Closer Look at the Directors’ Cup

The Directors’ Cup is defined on their website as “A program that honors institutions maintaining a broad-based program, achieving success in many sports, both men’s and women’s. Began in 1993-94 for Division I by NACDA and USA Today, it was expanded in 1995-96 to include Division II, III and the NAIA.”

All-Time (1994 to 2010)
Over the past 17 years of the Directors’ Cup, NC State has an average finish of 50.6 with a high of 32 in 1995 and a low of 89 in 2010.

NC State had 3 different ADs during the existence of the Directors’ Cup, Todd Turner (1994 to 1996), Les Robinson (1997 to 2000) and Lee Fowler (2001 to 2010). Here are the average finishes for each AD:
Turner – 41.7
Robinson – 50.8
Fowler – 53.2

Current School Year (2010)
NC State finished 89th in the final 2009-2010 standings , which ranks last in the ACC and 60th out of 66 BCS schools. Here are the ACC standings:
3. Virginia
5. Florida St
7. North Carolina
10. Duke
28. Maryland
36. Virginia Tech
42. Georgia Tech
44. Clemson
47. Wake Forest
52. Miami
55. Boston College
89. NC State

The only BCS schools behind NC State in the standings were Rutgers (96), South Florida (105), Pitt (112), Mississippi St (114), Cincinnati (116) and Kansas St (123).

There were 29 non-BCS schools that finished above NC State including 5 Ivy League schools and 2 service academies. The school where Lee Fowler was previously AD, Middle Tennessee St, finished 79th, 10 spots ahead of NC State. The non-BCS schools ahead of NC State were Princeton, BYU, TCU, New Mexico, Villanova, Cornell, Boise St, Hawaii, Harvard, Denver, San Diego St, St John’s, Georgetown, Kent St, New Hampshire, SMU, Utah, Yale, Tulsa, Northern Arizona, Middle Tennessee St, Penn, Central Michigan, UTEP, Army, Navy, Akron, UNLV & UC Santa Barbara.

NC State received points in W Basketball (33rd place/25 points), Baseball (49th/25), M Cross Country (27th/20), M Golf (63rd/7.2), W Golf (61st/12), M Soccer (17th/50), M Outdoor Track (60th/9.38), Wrestling (56th/16.5) and Gymnastics (31st/38.8). Surprisingly, our much criticized men’s soccer team earned the most points.

Since our new AD, Debbie Yow, was previously AD at Maryland there will be the inevitable comparisons between the Wolfpack and the Terrapins. Maryland finished 28th with 710.3 points compared to NC State at 89th with 203.88 points. If you exclude the sports that Maryland has that NC State doesn’t, that eliminates 2nd place Field Hockey, 5th place M Lacrosse and national champion W Lacrosse. Maryland would still have 460.3 points (over twice as many as NCSU) and would rank 48th (41 spots ahead of NCSU).

The Last Decade (2001 to 2010)
Here are the Directors’ Cup standings for each ACC school over the past decade:

A couple of observations from this table:
The worst finish for Duke, North Carolina and Virginia are better than NC State’s best finish.

The worst finish for Clemson, Maryland and Wake Forest is right around NC State’s average finish. Basically, a bad year for those schools is the typical year for NC State.

If you look at the yearly standings for NC State, you can clearly see a decline over the past 4 years and the trendline is definitely on the decline. In 2006 NCSU had a decade best ranking of 34th, then fell 10 spots in 2007, fell another 12 spots in 2008, 18 more spots in 2009 and 15 spots in 2010 for a total decline of 55 spots.

For comparison, how do the yearly standings for the other ACC schools look? Below are the same graphs for all the other ACC schools. As you look at those graphs, look at the sharp decline of NCSU compared to the consistancy of the plot points of every other ACC school. If you look at the trendlines, Virginia Tech is definitely on the upswing while Duke, Florida St and Virginia are also on the way up. Georgia Tech and North Carolina are also trending up but the trendlines are pretty level. Maryland’s trendline is pretty close to if not straight. Boston College, Clemson, Miami and Wake Forest are slightly trending down but are still pretty consistant and their downward trends are certainly not at the level of NCSU’s.

ACC Expansion Era (2006 to 2010)
While NC State ranked 10th out of the 12 ACC schools in average finish over the last decade, in the expansion era from 2006 to the present NC State ranks ahead of only Boston College, who at least won 2 national championships in hockey during this time period.

The obvious decline in NC State’s ranking in the Directors’ Cup standings, especially when every other ACC school is either improving or at least has shown consistancy, just further supports Chancellor Woodson’s decision to hire a new athletic director.

About WV Wolf

Graduated from NCSU in 1996 with a degree in statistics. Born and inbred in West "By God" Virginia and now live in Raleigh where I spend my time watching the Wolfpack, the Mountaineers and the Carolina Hurricanes as well as making bar graphs for SFN. I'm @wvncsu on the Twitter machine.

