1995-96 University of Florida Athletic Year in Review
University of Florida Athletics Program Ranks Among Nation's Elite
On the strength of ten top-10 national finishes, highlighted by a national title by the football team, the University of Florida athletic program finished fifth in the 1996-97 Sears Directors' Cup national all-sports competition.
Florida has now ranked among the nation's five best collegiate athletic programs for eight consecutive years and among the nation's top 10 for 14 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 eight 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 18 teams, Florida still finished fifth in the rankings with 763.0 points. Stanford captured the all-sports trophy with 1084.5 points, while North Carolina was runner-up with 804.0 points.
In addition to the football title, nine other UF teams finished in the top 10 of their respective sports in 1996-97: Women's Tennis (2nd); Volleyball (T3rd); Gymnastics (5th); Women's Indoor Track (5th); Soccer (T5th); Women's Outdoor Track (6th); Women's basketball (T5th); Men's Tennis (T9th); Women's Golf (10th).
The Gators also captured seven Southeastern Conference Championships in 1996-97 (football, soccer, women's tennis, volleyball and all three women's track crowns - cross country, indoor and outdoor) and claimed the SEC All-Sports title for the sixth consecutive time and the eighth time in 10 years. The women's program was the top program in the SEC for the eighth time in the last 14 years. The Gators became the first women's program in conference history to pull off track and field's triple crown and the six SEC titles by the women's program is a seasonal record, bettering the previous best of UF's five women's conference titles in 1991-92. UF's seven total titles is one short of the SEC single-season record which Florida set in 1991-92 with eight crowns.
The University of Florida women's athletics porgram, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this past year, was named the nation's best women's athletics program by Sports Illustrated in April, while the overall program was ranked fifth by that publication.
Florida was equally successful away from the athletic arena in 1996-97, as a record-shattering 94 student-athletes were named to the Southeastern Conference's Academic Honor Roll. The previous record was 74 student-athletes by Florida in 1992-93. Florida has now had 383 Academic Honor Roll recipients over the last five years - the best five-year total in UF and SEC history. Since 1980-81, UF student-athletes have accumulated 821 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 $13.2 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 5.1 million fans have filed through the gates to attend UF sporting events over the six years. More than 825,000 fans attended 150 home events in Gainesville in 1996-97 and five UF athletic teams ranked in the top five nationally in attendance.
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.
1996-97 National All-Sports Rankings
The Sears Director's Cup, presented annually by the nation's athletic directors, recognizes the schools with the best overall sports performances in an academic year. Points are awarded based on finishes in 22 NCAA Division I sports, based on participation. A national championship earns 64 points, second place 63, etc. The University of Florida sponsors 18 sports which can receive points in the Sears Director's Cup.
|2. North Carolina||804.0|
|8. Southern Cal||628.0|
|8. Ohio State||628.0|
UF Annual Finishes in National All-Sports Competition
For 14 consecutive years, the University of Florida has ranked among the nation's top 10 in national all-sports competition.
For each of the last eight years, the Gators have ranked among the nation's five best.
|Academic Year||UF Finish|
1996-97 Southeastern Conference All-Sports Rankings
The University of Florida has ranked as the Southeastern Conference's top overall athletic program for six consecutive years and eight of the past 10 years. The New York Times Regional Newspaper Group took over coordination of the SEC All-Sports rankings in 1994-95. Prior to that, the SEC tabulated the SEC All-Sports totals.
|School||Men's Total||Women's Total||Combined Total||# of Sports||Average|
|6. South Carolina||47.5||54.5||102||15||6.80|
|10. Ole Miss||33||31||64||13||4.92|
|11. Mississippi State||42.5||20||62.5||13||4.81|
|1996-97 Individual National Champions|
|Women's Indoor Track||Becki Wells, mile run|
|Women's Outdoor Track||Becki Wells, 1500 meters|
|Gymnastics||Susan Hines, vault|
|Women's Tennis (Doubles)||Dawn Buth and Stephanie Nickitas|
|1996-97 Gator All-Americans (62)|
|Chrissy Van Fleet||Gymnastics|
1996 Gator Olympians
Coming back to the United States in 1996, the Centennial Olympiad in Atlanta again provided an opportunity for current and former Gators to represent their countries in the Olympics. UF swimmer and Gainesville resident Allison Wagner finished second in the 400-meter individual medley to join Dennis Mitchell (4x100m relay) as UF's top medal winners. Former women's track and field standout Michelle Freeman took home a bronze in the 4x100m relay for Jamaica. In all, the contingent of 20 Gators won three medals in Atlanta, including two silvers and a bronze. Since 1968, 83 Gator student?athletes have represented 16 countries in eight Olympiads and laid claim to 51 medals, including 25 golds.
