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UNC Finishes 8th in Director's Cup Standings

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Down from last season but still pretty darn good.

The NACDA has announced the final standings for the 2011-12 Learfield Director's Cup with UNC finishing 8th overall and second among ACC team. The full list can be found here. The ranking of ACC teams went like this:

5. Florida State
8. North Carolina
15. Virginia
16. Duke
27. Maryland
35. Virginia Tech
37. NC State
54. Clemson
59. Miami
60. Boston College
72. Georgia Tech
92. Wake Forest

And here is how the two future members of the ACC fared.

50. Syracuse
131. Pittsburgh

Virginia Tech's rise to 35th is its best in school history showing that the ACC affiliation has been helpful. NC State jumped up to 37th from 67th showing that hiring Debbie Yow as athletic director may have begun to pay dividends in the overall performance of the athletic program in West Raleigh.

UNC was sixth last season so this was a little slip downward with women's basketball failing to make the NCAA Tournament and baseball exiting in the regional round as points "left on the table." Bubba Cunningham, in an interview with Inside Carolina, addresses the various performances of UNC athletic teams.

The school won the NCAA championship in men's soccer, reached the title game in field hockey, hosted an NCAA baseball regional as a national seed and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA men's basketball tournament during the 2011-12 sports season. Swimmer Stephanie Peacock also won an individual national championship.

Overall, though, Cunningham called it "a little below-average year competitively." Among the most notable examples: North Carolina missed the NCAA women's basketball tournament for the first time since 2001 despite being preselected to host opening-weekend games.

"We had a lot of teams in the postseason, but we didn't advance in the postseason as well as we have in the past," Cunningham said. "And I think that is a great motivator for all of us. Why is that? Is it an anomaly or a trend? Are we investing in our programs to compete at the highest level?"

He said he cut the department's administrative budget by 10 percent to find more money for sports programs. According to the most recent figures from the U.S. Department of Education's gender equity database, North Carolina spent about $70.7 million on sports in 2010-11 — third-most in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Bubba certainly not content with an 8th place finish in the Cup standings terming this past season as "a little below-average year." He also appears to be pro-active in addressing the performance of UNC teams both in terms of athletic department finances and using it as motivation down the road. Asking whether a team's performance is an "anomaly or trend" is a great question to ask. The goal is excellence but when teams fall short of that the next goal is to ensure it is isolated to one season or two. If it appears a team is trending a certain direction then it is incumbent on the athletic director to make the necessary moves to buck that trend. Bubba seems to be in that frame of mind based on his comments to Inside Carolina.

Overall, UNC had another excellent year that saw plenty of winning mixed with some bitter disappointments such as the men's basketball and baseball teams exiting prematurely from the NCAA Tournament. Still, UNC remains a top ten athletic program nationally even with those disappointments which speaks to the depth and strength of the department as a whole.