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Sooner Athletics - Thu, Jun. 8, 2017

CLEVELAND – Oklahoma City University's four national championships won in 2016-17 propelled a first-place finish in the Directors' Cup NAIA standings for the first time ever.

Points in the Director's Cup standings are awarded based on each institution's finish in up to 12 NAIA-sponsored sports, six men's and six women's. Two Sooner Athletic Conference institutions made the top five for the fourth consecutive year.

The SAC and Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference were the only conferences with two schools in the top 10. Wayland Baptist finished fourth in the standings. Texas Wesleyan (56th), Bacone (83rd) and USAO (94) turned in top-100 finishes.

The Stars took national titles in women's basketball, competitive cheerleading, women's golf and softball. Oklahoma City owns 66 national championships in all sports.

OCU won four national crowns in one school year for the third time in school history. The Stars collected five national titles each for three consecutive years in 2011-14. OCU has taken at least one national title per year for 24 years dating back to 1993-94.

The Stars have finished runner-up in the Directors' Cup standings four times in 2000-01, 2001-02, 2013-14 and 2015-16. OCU finished in the top 10 for the fifth consecutive year. Since 1996-97, OCU has posted 16 top-10 finishes. Over the past 20 years, OCU has finished no lower than 13th in the Directors' Cup standings.

In 2016-17, OCU had top-five national finishes in women's basketball, competitive cheerleading, women's golf, softball, women's indoor track & field (runner-up), baseball (tied for third), women's cross country (fifth) and competitive pom & dance (fifth). The Stars tallied 982 points to finish 177 points ahead of runner-up Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), which won the 2015-16 Directors' Cup.

The Stars also achieved in the classroom with a 3.010 combined grade-point average in 2016-17, marking 15 years in a row OCU has been above a 3.0.

"This is a fitting end to what has been an historic year for Oklahoma City University athletics," Oklahoma City athletic director Jim Abbott said. "This award signifies the overall success of our department and is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our student-athletes, coaches and administration. At OCU, we value every sport equally and have the same high expectations for each team. The heights that our teams reach are remarkable. Oklahomans are known for their character, grit, and determination – all factors that lead to success in life and athletics. We are proud to bring this honor back to OCU and our great state."

Wayland Baptist finished fourth in the final Learfield Directors' Cup standings, marking the fourth straight year WBU has placed in the top six athletic programs in the NAIA.

Wayland was in fifth place when the spring season's first standings were released but jumped a spot after winning the women's outdoor track and field title, which secured a maximum 100 points. The men's track and field team finished sixth and added 73½ points. Wayland stood in 36th place in the final fall standings, third in the first set of winter standings, and eighth in the final set of winter standings.

Last fall, Wayland earned points for placing in women's cross country (12th), men's soccer (17th) and volleyball (33rd). Wayland then scored in six of the seven winter championships, including three top-six finishes – third in women's indoor track and field, fifth in men's indoor track and field, and sixth in men's swimming and diving. Wayland also scored in women's basketball (17th), women's swimming and diving (19th), and men's wrestling (33rd).

This spring, besides the women's first-place finish and men's sixth-place finish in outdoor track and field, Wayland placed seventh in men's golf.

"This is an incredible achievement for the university and the athletics department, and specifically for all of the student-athletes and coaches who worked so hard to achieve it," Wayland Director of Athletics Rick Cooper said. "The fact that we've been able to remain so close to the top for that many years is a testament to the dedication of our student-athletes and coaching staffs, as well as all of Wayland's faculty and staff. We will strive to stay at this high level, and our goal is to improve even more."