The 2012-2013 athletic year was something of a mixed bag for the University of Virginia, which got to enjoy a long-awaited NCAA men’s tennis championship but dropped to 20th in all-sports Directors’ Cup competition – its lowest finish since 2006.
In fact, it wasn’t very long ago that Virginia finished three straight school years (2009-2011) in the Directors’ Cup top 10, including a third-place finish in 2010. UVa was 15th in 2011, when it captured its first NCAA women’s rowing title.
The men’s tennis and women’s rowing teams were among the five UVa squads that won ACC championships in 2012-2013, including two for men’s and women’s swimming coach Mark Bernardino, who resigned June 1, apparently as the result of a disagreement with his bosses.
Following are the Doughty rankings, an annual attempt to rate the comparative wellbeing of the UVa programs. Directors’ Cup points and ACC titles are two of the main considerations, given the goal of 70 championships in 10 years that UVa laid out as part of a strategic plan 2002.
Virginia didn’t average the seven ACC titles per year that would have been required. In fact, only once (2009-2010) did the Cavaliers reach seven in one year, but they did have six on three other occasions.
Over the 10-years, 2002-2012, Virginia won an ACC-high 51 conference championships, compared to 39 for Florida State, 35 for Duke and 31 for North Carolina.
Here are this year’s rankings:
1, MEN’S TENNIS – No-brainer here after Brian Boland’s first NCAA title. Not sure dropping men’s tennis to No. 2 last year was the right decision. The Cavaliers have made it to four straight NCAA finals and have the talent returning for a possible repeat. Boland has won seven straight ACC titles and 106 consecutive dual matches against ACC competition. (2012 ranking: 2).
2. ROWING – Virginia dropped from first to fifth in the NCAA championships, but that made for seven straight top-six finishes after coach Kevin Sauer’s fourth consecutive ACC title and 13th in 14 tries. (2012 ranking: 1).
3. BASEBALL – The Cavaliers have appeared in the NCAA Tournament in each of Brian O’Connor’s 10 seasons as UVa coach. At 50-12, Virginia posted its third winning 50-win season in four years. Losing both games to Mississippi State in the Charlottesville SuperRegional was a letdown, but the Cavaliers have the potential to be better in 2014. (2012 ranking: 4).
4. SWIMMING – The departure of Bernardino raises some major questions about the long-term future of men’s and women’s swimming. However, he has left a strong foundation and even in an off year at the NCAA, his men’s and swimming teams produced a combined 102 Directors’ Cup points, which was more than men’s tennis. Under new coach Augie Busch, they have better prospects for 2014 ACC titles than all but men’s tennis or rowing. (2012 ranking: 3).
5. MEN’S LACROSSE – Let me preface this by saying I’m skeptical upon hearing from cohorts that Virginia could win an NCAA title this coming season after not making the NCAA field in 2013, but these are people who are knowledgeable about the program. Coach Dom Starsia has won four NCAA championships, occasionally as an underdog, and usually puts up Directors’ Cup points, but UVa has won one ACC title since 2006 and that’s one of the department’s declared missions. (2012 ranking: 5).
6. MEN’S BASKETBALL – It’s been 37 years since Virginia’s last ACC championship and nobody’s really thought of the Cavaliers as a threat since the early to mid-1980s. For the most part, the talent hasn’t been there. This year, it is. At the very least, UVa should make the NCAA Tournament this year, which would mark the second time since 2007. The Cavs have won 45 games the past two seasons. (2012 ranking: 10).
7. WOMEN’S SOCCER – The Cavaliers are coming off an ACC championship, coach Steve Swanson’s second, and were ranked as high as No. 3 in the country at one point before losing at home to Duke in the NCAA quarterfinals. National-team player Morgan Brian, a junior, is one of the top players in the country. In 13 seasons, Swanson has never made the Final Four but he has never failed to make the NCAA field. (2012 ranking: 11).
8. WOMEN’S GOLF – After back-to-back fourth-place finishes in the NCAA Tournament, the Cavaliers did not advance past the regionals in 2012. It was the first time in coach Kim Lewellen’s six seasons that they did not reach the NCAA Championships and now they’ve got to replace All-American and ACC individual champion Brittany Altomare. Have to remember Lewellen is only season removed from the second of consecutive top-four NCAA finishes. (2012 ranking: 6).
