A record-setting athletics year, including one NCAA title and 10 Southeastern Conference regular season and tournament championships, elevated the University of Arkansas to a program best No. 8 finish in the 2020-21 Learfield IMG College Directors’ Cup final standings released on Friday by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of America (NACDA).
The Directors’ Cup tracks the nation’s most successful intercollegiate athletics programs for their performances throughout the year. Arkansas finished in the top 10 of the Directors’ Cup standings for the first time in school history and ranked No. 1 in the standings among programs with 19 or fewer sports. Arkansas was one of four SEC programs (Florida, Alabama and Georgia) to be ranked in the top-10 in the standings. A total of eight SEC programs ranked in the top 25 of the final standings.
Arkansas’ previous best Directors’ Cup finish came in the 1998-99 competitive year when the Razorbacks finished No. 14.
“In a year that presented extraordinary challenges of competing within a pandemic, Razorback student-athletes responded to produce a collective season of unprecedented success for our program,” Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Hunter Yurachek said. “It is only fitting that this phenomenal year of success culminates with one more top-10 national finish in the Directors’ Cup. Across the board, our sport programs competed and won in the nation’s most competitive conference. This record-breaking success is a credit to our incredible 465+ student-athletes who represent our program, our coaches and staff, and the passionate Razorback fans around the world who cheered them on.”
Arkansas has finished in the top 25 of the Directors’ Cup 14 times in the 27-year history of the Directors’ Cup, including in nine of the last 10 final standings. Due to the pandemic and resulting abbreviated championship seasons, the
Directors’ Cup standings were not awarded for the 2019-20 athletics seasons. In 2018-19, Arkansas earned a No. 23 finish in the Directors’ Cup.
Arkansas earned 988.75 Directors’ Cup points, the most compiled by the Razorbacks in the history of the competition. The previous high of 912.5 points came in 2015-16 when Arkansas finished 16th. In 2020-21, Directors’ Cup points were earned consistently in each of the sport seasons with the program earning 209 points in fall sports, 383 points in winter sports and 396.75 in spring sports. Arkansas qualified for postseason play in 18 of its 19 sports this athletics year, with only volleyball missing postseason play, due to a reduced tournament field.
The Razorback Baseball team had a tremendous run in 2021, winning both the SEC regular season and SEC Tournament titles. Coach Dave Van Horn led Arkansas to its first outright SEC regular season championship since 2002 and the first SEC Tournament championship in program history. The Hogs were the consensus No. 1 team for most of the season and earned the top national seed in the NCAA Tournament. Arkansas hosted both an NCAA Regional and NCAA Super Regional at Baum-Walker Stadium. The Hogs finished the season with a 50-13 record and earned 64 Directors’ Cup points for their championship season.
It was a historic season for Razorback Softball as well, as SEC Coach of the Year Courtney Deifel led her team to the first SEC regular season championship in school history. Arkansas finished 43-11 on the season and shared the regular season title with Florida. For the first time, Bogle Park hosted both a NCAA Regional and NCAA Super Regional. Arkansas earned 64 points for advancing to the NCAA Super Regional round.
It was another championship season for Razorback women’s track and field with Coach Lance Harter’s squad completing an SEC Triple crown with a victory at the 2021 SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The women’s team earned its ninth SEC Outdoor title and captured its seventh SEC Triple Crown by topping the league standings by 6.5 points over No. 1 LSU. It was the 20th conference crown in the past 21 SEC Championships contested in cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field. Arkansas went on to finish 15th at the NCAA Championships, earning a total of 60 Directors Cup points.
The Razorback men’s outdoor track and field team outlasted its competition to capture its 20th SEC Outdoor team championship and its 16th SEC Triple Crown. Coach Chris Bucknam’s squad s racked up 26 points in the 5,000 meters to vault the Razorbacks to a 20-point victory. The Hogs finished 28th at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, clinching the coveted John McDonnell Program of the Year competition, presented to the men’s program with the best combined finish in cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field. Arkansas earned 43.5 Directors’ Cup points in outdoor track and field.