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28 Responses to Closer Look at the Directors’ Cup

  1. 61Packer 08/17/2010 at 9:43 PM #

    State’s 2001-2010 graph chart looks a lot like the US economy’s run during those years.

  2. sbas2 08/18/2010 at 7:31 AM #

    61Packer’s comment about State’s performance in the Director’s Cup looking like the US economies run gave me pause. so i found this graph:

    and yes, State’s performance and the US economies performance are somewhat similar, but State’s performance is worse.
    yep, it was good decision to fire Fowler.

  3. sautz 08/18/2010 at 8:50 AM #

    I will never understand how some, including the faculty, backed Fowler for so long and how he won awards. It’s not like academics were stellar under his leadership, either.

  4. StateFans 08/18/2010 at 9:33 AM #

    ^ You can understand it by recognizing that generally untalented people don’t recognize talent (or failure). Also, they all benefited by not rocking the boat and facilitating each other’s failure. Look where Oblinger’s ‘leadership’ has gotten us in the latest US News & World Report rankings.

  5. ChemE79a 08/18/2010 at 9:36 AM #

    A few points.
    1. Of course we should be doing better in this metric. But the reality is that, until we fund a few more sports that are included in the tabulations, low 30’s to upper 20’s is probably our ceiling.

    2. It would be interesting to see how NCSU compares against the ACC for DC points scored in the sports that NCSU participates in. Again I am sure that the level of success would be unacceptable, but it would not appear quite as abysmal.

    3. This article is not the first I have seen that attempts to illustrate just how bad NSCU’s performance has been in the DC standings by pointing out how many ivy league schools or military academies or other small conference schools did better than NCSU. It is an interesting point, but it needs to be balanced against the fact that a lot of the DC points come from where a school finishes in its conference. Thus if any of these small schools do well against other small schools they can rack up a lot of points. Therefore it is not surprising that some small schools can place surprisingly high.

  6. ruffles31 08/18/2010 at 9:55 AM #

    ^, actually #3 is incorrect. Points given in the director’s cup has absolutely nothing to do with conference finish. You only get points for where you finish nationally. For example, our women’s basketball team received 25 points for finishing in 33rd place. Remember they lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament. In the second round, there are 32 teams left. Therefore, with Coach Harper’s team losing in the round of 64, there are 32 teams that tied for 33rd place.

    In Men’s Soccer, they lost in the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament…therefore that is a tie for 17th place and the associated 50 points.

    And so on.

    Conference finish means nothing. NCAA finish means everything.

  7. ChemE79a 08/18/2010 at 10:10 AM #

    Because quallifying for the NCAA, particulaly for the small conference schools, depends entirely on how a school does in conference – conference finish can mean quite a lot. If a school can consistently qualify for the NCAA in a variety of sports, even if it loses in the first round every time, that school can accumulate a decent number of points.

  8. packof81 08/18/2010 at 10:15 AM #

    I’m with sautz. I don’t understand why it took so long to get shed of Fowler. Why did our athletic program have to crater before Fowler was fired?

  9. StateFans 08/18/2010 at 10:41 AM #

    ^ Because most of the old-boy network doesn’t have a clue how things are in the real world. Our power brokers and alumni leaders have always been anointed because of $$$s and contributions as opposed to real talent. Of course every school is built that way to some degree…but much moreso in Raleigh.

    Take a look at NC State’s Board of Trustees a couple of years ago and compare the real talent of the Board to the Boards of our competitors. It’s laughable.

    Bob Steele – of Goldman Sachs and later CEO of Wachovia – was chairman of Duke’s Board at the time that 36 year old McQueen Campbell, son of a former trustee, was the Chairman of our Board.

  10. WV Wolf 08/18/2010 at 10:44 AM #

    The reason I like to point out the Ivy League schools and the service academies is with the lack of athletic scholarships in the Ivy League and the entrance requirements of the service academies, those schools probably have a harder time recruiting than NCSU does. Not a huge point, but a little something to think about.

  11. ChemE79a 08/18/2010 at 10:53 AM #

    I agree WV Wolf. I am only arguing that the point needs to be balanced against the fact that, at least in the case of the ivies, they are competing against other schools in the same boat.

  12. PoppaJohn 08/18/2010 at 11:14 AM #

    Nice work WV Wolf. Your graphs clearly make your point.
    I guess the only positive thing to say is the new administration has massive opportunity for improvement.

  13. VaWolf82 08/18/2010 at 12:32 PM #

    But the reality is that, until we fund a few more sports that are included in the tabulations, low 30′s to upper 20′s is probably our ceiling.

    BS. State funds plenty of teams and athletes (currently 5th in ACC in number of athletes). For instance, State has about 40 more athletes than Duke, yet Duke’s average ranking was 15th over the last decade. State has 150 more athletes than GT, yet managed a worse ranking.

    The problem is that State does poorly in nearly all sports and no one has cared for 20 years.

