This year has been quite the year for UNC athletics. Now that the college baseball season is in the final series of the season, it is confirmed that UNC will hold onto the No. 5 spot in this year’s Learfield Directors’ Cup. This marks the 3rd year in a row that the program has finished out the year in the national top 10. This also marks UNC’s 20th top-10 finish in the 24-year history of the award.
The Learfield Directors’ Cup is an award given to a school that earns the most points through their varsity sports by the end of the school year. Stanford won it this year yet again, as they have won it every year with the exception of the inaugural year when UNC won the cup in 1994.
This year, the top 10 ranked schools were:
2.) Ohio State
5.) North Carolina
8.) Penn State
While UNC was unable to finish at the top of the rankings nationally, they dominated the standings in the ACC conference with 2nd place Florida State finishing 232.25 points behind them. The top 10 ranked schools in the ACC for the year were:
1.) North Carolina (5)
2.) Florida State (13)
3.) Virginia (19)
4.) Notre Dame (23)
5.) Louisville (26)
6.) NC State (29)
7.) Duke (32)
8.) Virginia Tech (40)
9.) Syracuse (44)
10.) Miami (56)
( )* shows where teams ranked nationally
North Carolina managed to finish the year with five ACC regular season/tournament championships, five Final Fours, and a National Championship in men’s basketball. Aside from basketball, notable sports that provided huge contributions to the program’s success this year were baseball, women’s field hockey, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s tennis, and our track and field team. If you would like to see a breakdown of which sport achieved which accomplishments, THB writer Daniel Bayer wrote a piece last month detailing each sport’s milestones this year.
This year we also saw some big time players from UNC athletics get drafted into professional leagues for their respective sports in the first round. Mitch Trubisky was the biggest name amongst all of them this year, as he was the 2nd overall pick in the NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. In baseball, J.B. Bukauskas was drafted 15th overall by the Houston Astros. And Logan Warmoth was drafted 22nd by the Toronto Blue Jays. Finally, the NBA Draft wrapped up last week as Justin Jackson was drafted 15th overall to the Sacramento Kings. Also, Tony Bradley snuck into the mix being drafted 28th by the Los Angeles Lakers.
North Carolina had a year that we all should feel proud to have witnessed. Just about every athletic team played at the highest levels all year long, and it has truly been fun to watch. Here’s hoping for an even more successful 2017-18 school year.