top 10.
Basketball capped a 34-3 season with a 59-46 victory over Rutgers in Tuesday's title game. Shannon Bobbitt and Nicky Anosike joined most outstanding player Candace Parker on the Women's Final Four all-tournament team after Parker was awarded the Wade Trophy as the nation's top women's collegiate basketball player. Head coach Pat Summitt has led the team to seven national championships in her 33 seasons at UT.
Women's indoor track and field placed third at the NCAA championships in Fayetteville, Ark., led by Courtney Champion's second-place showing in the 60-meter dash. For head coach J.J. Clark, who in March was named SEC Coach of the Year for the fifth time, it was the program's third top-five NCAA indoor finish in the past four seasons.
Swimming and diving returned to the top 10 for the first time in 11 years with a strong showing in Minneapolis. Under head coach Matt Kredich, the Lady Vols placed 10th and were in the top 15 of the national rankings at every point this season.
On the men's side, basketball compiled a 24-11 record en route to the Sweet 16. Tennessee's 24 wins were the second-most in school history and the Vols finished undefeated at home for the first time since 1975-76. In addition, UT ranked fourth nationally in attendance with an average of 19,661, an increase of 7,436 per game during Bruce Pearl's two seasons as head coach.
Men's indoor track and field head coach Bill Webb led the Vols into the top 10 at the NCAA championships for a second consecutive year and the sixth time in 12 years. The Vols scored 21 points to tie for 10th overall. Rubin Williams paced the individual effort by earning multiple All-America certificates for the third straight national championship meet.
Swimming and diving narrowly missed a top-10 finish, settling for 11th at the championships in Minneapolis. Head coach John Trembley said after the event that optimism and excitement are alive in the program, with a great recruiting class and the new Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center set to open in December.
"I think it is an indication of our commitment to success in all of our sports," said Mike Hamilton, men's athletics director. "From time to time the ball is going to bounce a certain way, and that may determine where you finish in the standings. But we have been fortunate to have a very good sports year thus far and we have a lot of good teams that have yet to finish their spring competition.
"I'll be interested to see where we finish at the end of the year."
Tennessee's best showing in the Directors' Cup was a ninth-place finish two seasons ago. Cronan also sees the chance to match that top-10 effort and perhaps surpass it when the final standings are released in June.
"We certainly hope that our spring sports will close it out well," she said.
The U.S. Sports Academy Directors' Cup was developed as a joint effort between the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and USA Today. The U.S. Sports Academy, based in Daphne, Ala., is the program's sponsor. Points are awarded based on each institution's finish in up to 20 sports - 10 women's and 10 men's.