The national program honors institutions maintaining a broad-based program, achieving success in many sports, both men's and women's.
Loyola University New Orleans improved 78 spots from last year to place 94th in the final 2016-17 Learfield Directors' Cup standings, as announced by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA). The Wolf Pack accumulated the fourth-most points of any Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) representative, which marks an eight-spot increase from 2015-16.
"We're excited about the final Learfield Cup standings. Our improvement is a testament to the hard work of our student-athletes, coaches, and support staff. We look forward to continued success both in the classroom and in competition next season," said Loyola Director of Athletics Brett Simpson.
The jump in the standings for the Wolf Pack in 2016-17 comes as no surprise as Loyola recorded one of its most impressive years in recent memory. The Wolf Pack were most impressive in the winter season, one in which Loyola led the entire SSAC with 143 points in that span.
Loyola's biggest boost in the rankings was due in large part to the phenomenal performances of the swim team in its inaugural season. With head coach TJ Natal at the helm, both the men and women's swim teams qualified for the NAIA National Championship in the program's first year, with both teams combining to earn 93 points (45 men/48 women) for the Learfield Cup.
After becoming the winningest basketball coach in Wolf Pack history and being named Women's Basketball Coach of the Year by both the SSAC and LSWA, head coach Kellie Kennedy led the Wolf Pack women's basketball team to the NAIA DI National Championship for the fourth-straight season to earn Loyola another 25 points in the standings.
Head Coach Stacy Hollowell and the men's basketball team also earned the Wolf Pack 25 points on the national scoreboard after capping off a historic year by becoming the first Loyola men's basketball team to qualify for the NAIA DI National Championship in over 70 years.
Finally, Loyola managed to grab twelve more points in the spring after head coach Nick Dodson and the Wolf Pack sent the program's first relay team and just the second female individual to the NAIA National Championship in May. Leah Banks (SO/Fayetteville, Ga.) made the most of her time on the national stage as the sophomore not only set a school record in the heptathlon (4,534 points) but also became the program's first NAIA All-American after claiming seventh in the event.
The Learfield Directors' Cup was developed by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and USA Today. Schools earn points based on finishes in NAIA Championships in up to 12 sports – six men's and six women's.
Oklahoma City University's two national championships in the winter (baseball and softball) helped propel the Stars to the top of the final leaderboard with 982.0 points, besting second place Lindsey Wilson by an impressive 177 total points.
In the SSAC, William Carey grabbed the No. 5 spot with 656 points after earning points in seven of the eight spring sports. Mobile landed at No. 43 nationally with 369.75 points, with Dalton State (227.5 points), Loyola (155) and Faulkner (130) rounding out the top five for the conference.
Final Standings - Link