9. FIELD HOCKEY – If not for the absence of Paige Selenski and Michelle Vittese to play for the 2012 Olympic team, coach Michele Madison would be 7-for-7 in NCAA Tournament appearances. With Selenski and Vittese, the Cavaliers didn’t get past the second round last year and now those two are gone. This is a program with Final Fours in its recent past but the Cavaliers are a preseason sixth-place choice in the ACC this year.. (2012 ranking: 7).
10. WOMEN’S TENNIS – Arguably Virginia’s fastest-rising program. This team had a legitimate chance to win the ACC championship last year before losing to Florida State 4-3 in the conference semifinals. The team reached the Round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year and has made seven NCAA appearances in eight years under Mark Guilbeau, who has been recruiting at a high level. (2012 ranking: 13).
11. MEN’S GOLF – Like the women, the UVa men received a bid to the NCAA Tournament but did not get past the regionals. Ben Rusch, the 2011 ACC champion, returns after redshirting this past season. Denny McCarthy, who tied for second at the regionals and finished 22nd at the nationals, should bolster a program still looking for its first conference crown. (2012 ranking: 8).
12. MEN’S SOCCER – This program is a lot like women’s lacrosse in that it has won a national championship – six of them, in fact – but has been bounced in the first or second round of the past three NCAA Tournaments. The Cavaliers have made 17 straight NCAA Tournament appearances under George Gelnovatch but ACC men’s soccer gets even tougher with the addition of preseason Top 25 teams from Notre Dame, Syracuse and Louisville (not elighible till 2014). Cavs are a preseason choice for fifth in the conference. (2012 ranking: 12).
13. WRESTLING – Steve Garland, one of three alumni coaches (with Gelnovatch and Julie Myers) now that Mark Bernardino and Eileen Schmidt have resigned, can lay claim to a Top 25 program after finishing 21st at the NCAA championships. Only nine UVa programs scored more Directors’ Cup points last year but the Cavaliers let an ACC title slide through their grasp. (2012 ranking 16)
14. WOMEN’S BASKETBALL – Joanne Boyle hasn’t reached the NCAA Tournament with either of her first two teams and wins dropped from 25 in 2011 to 16 in 2012, when the injury-plagued Cavaliers lost six of their last seven games and eight of their last 10. There are indications that Boyle has recruited well, but the proof will be in the record. (2012 ranking: 14).
15. WOMEN’S LACROSSE – Maybe the Cavaliers haven’t returned to their 2012 national-championship form but they’ve reached the NCAA Tournament 18 times in coach Julie Myers’ 18 seasons. However, they were 7-8 at one time and that’s nothing to brag about. However, Myers did have the nation’s No. 3-rated recruiting class. (2012 ranking: 15).
16. FOOTBALL – The Cavaliers’ 4-8 record last year was their second in three seasons under Mike London and it will be difficult to get back to .500 this year against a schedule that includes bowl teams BYU and Oregon in the first two weeks. With eight home games, it will be difficult to keep fans happy without some wins, but a revamped staff could improve that situation. Stakes and countrywide commitment here are much higher here than with any other sport. (2012 year’s ranking: 9).
17. CROSS COUNTRY – The UVa men finished 14th in the NCAA championships last year, with fifth-year graduate students Zach Gates and Mark Amirault finishing 1-2 for the Cavs after transferring from other schools. The best finisher for the women was sixth-year Catherine White, another former transfer. The men were second at the ACC meet and the women were sixth. (2012 ranking: 17).
18. TRACK AND FIELD – Between the men’s and women’s outdoor and indoor teams, track and field presents the opportunity to score Directors’ Cup points in four sports. Last year, UVa went scoreless despite a growing commitment to staffing and facilities. The loss of 2012 ACC shotput and discus champion Nick Vena, who transferred to Georgia after his freshman season, was a setback. (2012 ranking: 18).
19. VOLLEYBALL – There is hope for the future in second-year head coach Dennis Hohenselt, whose first UVa team finished 9-22 (3-17 in the ACC) after predecessor Lee Maes had gone 10-20 (4-16 ACC) in his final season. Hohenselt’s first full recruiting class has been ranked No. 12 in the country. (2012 ranking: 19)
20. SOFTBALL – With the resignation of Eileen Schmidt after a 21-28 season, the program is now in the hands of Blake Miller, formerly the top aide at the University of Oregon. Facilities are a major issue with this program, which was unable to prosper despite having the all-time school leader in wins and strikeouts, Melanie Mitchell. (2012 ranking: 20).