The conference also announced that Hilltopper swimmer Karl Swanson was selected the league’s male Student-Athlete of the Year, and that WKU will host a pair of conference championships during the 2008-09 academic year.
Hilltopper Athletics claimed the Bubas Cup by virtue of its league-best seven championships, matching the highest total ever posted — former conference member South Florida first accomplished the feat in 1989-90 and South Alabama turned the trick during the ’93-94 academic year. WKU took an early lead in the race with titles in men’s cross country and volleyball, adding championships in men’s swimming and diving, women’s indoor track and women’s basketball in the winter. Hilltopper golf and Lady Topper outdoor track and field earned the league crown to close out the year.
It was WKU’s first SBC championships in both indoor and outdoor track as well as golf.
Women’s cross country and men’s basketball — which won the East Division title during the regular season — each finished second in the standings while women’s swimming and diving and softball placed third. In all, 14 of the school’s 20 sports finished in the top half of the standings.
“I’m thrilled with the success that our student-athletes and coaches exhibited in winning a league-record-tying seven championships,” WKU Director of Athletics Dr. Wood Selig said. “I think that it’s significant that of the 18 sports we compete in, half finished first or second in the standings. The Bubas Cup is the truest measure of the overall vibrancy of an athletic department, so it is very gratifying to be recognized as the best comprehensive program in our 11-member league despite not playing Division I-A football.
“I appreciate the dedication and commitment of the 300-plus student-athletes and coaching staffs who represented our 18 programs in accomplishing this feat.”
Points for the Bubas Cup are determined by each school’s regular-season finish in football, soccer, baseball and softball. Volleyball and basketball points are based on a combination of divisional and tournament finishes. All other sports are determined by their tournament performances.
WKU has claimed the Bubas Cup in three of the last five years, and has won the league’s all-sports trophy on four occasions. Only USA (10) and USF (nine) have won more championships.
Swanson, a senior from Bowling Green, Ky., won three individual events at this year’s Sun Belt Championships — the 500-yard Freestyle, 1,650-yard Free and 400-yard Individual Medley — while handling a leg on the victorious 800-yard Free Relay. His efforts helped the Hilltoppers claim the title for the second time in as many years since the conference began sponsoring the sport.
“I am very honored to win this award. I would like to thank my coaches and all the athletic staff for this nomination as well as the hard work they put in every day in order to give a student-athlete from Western Kentucky a chance to become Athlete of the Year,” said Swanson. “Receiving this award means a lot to me. It is a great accomplishment, I am glad to see that all my hard work in both the classroom and the pool has paid off.”
The league also announced that WKU will play host to the 2008 cross country championships on Oct. 25 and will also serve as host of the 2009 men’s and women’s swimming championships from Feb. 21-23 in Nashville. It will be the second straight year that the school will play host to the swimming and diving championships.