SUNY Cortland Division III athletics ranked best in New York State

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The SUNY Cortland women's lacrosse team captured its first NCAA title in program history by defeating previously top-ranked Trinity College, the same team that has ended Cortland's season three years in a row (SUNY Cortland Athletics)

The SUNY Cortland women’s lacrosse team captured its first NCAA title in program history by defeating previously top-ranked Trinity College, the same team that has ended Cortland’s season three years in a row (SUNY Cortland Athletics)

CORTLAND, N.Y. – The top Division III athletics program in New York state belongs to SUNY Cortland, based on the final standings of the 2014-15 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup competition.

During a year that produced two team titles (baseball and women’s lacrosse) and a pair of individual national champions (Joe Giaramita in wrestling and Maddy Scozzie in women’s gymnastics), the College finished in 12th place among the approximately 450 eligible NCAA Division III programs competing nationally. The Red Dragons finished ahead of 11 other New York institutions that placed in the top 100.

The college also maintained its spot among a select Division III group nationally. SUNY Cortland remains one of only five schools nationwide to place in the top 25 each of the 20 years the standings have been compiled on the Division III level. The other schools to hold that distinction are Amherst College (Mass.), Emory University (Ga.), Middlebury College (Vt.) and Williams College (Mass.).

“This most recent announcement is another testament to the extraordinary year it has been for SUNY Cortland and our talented student-athletes,” said College President Erik J. Bitterbaum. “To be one of only five (Division III) institutions nationwide in the Top 25 every year signifies consistent excellence — an honor that should leave all Red Dragons past and present feeling proud.”

Related: How the SUNY Cortland baseball team captured its first national title

SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher also extended her congratulations.

“Congratulations to the entire athletics department, especially the women’s lacrosse and baseball teams of SUNY Cortland for winning their first ever national championships in their respective sports,” said Chancellor Zimpher. “The College’s efforts are great examples of the strength and commitment of our SUNY athletes both on the field and in the classroom.”

The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), Learfield Sports and USA Today present the award annually to recognize overall excellence among collegiate athletic programs.

The standings are compiled based on schools’ national finishes in different sports. Teams earn points by qualifying for the NCAA postseason and additional points for advancing in the playoffs. The national champion in each sport earns 100 points.

The Red Dragons finished with a score of 716 points. Williams won its 18th Directors’ Cup with 1,053 points, followed by Johns Hopkins (Md.) (1,016.75), MIT (961), Washington (Mo.) (944) and Amherst (918.50) in the top five.

SUNY Cortland had 12 teams finish in the top 40 in 2014-15 NCAA postseason competitions, including four top-10 finishes. In addition to the women’s lacrosse and baseball teams each claiming their first national titles, men’s lacrosse tied for fifth after advancing to the national quarterfinals and the men’s soccer team tied for ninth after advancing to the “Sweet 16” round.

Wrestling placed 13th, women’s indoor track and field tied for 18th, men’s cross country finished 19th and men’s indoor track and field tied for 21st. In addition, men’s outdoor track and field tied for 24th, women’s cross country placed 26th, softball tied for 33rd and women’s outdoor track and field finished 39th. The women’s gymnastics team finished fifth nationally at the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association (NCGA) Division III Championships, but that result is not figured in the Directors’ Cup standings since it is not an NCAA-sponsored championship.

Other New York state institutions in the top 100 included: Ithaca (30th), Geneseo (32nd), Oneonta (40th), New York University (42nd), St. Lawrence (46th), Skidmore (55th), Rochester Institute of Technology (70th), St. John Fisher (74th), Plattsburgh (93rd), Hamilton (95th) and Nazareth (97th).

The College’s 2014-15 finish marked the 12th time in the past 15 years that SUNY Cortland placed in the top 15. The Red Dragons tied for second in 1997-98, third in 2006-07 and fifth in 2005-06 and 2008-09.