KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)— The final Learfield IMG College Directors' Cup standings for 2018-19 were released Thursday, and Tennessee posted its highest finish in eight years, landing at No. 25.
Tennessee's finish this year was eighth-best among Southeastern Conference schools after landing at 12th in 2016-17 and 11th a year ago.
This year's finish is a vast improvement from Tennessee's 46th-place finish in 2016-17 and UT's best final placement since 2010-11 (22nd). UT finished 35th in last year's standings and has steadily ascended over the last two years.
Tennessee is one of only four schools among top-50 finishers that has improved its Directors' Cup placement by at least 20 spots over the last two years (joining Texas Tech, Arizona State and Duke) and one of only two SEC schools to have posted a double-digit improvement during that span (joining Vanderbilt).
Tennessee joined Florida State and Louisville as one of only three Division I schools that earned NCAA Tournament berths in men's and women's basketball, volleyball, soccer, baseball and softball during the 2018-19 academic year.
A complete breakdown of Tennessee's 2018-19 scoring contributions follows.
Women's Soccer – 73 points
Tennessee's highest-scoring sport in this year's Directors' Cup standings, the Vol soccer team made its farthest postseason run in program history, advancing to the quarterfinals as a No. 2 national seed. Tennessee's final 16-3-3 record was good for the program's highest winning percentage (.795) and fewest losses (3) in a single season.
Women's Volleyball – 50 points
In Eve Rackham's first season as head coach of the Tennessee volleyball program, the Lady Vols returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in eight years and advanced to the second round. The 2018 season saw Tennessee increase its win total from the previous season by 14 wins overall and 11 wins in conference play. UT finished second in the SEC, an eight-place jump in the conference standings.
Men's Cross Country – 27 points
The men's cross country team put together one of its best seasons in more than a decade, finishing fourth at the SEC Championships and third at the NCAA South Region Championships, one spot away from making nationals as a team. Senior Zach Long finished second at the NCAA South Region meet and qualified as an individual for the NCAA Championships, finishing 204th. Karl Thiessen earned SEC All-Freshman honors, taking 16th at SECs and NCAA Regionals.
Women's Swimming & Diving – 70.5 points
The women's swimming and diving team finished eighth overall at the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships, with the 200 Medley Relay team of Madeline Banic, Meghan Small, Nikol Popov and Erika Brown bringing home a national title. The team earned 25 All-America honors in total.
Men's Swimming & Diving – 65.3 points
The men's swimming and diving team finished 11th at the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships for the second consecutive year. Senior Colin Zeng took home a national title on the 1-meter springboard, while Tennessee finished with a total of 19 All-America honors.
Men's Basketball – 64 points
In one of the best seasons in program history, the men's basketball team spent an entire month of the season ranked No. 1 in the nation and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the eighth time in program history. Led by 2019 SEC Player of the Year and first-team All-American Grant Williams, first-team All-SEC selection Admiral Schofield and second-team honoree Jordan Bone, the Vols tied a program record with 31 wins and earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the third time ever.
Women's Indoor Track & Field – 50.5 points
Three Lady Vols made their way to the podium with top-eight finishes at the NCAA Championships, as Tennessee tied for 21st place on the team leaderboard with 10 points. LaChyna Roe and Alonie Sutton took fourth and seventh place, respectively, in the women's triple jump competition, while Stamatia Scarvelis posted a sixth-place finish in the weight throw. Scarvelis posted a top-10 mark in NCAA history at the SEC Championships, as her sixth and final heave of 24.06m (78-11.75) was the No. 7 mark in collegiate history to win gold at the conference meet. Maia McCoy also stood out for the Lady Vols with bronze-medal performances in the 60m and 200m dashes – the only athlete in the SEC (male or female) to medal in both of those events.