    More on teams supported and number of athletes across the ACC here:

  14. MP 08/18/2010 at 12:51 PM #

    This is the type of work that I have emailed to non-NCSU (but pro-ACC) people who may not see every day, just because anyone would be interested in such an excellent post.

    Following up on ChemE79a’a comments and also some of Debbie Yow’s goals (e.g. ‘finish in the top half of the ACC public universities’) it will be interesting to track this over the coming years both in terms of the overall standings as included in this post, but also to track DC standings in relationship to our department goals. I can’t help but think that the ‘top half’ type of goal is somewhat related to our current “ceiling” as CE79a stated – i.e. it is not out of the question that we could finish 3rd or 4th among these peers but actually be kicking ass within the programs that we field. It would be nice if we could also expand our overall Athletic Department programs.

  15. packbackr04 08/18/2010 at 12:54 PM #

    Vawolf^ i would personally like to see Lacrosse and a few other sports come back. Hopefully Yow has something in mind to get some more non-revenue sports here to NCSU.

  16. wufpup76 08/18/2010 at 1:04 PM #

    Nice work.

    Thanks for your effort.

  17. ChemE79a 08/18/2010 at 1:24 PM #

    VaWolf, number of athletes only matters in this discussion if you belief that the more athletes you have the more high quality athletes you have. OTOH, you can not score points for a sport in which you do not field a team. My filter here at work will not let me open much at the Director’s Cup site but I suspect that men’s ice hockey, lacrosse, fencing and maybe sailing as well as women’s lacrosse, field hockey, fencing, rowing and sailing are all sports for which the DC awards points. Unless we are going to start winning national chanpionships every year in several sports, the strategy to secure a consistent high DC ranking is to field as many teams as possible and to consistently get some points from most of them.

  18. WV Wolf 08/18/2010 at 1:50 PM #

    Only 20 sports count in the standings:
    “In Division I, there will be 20 sports counted in the standings – the top 10 men’s and the top 10 women’s”

    “If an institution scores in more than 10 sports per gender, points will be awarded for the 10 sports which received the highest point total.”

    NCSU has enough teams to fill the 10 and 10 slots. I’d rather see us get the teams we have performing better before adding anything new but that’s just me.

  19. ChemE79a 08/18/2010 at 2:02 PM #

    WV Wolf I agree with you in terms of what would give me more satisfaction. But if the discussion is “what do we need to do to consistently improve our DC standings?” then that sort of scoring system almost makes it more important to field as many teams as possible. The more teams you have the more likely it is that some of them will have a bad year. If a school fields enough teams to reach ten without including the ones that are having a bad year that only increases their chances of achieving a high DC score every year. Of course the flaw in this arguement is it assumes your high performing teams do well enough to score at least some DC points. So yes, improving what we already have is important to.

  20. timberwolf 08/18/2010 at 2:42 PM #

    2nd the great work! Now I am going back to stick my head in the sand.

  21. WV Wolf 08/18/2010 at 3:06 PM #

    I really do appreciate the compliments from everyone, thanks for reading.

  22. VaWolf82 08/18/2010 at 3:10 PM #

    The number of teams that State fields places it at the middle of the conference. The results place State at the bottom of the conference. Adding more teams would only help State’s DC standings if the new sports do better than the ones already fielded. Anyone that expects fielding more teams would magically improve State’s standing simply wasn’t paying attention during the LF era.

    I repeat, State’s problems have been performance and leadership…not the number of teams fielded.

  23. bradleyb123 08/18/2010 at 3:44 PM #

    Good work, WV Wolf. You guys at SFN certainly do your homework.

  24. ChemE79a 08/18/2010 at 4:04 PM #

    VaWolf82, I think you are missing my arguement. I completely agree that the reason NCSU is currently 89 instead of low 30’s is performance and leadership. OTOH, consistently ranking in the low 20’s or teens would require more teams for all the reasons I have described above. Absolutley we need to improve the performance of our existing teams. No matter how many teams you have if they cannot place into the NCAA’s then they add nothing to your score. But consistently getting into the 20’s or lower in the rankings will require either winning multiple national titles most years or having enougth teams that each year 10 for each gender will at least place and a few will advance.

  25. VaWolf82 08/18/2010 at 4:23 PM #

    VaWolf82, I think you are missing my arguement…consistently ranking in the low 20′s or teens would require more teams…

    I get your argument. But it’s wrong and obscures the bigger point.

    By my count, FSU fields three fewer teams than State BUT has an average finish of 13.4 over the last five years. This dispels your argument that State needs to field more teams BEFORE it can hope to move up into the top 25 nationally.

    If State were ACTUALLY in the top 30/40 and people were complaining, then an argument to add more teams might have some validity. But State is at the middle of conference in number of teams and near (or at) the bottom in performance. IIRC from previous discussions, State is among the lowest ranked schools from any BCS conference.

    So the real issue isn’t about some theoretical expected performance level…the point is that the entire athletic department at NC State has been spending millions of dollars to support absolute crap on the field/court.

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