Keith Brantly (Track & Field / USA)
Carlton Bruner (Swimming / USA)
Greg Burgess (Swimming / USA)
Stephen Clarke (Swimming / Canada)
Nikki Dryden (Swimming / Canada)
Barbara Franco (Swimming / Spain)
Michelle Freeman (Track & Field / Jamaica)
Jesus "Chuy" Gonzalez (Swimming / Mexico)
Jill Hetherington (Tennis / Canada)
Whitney Metzler (Swimming / USA)
Dan Middleman (Track & Field / USA)
Dennis Mitchell (Track & Field / USA)
Mauricio Moreno (Swimming and Diving/Columbia)
Melisa Moses (Diving / USA)
Tom Pukstys (Track & Field / USA)
Stephanie Richardson (Swimming / Canada)
Dionne Rose (Track & Field / Jamaica)
Colleen Rosensteel (Judo / USA)
Allison Wagner (Swimming / USA)
Martin Zubero (Swimming/Spain)
In 1996-97, Florida had a total of 94 Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll selections - shattering the previous SEC and school record of 74 set by Florida in 1992-93.
The Gator's men's program had 46 Academic Honor Roll selections in 1996-97, the best single-year total in UF history. The Florida's men's program now has 415 Academic Honor Roll selections since 1980-81, the second top total in the SEC over that span. With its record-setting 48 Academic Honor Roll selections in 1996-97, the UF's women's program now has 406 Academic Honor Roll honors since 1980-81, the second best total in the conference during that span.
Florida has now had 821 SEC Academic Honor Roll selections overall since 1980, the top total in conference during that span.
Thirteen Gator student-athletes earned selection to regional or national academic teams in 1996-97: GTE Academic All-American: Florida's xxxx GTE Academic All-America recipients in 1996-97 was the second highest total in the nation.
Gator Coaching Staff
Buddy Alexander, Men's Golf
Ron Ballatore, Men's Swimming & Diving
Andy Brandi, Women's Tennis
Doug Brown, Men's Track & Field/Cross Country
Becky Burleigh, Soccer
Billy Donovan, Men's Basketball
Ian Duvenhage, Men's Tennis
Kim Haddow, Women's Golf
Tom Jones, Women's Track & Field/Cross Country
Andy Lopez, Baseball
Judi Markell, Gymnastics
Larry Ray, Softball
Carol Ross, Women's Basketball
Steve Spurrier, Football
Kevin Thornton, Women's Swimming & Diving
Mary Wise, Volleyball
Tom Jones, Outdoor Track and Field
Tom Jones, Indoor Track and Field
Mary Wise, Volleyball
SEC Coach-of-the Year
Becky Burleigh, Soccer
J.J. Clark, Women's Cross Country
Tom Jones, Women's Indoor Track
Tom Jones, Outdoor Track and Field
Judi Markell, Gymnastics
Steve Spurrier, Football
Mary Wise, Volleyball
FOOTBALL - Florida Defeats FSU 52-20 to Win First Gridiron National Championship
Consensus National Champions... Posted a 12-1 overall record, only the second team in school history to win 12 games in a season....Won a fourth consecutive SEC title...Steve Spurrier is SEC Coach of the Year for the fifth time...Set a league record by winning at least eight conference games for the fourth straight year and by winning at least six conference games for a seventh consecutive year... Became the only school in conference history to post a perfect 9-0 record in league play in back-to-back seasons... Stretched SEC unbeaten streak to 22 straight, the third longest win streak in league history...Squad was ranked number one in the polls for a school record 11 weeks over the course of the season, including the final polls after an impressive 52-20 win over Florida State in the Sugar Bowl...Set three SEC records (TDs, points and average points per game) and led the nation in five categories (scoring, TDs, passing TDs, average yards per play and average yards per pass completion)...Defense set a school record with six defensive TDs and tied a NCAA seasonal record with four fumble returns for a TD...Boasted Heisman Trophy Winner and seven All-Americans...A league high 10 Gator players received first-team All-SEC honors...Sixteen Gator players were named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll.
VOLLEYBALL - Gators Volley to Final Four for third time in five years
Posted the program's best winning percentage with a 37-2 (.949) overall record, while advancing to the NCAA Final Four for the third time in the last five years...Only losses of the season came to Hawaii -- eventual national runner-up...Won a program-record 37 consecutive matches...Tied both program records for most wins and fewest losses in a season...Claimed sixth consecutive Southeastern Conference regular season championship and fifth-straight SEC Tournament title...Boasted both the SEC Player of the Year and the SEC Tournament MVP...Also boasted two All-Americans...Mary Wise was voted National Coach-of-the-Year for the second time in her career...Three players earned SEC Academic Honor Roll accolades, while two earned GTE Academic All-America District III honors...Five players earned All-SEC awards and four players earned all-district honors.
MEN'S BASKETBALL - Billy Donovan Gets the Gators Running
First-year coach Billy Donovan surpassed last year's win total despite replacing the entire starting frontcourt and over 50%of the scoring production...Florida set nine school records and 11 arena records...UF ranked 10th nationally in three-pointers per game...UF went from worst to first in the SEC in three-point field goal percentage as UF led the SEC in an offensive category for the first time since 1988-89...Most improved scoring and shooting team in the SEC...Every player on the roster scored more points than they did a year ago and seven of the eight players who saw action a year ago surpassed their career point totals in this season alone...On at least 11 occasions, Florida dressed or played with six scholarship players as the roster was depleted with injuries...Donovan won his SEC debut, vs. No. 22 Arkansas - the first win in school history against the Razorbacks...UF dropped four games at the buzzer, played it close with South Carolina twice and took SEC Western Division Champion Ole Miss to the wire...One player is named third-team All-SEC by the league coaches...A league-record six student-athletes are named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll.
