CLEVELAND--Buoyed by its best spring season in eight years, Western New England University Athletics finished in a tie for 169th place out of 450 NCAA Division III institutions in the final 2014-15 Learfield Directors' Cup standings, translating to being ranked in the top 37 percent nationally while supporting a broad-based program.
The Learfield Sports Directors' Cup was developed as a joint effort between the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and USA Today.¬†The rankings quantify the national success of all Division III athletics programs.
After not appearing in the standings after the fall and winter seasons, the Golden Bears qualified three spring sports to their respective NCAA Championships in men's golf, women's lacrosse and softball. The Learfield/NACDA Directors' Cup formula awarded the following points system to WNE: Women's Lacrosse with 50 points (17th place), Men's Golf with 40 points (33rd place) and Softball with 25 points (33rd place). The last time Western New England produced three NCAA championship spring teams was in 2007 when Baseball, Women's Lacrosse and Men's Lacrosse advanced beyond the conference postseason.
Men's Golf won its first Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) championship since 2008, edging defending champion Endicott College by a one-stroke thriller on the Gulls' home course back in April. The Golden Bears gained the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Men's Golf Championships in Greensboro, N.C., where they finished 33rd out of 41 teams. It marked the program's first-ever bid to the NCAAs.
Women's Lacrosse, which finished in first place for the third consecutive year, earned its first CCC crown ever by holding off Roger Williams University in the conference championship game, 11-9, on May 2. Western New England made its sixth NCAA tournament appearance in team history--and first 2007--and advanced to the second round of the national tournament for the first time after receiving a first-round bye. The Golden Bears ended up 16-3 overall.
Softball became the first women's sport at WNE to capture a CCC title (by a mere 37 minutes before Women's Lacrosse on May 2), dispatching defending champion Endicott College at home, 4-1. Western New England made its first NCAA appearance since 2006 and the sixth overall. The Golden Bears went 1-2 at the Williamstown regional hosted by Williams College, losing two games by a 3-0 combined score against WPI and the home Ephs. Western New England finished 30-9 on the season.
Western New England was among six CCC members listed in the Cup standings: Endicott College (128th, 153 points), Roger Williams (133rd, 141 points), Nichols College (150th, 125 points), WNE, University of New England (189th, 103 points) and Curry College (279th, 25 points).
Complete standings and the scoring structure can be found on NACDA's website at www.directorscup.org. In addition, please visit www.thedirectorscup.com, like us on Facebook at facebook.com/lsdirectorscup or follow us on Twitter @lsdirectorscup.
About Learfield Sports: Since 1972, Learfield has developed trusted, long-term relationships with some of the most revered institutions and associations in the world of collegiate athletics. Learfield Sports currently manages the exclusive multimedia rights to nearly 100 collegiate properties in the country and has prominence in all of the major conferences. Additionally, Learfield Sports offers its university partners with licensing and trademark consulting, web solutions, concessions and hospitality services, and professional ticket sales. The 2014-15 athletic season marks the company's seventh consecutive year to title the prestigious Learfield Sports Directors' Cup. For more about its history and complete collegiate portfolio, visit http://www.learfieldsports.com.