Texas athletics wins third Directors' Cup in four years as nation's top college program

Kirk Bohls
Texas cheerleaders follow the football team into Royal-Memorial Stadium ahead of the Nov. 4 win over Kansas State. The Longhorns went on to the College Football Playoff's final four, and all 19 UT sports programs competed in the NCAA postseason this year.

For the third time in four years, Texas sits atop the college athletics world as the premier program in the nation.

The Longhorns captured the Learfield Directors' Cup championship on the strength of national titles in volleyball for the second straight year and in rowing as well as a national runner-up finish by the softball team, which was second to Oklahoma but beat Cup rival Stanford twice and eliminated the Cardinal from the Women鈥檚 College World Series, and points in track and field.

Unofficially, Texas outdistanced Stanford by 65 points, claiming 1,377 points with the volleyball and rowing championships and second-place finishes in softball, men鈥檚 tennis, and women鈥檚 swimming and diving. The Cardinal finished second to the Longhorns in rowing 鈥 Texas won its third national title in that sport 鈥 and failed to make the NCAA baseball tournament. Stanford totaled 1,312 points.

The five top-two NCAA finishes tied the 1988-89 Texas school year for the second-most in school history. The Longhorns had 10 in 2021-22. They have totaled 23 NCAA titles and/or runner-up finishes over the past four years alone.

Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte celebrates the school's third Directors' Cup in four years as the nation's top athletic program.

The Directors鈥 Cup awarded Texas the overall trophy on the social media platform X. This is the fourth year in a row that Texas has won multiple national championships.

The women鈥檚 team finished third in the just-completed NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships with two national titles from Ackelia Smith in the triple jump and long jump for 20 of the team鈥檚 41 points. The men came in 12th and celebrated a record-breaking decathlon title from Leo Neugebauer.

鈥淭his just shows if we do what we鈥檙e supposed to, we have a chance to be the best in the country,鈥 Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte told the American-Statesman on Sunday. 鈥淭hree out of four speaks volumes to our incredible coaches, athletes and staff. This is what we set out to do. It goes to show you what we can do if we鈥檙e all rowing the boat in the same direction.鈥

Emphasis on the rowing.

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Texas also won a record-breaking 15 Big 12 championships in the regular season or league tournament play in the 20 sports in which it fields teams, although beach volleyball won鈥檛 officially begin play until next year.聽No other Power Five conference came close as North Carolina claimed nine titles in the ACC and Stanford won nine in the final year of Pac-12 play.

Texas teams qualified for NCAA postseason play in all 19 of its sports. UT got big lifts from almost every sport, with football finishing in a tie for third by reaching the College Football Playoff for the first time in school history and playing Washington in the national semifinals, and with women鈥檚 basketball reaching the Elite Eight.

Asked if this recent run of dominance makes Texas the top athletic department in the SEC, which it will join July 1, Del Conte declined to go there.

鈥淭o me, it鈥檚 always about Texas and no one else,鈥 said Del Conte, who broke the run of 26 consecutive Directors鈥 Cup titles by Stanford with the Longhorns鈥 first overall trophy in 2021. 鈥淚t鈥檚 not about the league. I tell all our coaches and athletes if we are the best versions of ourselves, great things will happen. What league you鈥檙e in doesn鈥檛 matter. We want to be in the top five in the country in every sport. If we focus on ourselves, this is possible.鈥

Del Conte said he does not receive a bonus for winning the Directors鈥 Cup.

鈥淣o, nothing like that,鈥 he said. 鈥淚t鈥檚 our job to do this.鈥