Capital One Cup interview

Although Andrew Luck and Stanford's football team grabbed most of the headlines, 2010-2011 was another successful year for Stanford's athletic department. The Cardinal won another Directors' Cup, its 17th in a row, and their 100th NCAA National Championship. But the Capital One Cup, a new college athletics award, challenged Stanford's claim as the best combined athletic department.

Although Stanford did win the Capital One Cup for best overall women's athletic program, the men finished fifth. The Capital One Cup's scoring formula – only including 13 men's and women's sports, and assigning higher point totals to certain sports – was met with skepticism among some Stanford fans, who felt the Capital One brain trust wanted to ‘Stanford-proof' their award, so that the Cardinal wouldn't be as dominant as they are in the Director's Cup. That's why last Friday, when presented with the opportunity, The Bootleg spoke with Capital One Director of National Sponsorship Byron Daub. We asked Daub about the scoring system, the need for another collegiate athletics award, and more.

The Bootleg: What is your role within the Capital One Cup?

Byron Daub: I am the Director of National Sponsorship for Capital One. I manage all of our sponsorships in college sports, our NCAA partnership, our Capital One mascot program, the Capital One Cup program.

TB: What's your involvement with the Capital One Cup specifically, and how involved were you with its formation last year?

BD: I was very involved. We launched and prior to that created the Capital One Cup in the fall last year, and our goal at Capital One was to create an award that recognized the best men's and the best women's athletic programs for their on-field performance in NCAA championships throughout the entire college season. We spent a lot of time creating the program and feel like we created a program that has been very successful. We've been very happy with our first year. All of the winners were not determined until the last championships of the season, so they all came down to the wire with the Stanford women winning on the women's side and Florida winning on the men's side.

TB: For a long time, the Directors' Cup has been viewed as the crown jewel of collegiate athletics awards. When you guys were starting the Capital One Cup, was the goal to differentiate yourself from the Directors' Cup? Why did you think there should be a second award?

BD: We certainly had awareness of the Directors' Cup program. We wanted to create a program that distinguished between men's and women's athletic programs, so we intentionally created a separate award. Our award is also slightly different in that we really place more of a premium in winning national championships, or in finishing in the top-10 in national championships. Another component that we thought was important as an NCAA partner was to give back to student-athletes, so we are awarding each of the winning programs $200,000 designed for student-athlete scholarships. We really wanted to further support student-athletes in their endeavors academically as well as athletically.

TB: In your scoring system are the Type A and Type B sports, with Type B being worth three times the points as Type A. How do you determine which sport falls into which category?

BD: That's really designed by looking through the lenses of fans and what fans consume, as well as looking at participation among athletic programs, and among the student-athletes who are participating.

TB: The big quibble some people have here on the West Coast is that lacrosse is a group B sport, considering it has low participation here on the West Coast in particular. What is the rationale behind lacrosse in group B?

BD: I don't know about necessarily being focused on the East Coast, I think it definitely it has good representation in the women's. Stanford's women's team finished top-10 last year in lacrosse and it was a big contributor to their winning the Capital One Cup. I think lacrosse is one of the sports that we actually moved into our Group B sports this year based on fan interest and it being sort of a pretty fast-growing sport.

Also this year with the Capital One Cup, we made one significant change to the program that we've included now all Division One sports. We originally created a program that was focused on 13 men's and 13 women's sports. We've now added the remaining sports on the men's side and sports on the women's side. I think it brings it to a total of 19 sports on the men's side and 20 sports on the women's side.

TB: When you originally created the Capital One Cup, what was the rationale behind limiting it to 13 sports for each competition?

BD: Actually an easy decision there, what we had originally done was only included the 13 sports on the men's side and 13 sports on the women's side that actually have a Division I national championship. The other sports have intercollegiate national championships or national collegiate championships. When we originally designed the award, obviously our focus was on Division I programs and that was an easy decision for us to make at that point. Part of the reason we've decided to include all sports was that we felt it was important to be inclusive of these other sports and add approximately another 400,000 student-athletes who can be a part of the Capital One program. We just felt it was the right thing to do.

TB: Ultimately, where do you view the Capital One Cup fitting in the grand scheme of college athletics? Is there a hope, a vision on your end that it will really become more visible, or are you happy where it is now?

BD: Our hope is to make this one of the premier awards in college sports. We have been very aggressive in our first year of launching the program and really feel like we've been very happy with the exposure and awareness that we've gained for the program. We're going to continue that focus in year two. We really want this to become the premier award in college sports and I think that we have the structure and program in place to make that happen.

TB: What kind of reception do you generally get from administrators and student-athletes when you go to campus or speak with them on the phone, even though your award has only been around for a year?

BD: We feel like we've gotten a lot of positive support for the program and really what we're doing in terms of raising the exposure of college athletics, and even beyond with the big sports of football, basketball and those types of sports. We're really shining a spotlight, we feel we're shining a spotlight on a lot of the sports that don't get the same type of exposure that the big sports do. Our reception has been very good. As we've looked at making changes in year two, we've listened to feedback from various constituents such as the NCAA, athletic directors, as well as the SAAC, which is the student-athlete advisory council. We've had several conversations with them, and they've been very receptive to the program as well as to the changes we've made for year two.

TB: Was there any hesitation or debate among you guys to make FCS football count as much as FBS football?

BD: No, I think we recognized it's sort of a unique, in terms of the way football is separated between FCS and FBS. We felt like FCS football was important to include at an equal level partially also because most of these programs are competing on an equal playing field in Division I sports such as basketball or other sports, so we felt like including FCS was the right decision, and we're happy with that decision we've made.

TB: Finally, I'll put you on the spot here, any early predictions for the 2011-2012 Cup?

BD: No early predictions. I will say Stanford is certainly starting out strong, obviously on the women's side with highly ranked teams in soccer and volleyball, and then even on the men's side. The Stanford men's team finished in fifth place last year on the men's side, and certainly with their early-season success in college football, they're well on their way this year. I think that's the great thing about the Capital One Cup, I think each school has a chance to win and we saw it really come down to the championships last year where Texas A&M finished first in women's track and field, and had Stanford not finished in eighth place in track and field, Texas A&M would have won the women's cup. I think it draws a lot of excitement, and we're excited about year two and the kickoff of the college sports season.

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