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The 1995-96 University of Florida Athletic Year in Review

University of Florida Athletics Program Ranks Among Nation's Elite

On the strength of 10 top-10 national finishes, highlighted by a national title by the women's tennis team, the University of Florida athletic program finished third in the 1995-96 Sears Directors' Cup national all-sports competition. The third-place finish is the best in school history.

Florida has now ranked among the nation's five best collegiate athletic programs for seven consecutive years and among the nation's top 10 for 13 straight years. Florida and UCLA are the only schools to finish in the top 10 in national all-sports rankings every year since 1983-84, while Florida, UCLA and Stanford are the only schools in the nation to finish in the top five in the nation over the past seven years.

The Director's Cup program, conducted by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics and sponsored by Sears, annually recognizes the schools with the best overall sports performances in an academic year.

The all-sports champion is determined by points awarded for an institution's finish in up to 22 sports. Fielding 17 teams, Florida still finished third in the rankings with 731.5 points. Stanford captured the all-sports trophy with 961.5 points, while UCLA was runner-up with 836 points.

In addition to the women's NCAA tennis title, nine other UF teams finished in the top 10 of their respective sports in 1995-96: football (2nd), baseball (T3rd), women's indoor track & field (T4th), volleyball (T5th), men's golf (T6th), women's swimming & diving (7th), gymnastics (8th), women's golf (9th), men's swimming and diving (10th).

The Gators also captured five Southeastern Conference Championships in 1995-96 (football, volleyball, baseball, women's tennis, women's swimming & diving) and for an unprecedented third time Florida completed a sweep of all three SEC All-Sports titles, capturing the 1995-96 overall title as well as finishing first in the men's and women's all-sports competition. Prior to 1992, no school in SEC history had ever won both the men's and the women's all-sports titles in the same academic year. Florida became the first in 1992, repeated the feat in 1993 and now accomplished it again in 1996. The 1995-96 academic year marked the eighth time in the past nine years that the Florida athletic program has captured the SEC combined all-sports title.

Florida was equally successful away from the athletic arena in 1995-96, as 73 student-athletes were named to the Southeastern Conference's Academic Honor Roll. Florida has now had 289 Academic Honor Roll recipients over the last four years - the best four-year total in UF and SEC history. Since 1980-81, UF student-athletes have accumulated 727 SEC Academic Honor Roll honors, the top total in the SEC during that time span.

In addition, in an era when the NCAA estimates 70 percent of Division I schools are losing money on intercollegiate athletics, the Gator athletic program continued to have an impact in regard to University academic programs. Since 1988, the University Athletic Association has now contributed more than $10.5 million to the University to fund academic endeavors.

Florida's athletic program also serves as a focal point for the surrounding community and beyond, as more than four million fans have filed through the gates to attend UF sporting events over the five years. More than 800,000 fans attended 149 home events in Gainesville in 1995-96.

In addition, the "Goodwill Gators" - a program where UF student-athletes, coaches and administrators take part in community-related endeavors, while visiting schools and hospital - was honored with a White House Commendation for Volunteerism.

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