CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Bates College has posted a best-ever 20th in a national ranking of the country's most successful varsity sports programs of 2016–17.
The Learfield Directors' Cup final Division III standings were announced Thursday by the National Association of College Directors of Athletics (NACDA).
Bates varsity sports combined for 540.5 Directors' Cup points, the 20th most out of 325 institutions that scored. In all, there are 451 Division III member schools.
"It really is a testament to what I think is so special about our student-athletes and the coaches and staff that we have," said Kevin McHugh, now in his final month as Bates' Director of Athletics. "I just think we have a really different, special group, across all sports."
The Learfield Directors' Cup was developed as a joint effort between NACDA and USA Today. Points are awarded based on each institution's finish at NCAA Championships.
Bates recorded big Directors' Cup point totals over the final two weeks of the year from women's rowing, men's lacrosse and women's outdoor track & field to surge from 24th place at winter's end into 20th place at year's end. Adding to Bates' final point total were women's cross country, women's indoor track & field, women's swimming, alpine and Nordic skiing, and men's indoor track & field.
"The last event I was lucky enough to attend was women's rowing [winning the NCAA Championship]," said McHugh, who announced in August 2016 he was stepping down as Bates' athletic director at the end of the academic year. "Then having our highest finish ever in the Directors' Cup standings feels like a capstone. I couldn't have scripted any better. It just feels really, really good."
Fueling Bates' success in particular were the varsity programs that enjoyed their finest NCAA Championship finishes to date, such as men's lacrosse (NCAA quarterfinalist), women's track & field (11th in both indoor and outdoor), men's swimming (24th) and women's rowing (NCAA champion). (Four Bates varsity teams are not eligible to compete in NCAA championships: football, men's rowing and men's and women's squash.)
How Bates' 540.5 Directors' Cup points were scored:
Women's Cross Country: 55 points (19th place)
Women's Indoor Track & Field: 64.5 points (T–11th place)
Women's Swimming: 63 points (13th place)
Men's Swimming: 50 points (24th place)
Alpine & Nordic Skiing: 40 points (17th place)
Men's Indoor Track & Field: 29 points (42nd place)
Women's Rowing: 100 points (1st place)
Men's Lacrosse: 73 points (T–5th place)
Women's Outdoor Track & Field: 66 points (11th place)
NESCAC Institutions in the Directors' Cup Final Standings:
1. Williams (1st); 2. Tufts (3rd); 3. Middlebury (7th); 4. Amherst (8th); 5. Bates (20th); 6. Wesleyan (47th); 7. Bowdoin (63rd); 8. Trinity (72nd); 9. Connecticut College (125th); T-10. Colby, Hamilton (169th)
Bates' Top 5 Years in the Directors' Cup:
1. 2016–17 (20th); 2. 2014–15 (27th); 3. 2004–05 (33rd); 4. 1999–00 (35th); 5. 2012–13 (38th)