Williams tops athletics among Div. III schools

Months before the College was named the number-one liberal arts college in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, it received another prestigious honor. Williams was named the recipient of the Div. III National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Directors Cup, an annual distinction awarded to the Div. III college with the best athletic program in the United States.

This is the seventh time in eight years and the fifth year in a row that the College has been recognized with this honor.

Williams came in at the top of the 424-college field with a staggering 1,158.25 points. That tally, the largest in the College’s history, was a more-than-comfortable 379.5 points ahead of runner-up Emory and 156.25 points ahead of the combined score of the only other two NESCAC schools – Amherst (11th – 502.5) and Middlebury (12th – 499.5) – to finish within the top 25.

Though the role of athletics on campus has been under the microscope recently, President Schapiro was quick to praise the accomplishments of the student-athletes.

“Our athletic success is something to be lauded throughout the community,” he said. “Not only is it the case that life on the playing fields can be a wonderful source of learning for those participating, but it also brings many more of us together in a wonderful way.”

Harry Sheehy, director of athletics, is the man responsible for accepting the Directors Cup annually and also has the troublesome task of finding a place to put each successive year’s trophy.

“I’m thrilled that our athletic department is being recognized again as one of the leaders in excellence and we’re very proud to have our excellence in the athletic arena matched up with the already outstanding name of Williams academics,” Sheehy said. “It’s exciting for us in the athletic department to help spread the word nationally of the overall excellence of Williams College.”

Over the course of the 2002–2003 academic year, the Ephs fielded two national championship teams – women’s cross country in the fall season and men’s basketball in the winter. Two others, men’s tennis and women’s swimming and diving, came in with second place finishes while another pair, women’s tennis and women’s indoor track and field, brought home the bronze.

At the same time, President Schapiro called attention to the ways that the College’s athletic and academic commitments do not conflict with one another.

“Our continued success in athletics is particularly noteworthy in light of the steps we have been taking to ensure that our program is true to the founding principle of NESCAC – that our athletes are broadly representative of the student body,” Schapiro said. “With our ability to take advantage of having unsurpassed reputations in both athletics and academics, future prospects look exceedingly bright.”

Indeed, the numbers don’t lie. With the number-one ranking in U.S. News and World Report as well as Div. III athletics – you could have gone to Amherst, but why would you want to?