CANYON – Culminating the best season in school history, West Texas A&M finished as runner-up in the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup for the 2013-14 season, while also setting a new standard for academic performance by the Buffs and Lady Buffs.
Capped by a National Championship in softball, WT scored a school-record 708 points in the Directors’ Cup to finish second behind Grand Valley State, who won the title for the ninth time in 11 years. Prior to this season, WT had not finished higher than 22nd for a single season in the Directors’ Cup. WT earned points in 12 of the maximum 14 sports which also was a school-record.
The Directors' Cup is awarded annually to the top school in each of the NCAA's three levels of membership (Division I, Division II and Division III) based on the overall success of all athletic programs at the school. It was developed as a joint effort between the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and USA Today. Points are awarded based on each institution's finish in up to 14 sports – seven women's and seven men's.
Academically, WT student-athletes earned a cumulative grade-point average of 2.96 over the fall and spring terms, shattering the previous record of a 2.83 set in 2012-13. New academic marks have been set each of the past four seasons as 11 of 15 teams earned a 3.0 GPA or better.
The Buffs had nine teams finish in the top 20 nationally highlighted by softball, which won its first national championship and finished No. 1. Women’s basketball was national runner-up and finished second, while volleyball finished fourth and football finished eighth.
The magical season for softball culminated with the program’s first national championship, second consecutive for the department (2013 Equestrian) and the first in a NCAA sport since 1997 (Volleyball). The softball team won a school-record 60 games and became just the fourth NCAA Division II school to win a national championship and 60 games in the same season.
The baseball team earned its first trip to the NCAA Tournament with a school-record 37-21 record, while the women’s basketball team made its second trip to the NCAA Championship game with a 32-3 record. Though not a sanctioned NCAA sport, the Lady Buff equestrian team finished fifth nationally this season.
Three of nine teams finished in the top 10 in attendance as softball was second nationally, volleyball was fourth and football was eighth. WT won Lone Star Conference championships in volleyball, men’s cross country, women’s cross country, men’s indoor track & field, women’s indoor track & field, women’s basketball and the regular season for softball.
On a national level, the athletic department had 29 All-Americans with softball junior Renee Erwin being named the Ron Lenz Daktronics Division II National Player of the Year. WT had five Academic All-Americans for the year. Quarterback Dustin Vaughan was named a National Football Foundation National Scholar Athlete and Harlon Hill Runner-Up, while women’s track and field standouts Emma Love (cross country) and Bri Leeper (outdoor track & field) earned the NCAA Elite 89 honor as the top academic student-athletes who advanced to each of their respective championships.
Along with the outstanding play on the field/court and in the classroom, the Buffs had three coaches earn LSC Coach of the Year accolades as Darren Flowers earned the honor for men’s cross country and men’s and women’s indoor track & field, while Mark Kellogg earned the accolade for women’s basketball and Kevin Blaskowski was tabbed the league’s best for softball.
WT won the inaugural First United Bank Highway 287 Challenge Cup Series with Midwestern State, 13-12.
As a department, the Buffs finished with an overall record of 203-66-7 (.748) and an 84-38-2 record in Lone Star Conference play for a .720 clip. Six of the eight team sports had winning records overall and five of the seven in the LSC had winning conference records. Five of the eight made the NCAA Tournament.
The Buffs and Lady Buffs also were visible throughout the Canyon/Amarillo areas as they spent over 5,000 hours of community service throughout the past year, including Snack Pack for Kids, High Plains Food Bank, cleaned at the Ronald McDonald House, Meals on Wheels, participated in the Crestview Eagle-A-Thon, helped update a church in Canyon with new pews and many more.
The 2014-15 season kicks off for the Buffs and Lady Buffs the first week of September.