UT on fast pace in all-sports race

Florida may own national championships in football and basketball but Tennessee ranks higher nationally in all-sports excellence, according to the latest U.S. Sports Academy Directors' Cup standings.

The Directors' Cup, which combines men's and women's athletics, shows UT ranking No. 1 in the Southeastern Conference and No. 6 nationally in overall sports success for the 2006-07 school year. The Big Orange surged into this lofty perch when the Lady Vol basketball team capped a 34-3 season by beating Rutgers for the national title Tuesday night in Cleveland, Ohio.

Tennessee also got a big year from its men's basketball program, which went 24-11 and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16.

The latest Directors' Cup rankings are as follows:

1. Stanford 837.5

2. Wisconsin 753.5

3. California 659

4. Texas 623

5. North Carolina 606

6. Tennessee 605.75

7. Florida 603

8. Michigan 561

9. Ohio State 551.5

10. Penn State 545

All three Lady Vol winter sports – basketball, indoor track and swimming – placed among the top 10 nationally. The track team was third and the swimmers 10th.

"It really is a credit to our student-athletes and our coaches that we're having such a good year," UT women's athletics director Joan Cronan said in a statement released by the university.

Tennessee is enjoying a good year in men's winter sports, as well. In addition to the basketball team's Sweet 16 appearance, the Vols notched a No. 10 national finish in indoor track and a No. 11 finish in swimming.

"I think it is an indication of our commitment to success in all of our sports," men's athletics director Mike Hamilton said. "From time to time the ball is going to bounce a certain way, and that may determine where you finish in the standings. But we have been fortunate to have a very good sports year thus far and we have a lot of good teams that have yet to finish their spring competition.

"I'll be interested to see where we finish at the end of the year."

Should Tennessee maintain its No. 6 standing, it will achieve its highest finish ever in the Directors' Cup. The best showing to date was a ninth-place finish two seasons ago.

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