July 3, 2003
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - The Western Kentucky University Department of Athletics recorded its highest finish ever in the NACDA (National Association of Collegiate Athletic Directors) Directors' Cup standings during the 2002-03 academic year, finishing among the top 100 NCAA Division I schools in the nation.
WKU placed 99th out of 318 eligible institutions with a school-record 175 points, ranking second among both Sun Belt Conference schools as well as institutions in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Eighty-four percent (268 schools) of the teams eligible for the Directors' Cup scored points in the competition.
"Western athletics enjoyed a phenomenal year, headlined by our first-ever national championship," said Dr. Wood Selig, WKU Director of Athletics. "For the third straight year, football and both basketball programs participated in NCAA postseason play - not many schools in the country can claim that high level of consistency among those three particular programs. But we also enjoyed great seasons in most programs."
In addition to the Hilltopper football team's 34-14 victory over top-seeded McNeese State in the NCAA Division I-AA national championship game, WKU also had the volleyball and both basketball teams advance to the NCAA Tournament. Olga Cronin participated in the NCAA Championships in women's cross country while Gord Veldman qualified in men's swimming and Kristo Galeta advanced in outdoor track and field.
With eight total Sun Belt Conference titles (regular season and tournament), Western claimed its second consecutive Vic Bubas Cup All-Sports Award, given to the program which displays overall excellence among the league's 11 schools.
"We are grateful for our dynamic coaches and proud of our over achieving group of 370 student-athletes. Our teams won four conference regular season and five tournament championships," Selig said. "Five head coaches won six coach-of-the-year honors - almost half of our coaching staff. As we have seen, if we compete at the top of our conferences, we can be a national player.
"We finished among the top 30 percent of all Division I athletic programs. We certainly outperformed dozens of programs with greater resources and larger facilities. With the commitment we are continuing to make for all of our athletic programs and student-athletes, I look forward to making further strides toward the top of the athletic pack."