A list of recent sports dynasties would certainly include Joe Montana’s 49ers, Magic Johnson’s Lakers and hockey’s Montreal Canadiens. All of these teams would be hard-pressed to demonstrate the type of dominance of their leagues that Williams College is currently enjoying in the realm of Division III sports.
In June, the National Association of Collegiate Directors of America (NACDA) and Sears announced that the College had won the Sears Cup for the fifth time in the six-year history of the award. A $35,000 Waterford Crystal Cup is awarded annually to the top athletic program in NCAA Divisions I, II and III and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
“I’m proud of our student-athletes and coaches for this great accomplishment and am especially pleased that it comes while Williams continues also to receive the highest academic ratings in the country,” said Morty Schapiro, president of the College.
Three months later, the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) confirmed that sentiment by awarding Williams the 2001 ECAC Jostens Institution of the Year. The honor is presented each year to the school which best exemplifies the highest standards of collegiate academics and athletic performance.
Williams won the first Jostens Award ever presented in 1995 and claimed the award again in 1999. No other school has won it more than twice. Princeton University won the award in 1996 and 1998.
Among others competing for this year’s award were schools from the Atlantic 10, the Big East, the Ivy League, NESCAC, Duke University and Penn State.
“This award confirms our belief that the balance between academics and athletics at Williams is among the best in the nation,” said Harry Sheehy, director of athletics. “We are delighted that our student-athletes continue to achieve excellence in both arenas.”
Leading the athletic charge for Williams were the men’s and women’s tennis teams. Both teams won national championships at the end of last year. Seven other Eph teams were in the top 10 in the nation: women’s cross country (second), women’s swimming and diving (third), women’s indoor track and field (third), men’s soccer (fifth), men’s cross country (fifth), field hockey (fifth) and men’s outdoor track and field (seventh).
Men’s swimming and diving, skiing, baseball and men’s golf also contributed strong performances. Fantastic seasons by men’s and women’s squash and women’s hockey did not count toward the Sears Cup, as their championships are not sponsored by the NCAA. The elite women’s crew team was not able to contribute last year to the Sears Cup, but will look to this year as the NCAA introduces a Division III championship.
Other NESCAC schools in the top 25 of the Sears Cup standings were Middlebury (second), Amherst (14th) and Tufts (23rd, tie).