Men's Indoor Track & Field – 37.5 points
Tennessee's men's indoor track and field team finished 35th at the NCAA Indoor Championships with seven points, as junior high jumper Darryl Sullivan cleared a lifetime-best mark of 2.26m (7-5) to tie for second place overall. At the SEC Indoor Championships, the Vols finished sixth in the team standings with 50 points – notching the program's highest finish and point total since 2009. Mustaqeem Williams took home a gold medal in the men's 200m dash, while Zach Long (3,000m) and Joseph Maxwell (shot put) each claimed bronze in their respective events.
Women's Basketball – 25 points
The women's basketball team made the NCAA Tournament for a 38th consecutive season and rose as high as No. 9 in the AP Poll during the 2018-19 campaign. Sophomore Rennia Davis was tabbed second-team All-SEC, while Zaay Green was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team.
Softball – 64
The softball program posted a 17th consecutive season of 40-plus wins and advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals for the seventh time in the past eight years. The Lady Vols' second-place SEC finish was the highest for the program since 2014. Senior infielder Aubrey Leach was tabbed first-team All-American by Softball America.
Men's Tennis – 64 points
The men's tennis team finished the season 13th in both the ITA and USTA polls, while advancing to the NCAA Tournament round of 16 for the first time since 2014. Seniors Timo Stodder and Preston Touliatos advanced to the semifinal round of the NCAA doubles championships, becoming the first doubles pair to reach the semifinals in five years.
Baseball – 50
In Tony Vitello's second season at the helm of the Tennessee baseball program, the Vols made their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2005. Tennessee's 40 wins on the season were the most for the program in 14 years. The Vols finished the season with 10 shutout wins, which tied a program record.
Women's Golf – 50 points
The women's golf team qualified for the NCAA Championships for the 12th time under head coach Judi Pavon, advancing out of the NCAA Regionals with a sixth-place finish. The Lady Vols finished in the top six in eight tournaments, with a pair of victories at the Starmount Classic in October and the Florida Atlantic Winter Warm Up in February. Michaela Williams' 14 rounds of par or better tied for the sixth-most in a single season in school history.
Women's Tennis – 50 points
Alison Ojeda's third season as the head coach of the Tennessee women's tennis program saw the Lady Vols record their best regular-season win total in 16 years and advance to a third straight NCAA Tournament. Over the course of the season, UT defeated four top-25 teams. Individually, Sadie Hammond and Kaitlin Staines became the program's first All-Americans since 2013.
Men's Golf – 40.5 points
In Brennan Webb's first season as head coach, the Tennessee men's golf team won a program-record-tying three tournaments and had its highest NCAA Regional finish since 2012. Redshirt sophomore Hunter Wolcott rounded out the season with a 71.91 stroke average — the fourth-best individual single-season mark in program history.
Men's Outdoor Track & Field – 11.5 points
During the men's outdoor track and field season, the Vols claimed three All-America citations at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, highlighted by an eighth-place finish from Mustaqeem Williams in the 200-meter dash for first-team honors. Joseph Maxwell (shot put) and Georgios Korakidis(weight throw) earned second-team acclaim. Tennessee finished seventh in the team standings at the SEC Championships with 68 points – the highest total for the Vols since 2008. Williams (100m and 200m), Alex Crigger (steeplechase), Maxwell (shot put), Darryl Sullivan (high jump) and Jalen Tate (triple jump) all claimed All-SEC honors with top-three results in their respective events.
Women's Outdoor Track & Field – 5 points
Eight Lady Vols earned All-America status at the national championships during the outdoor track and field season, headlined by Stamatia Scarvelis' eighth-place outing in the women's hammer throw. Tennessee additionally claimed second-team All-America accolades in the triple jump (LaChyna Roe, Alonie Sutton), 100m hurdles (Alexis Duncan) and women's 4x400-meter relay (Layla White, Brooklynn Broadwater, Martina Weil and Lenysse Dyer). Scarvelis won the SEC Commissioner's Trophy, designated for the highest point-scorer at the conference meet. The senior captain tallied 23 points with an SEC title in the hammer, second-place finish in the discus and fourth-place result in the shot put.