For the third time in the past five seasons, the Razorback men’s tennis team earned a berth into the NCAA Championships. It marked the 20th NCAA appearance in the history of the men’s tennis program. Arkansas traveled to Fort Worth, Texas where it lost to No. 7 national seed TCU in a first-round match. The Hogs tallied 25 points for its NCAA Tournament bid.
For the first time since 2015, Arkansas also saw its name appear on the NCAA Tournament selection show for women’s tennis. The Razorbacks were assigned to the NCAA Regional in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Arkansas ended its season with a hard-fought 4-2 loss to Old Dominion in the first round of the draw. The Razorbacks earned 25 Directors’ Cup points for their NCAA appearance.
Coach Brad McMakin led the Razorback men’s golf team to another strong campaign on the links. Arkansas advanced to the match play final, finishing as the SEC runner-up after being edged by Vanderbilt in the final match of the day at the final hole of the competition. Razorback Segundo Olivia Pinto won the SEC individual title. Arkansas finished second at the NCAA Kingston Springs Regional to advance to the NCAA Men’s Golf Tournament. The Razorbacks finished tied for 11th at the national championships, earning 65.25 Directors’ Cup points.
Arkansas was once again in contention throughout the 2021 women’s golf campaign. The Hogs advanced through stroke play to match play competition at the SEC Women’s Golf Championship. The team went on to earn the program’s 19th NCAA appearance, including its 18th-consecutive bid to the postseason. Coach Shauna Taylor’s squad was selected for the ultra-competitive NCAA Louisville Regional. Arkansas narrowly missed advancing to the NCAA Championship, after losing a team playoff to No. 1 South Carolina. The finish earned Arkansas 48 points in the Directors’ Cup competition.
Even a global pandemic could not keep the Razorback women’s track and field team from defending its NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championship. Arkansas, the 2019 NCAA Indoor Champion, finally had an opportunity for a repeat and it took full advantage capturing the 2021 NCAA title at the Randal Tyson Track Center. The Razorbacks racked up 68 points, despite not recording an individual event or relay victory. It marked the first time in NCAA history that a women’s team won the national championship without winning at least one event. Arkansas earned 100 Directors’ Cup points for the NCAA title.
Arkansas earned another 71.25 points in the same event, with the Razorback men rallying for a seventh-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. The following week, the men’s cross country team tallied 80 points after a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Razorback women’s cross country team earned another 60 points with a top-10 finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championships.
Following a second-consecutive SEC regular season championship, the Razorback soccer team made a deep run into the NCAA Soccer Tournament, reaching the Sweet Sixteen for only the second time in school history. Coach Colby Hale and the Razorbacks fell to eventual national champion Santa Clara, earning 64 Directors’ Cup points.
Coach Eric Musselman led the Razorback men’s basketball team to a SEC runner-up finish and an historic run through the NCAA Tournament. Arkansas earned a No. 3 seed and advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in more than 25 years before falling to eventual national champion Baylor. Arkansas’ memorable season racked up 73 points for the Directors’ Cup standings.
Coach Mike Neighbors and the Razorback women’s basketball team recorded some of the biggest wins in school history knocking off No. 3 Baylor and No. 1 Connecticut at Bud Walton Arena during the 2020-21 season. The Razorbacks earned a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament, advancing to the Big Dance for the first time since 2015. Arkansas earned 25 points for its NCAA Tournament berth.
The Razorback gymnastics team added 66.75 points to the Directors’ Cup ledger after advancing to the NCAA Regional final in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Arkansas ranked among the nation’s best programs all season long and earned a berth into the night session of the SEC Gymnastics Championship for the first time in school history.
Arkansas carried the momentum from a program-best finish at the SEC Championships to a 27th place finish at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships. The Razorbacks earned 47 points for their championship efforts in the pool this season.
The Directors’ Cup program has been tracking the success of the nation’s top intercollegiate athletics programs since 1993-94.