Chico State athletics place 6th in Directors’ Cup

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Chico State athletic director Anita Barker led the department to sixth place in the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup Standings. Photo courtesy Chico Wildcats

Most people in the area know that Chico State has a good athletic program, but they may not have known just how good. Until now, that is.

After 10 out of 13 Wildcat teams reached NCAA postseason berths, the Chico State athletic department placed sixth in June out of 246 Division II teams in the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings, its best finish ever.

The scoring for the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup is determined by using up to 14 sports that are nominated by the school. Chico State nominated its 13 intercollegiate sports programs, and the highest-scoring sport was men’s golf. The team earned 82.5 points after a third-place finish in the national championships early this past summer. Overall, the Wildcats set a department record of 625 points and used the most of their 13 sports to place sixth.

Athletic Director Anita Barker credits much of the success of the department to the leadership during the late 1990s. During this time, the current president of Chico State and the previous athletic director made the decision to move into the California Collegiate Athletic Association.

“A couple of big decisions were made,” Barker said. “One was to move us into that conference so we could start to offer athletic scholarships because we have never before then. The other decision that was important was to keep a balance among all of our programs.”

If you were to ask any of the coaches or athletes about success, they would say it’s because they all want to have that opportunity to compete at the biggest level, Barker said.

Chico State men's track and field coach Oliver Hanf led a track and field program that helped the department reach sixth in the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup standings. Photo courtesy Chico Wildcats.

The community between staff, faculty and student athletes is something that has helped the department be so consistent and successful, said Oliver Hanf, the men’s track and field coach.

“We talk about being your best in all facets of life; not just about school being a priority or sports being a priority, but being great and doing your best,” Hanf said. “I don’t know if there is one key ingredient to it all, but it’s all the different components to Chico’s coaching staff embracing and being committed to improving across the board.”

Jordan Semple, senior men's basketball forward. Photo courtesy Chico Wildcats

Senior men’s basketball forward Jordan Semple said he felt that giving support to the other teams was key to keeping the culture of success going. He pointed out that the Wildcats just completed their fourth consecutive Commissioner’s Cup win, a CCAA award given to the top-performing athletic department.

“If you don’t get that conference win, then you really can’t win the Directors’ Cup,” Semple said. “Since now we have started this new era of winning the Directors’ Cup, we want to keep the culture going and strive to improve.”

Among the coaches and athletes alike, all said the culture of being good student athletes was very important.

In order to be so consistent as a department, they must implement a culture of wanting to do that, Barker said.

“I think that it takes a culture and expectation by the whole program,” Barker said. “And with that we really try to align it with what the institution is doing as far as coming in, being successful academically and athletically, and you know, putting your best effort forward.”

Chance Keenan can be reached at [email protected] or @chancelikelance on Twitter.