WOMEN'S BASKETBALL - Gators Hoop it Up to the Elite Eight
Finished the season 24-9 and recorded a number of firsts in school history....Reached the Sweet 16, the Elite Eight and the SEC Tournament Championship game for the first time in school history...Ranked seventh in final Associated Press poll & sixth in final USA Today coaches' poll (highest final ranking in either poll)...Received highest national ranking in program history, ranking sixth in the Feb. 24 AP poll...Hosted the NCAA Championship subregional for the first time in school history...Lost to second-seed Old Dominion for right to go to the Final Four...Carol Ross was named the District 9 WBCA Coach-of-the-Year...Won more a school-record nine SEC games..Its third place SEC finish tied the highest league finish in program history with the 1994 team...Won 20 games for the fourth-straight year and the fifth time overall...Made fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance...All-time largest home crowd with 4,906 vs. Alabama, Feb. 16, 1997... Best SEC start in school history, 5-0 record... Set team free throw percentage in a game, sinking 19 of 20 attempts at Mississippi...Boasted the SEC Player of the Year, Wade Trophy winner and the school's first ever first-team Basketball All-American...Had a total of five former players drafted into the ABL and the WNBA.
WOMEN'S SWIMMING & DIVING
Finished 20th with 64 points at the NCAA Championships in head coach Kevin Thornton's first year as head coach...UF has now finished in the top 20 for 16 consecutive seasons...Six athletes earned nine All-America honors and three swimmers placed in the top eight in the NCAAs for the first time in their careers...Took fifth at the Southeastern Conference Championships...Gators won four titles at the SEC Championships (three individual events and one relay)...Gators also posted two runner-up finishes and five third-place finishes at the conference meet...Finished the dual meet season with a 7-5 overall record, 3-2 in the SEC...Four student-athletes are named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll...Three Gators from the 1996-97 team were represented at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta...Eight recruits are signed for the future.
MEN'S SWIMMING & DIVING
Finished 17th with 80 points at the NCAA Championships in head coach Ron Ballatore's first year...Eight athletes earned 20 All-America honors...Two swimmers finished in the top eight nationally....Four relays placed 12th or higher, including the 400 medley relay, which won the consolation final for ninth place overall...Placed fifth at the Southeastern Conference Championships...Finished the dual meet season with a 5-6 overall record, 1-4 in the SEC...Eight times Gators finished among the top eight at the SEC Championships, including a second-place finish in the 800-yard freestyle relay and in the 200-yard freestyle...Four student-athletes are named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll...Three Gators from the 1996-97 team were represented at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta...Twelve recruits are signed for the future, including three Olympians from the 1996 Games in Atlanta.
BASEBALL - Gators Advance to Regional Play for Second Consecutive Season
UF made its second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament for just the fourth time in school history...Made its 16th NCAA postseason appearance overall and finished third in the Atlantic I Regional in Coral Gables, Fla...Posted a 40-24 record, marking the 12th 40-win season in UF history...Finished the year ranked 15th by Baseball America and 20th by Collegiate Baseball...Went 17-13 in Southeastern Conference action and tied for the SEC Eastern Division Championship...Finished third at the SEC Tournament...Faced the nation's seventh toughest schedule...Broke 34 records (team and individual) during the season, including most home runs and grand slams....Started most of the year with five freshmen and sophomores in the starting lineup and underclassmen accounted for 52.8% of all starts...UF set four attendance records in 1997 as 88,539 fans attended 36 home games...Two players earned All-America honors and two earned All-SEC honors....Four players were named Academic All-SEC....One player was selected in the June Amateur Draft.
GYMNASTICS - Florida Vaults Into Best NCAA Finish Since 1985
Qualified for 16th straight NCAA Championship...One of only two teams in the nation to qualify for every possible NCAA Championship...Finished fifth at the NCAA Championships for UF's fifth consecutive top 10 national showing and its best since 1985...Gator gymnast captured first UF individual national title since 1984 (and second overall)..The title was also the 100th NCAA individual title claimed by the UF women's program...Five Gator gymnasts matched the school-record of 10 All-America honors at the 1997 NCAA meet...Upset No. 1 Georgia at the NCAA Southeast Region Championship to earn the automatic berth into the NCAA Championships...Judi Markell was named the NCAA Southeast Region Coach-of-the-Year...Used its then-highest score of the year (196.05) to take runner-up honors at the Southeastern Conference Championships...Second-place finish is the highest league showing for UF since claiming the SEC title in 1989...Markell was named SEC Coach-of-the-Year - her second such honor since 1994...A UF frosh was named to the All-SEC team for the first time since 1987...Two Gators claimed five all-around titles and one Gator posted a perfect 10.0 during the season...Five gymnasts earned spots on the SEC Academic Honor Roll.
WOMEN'S TENNIS - Gators Netters Advance to Championship Final for Third Consecutive Year
Finished the season 31-1, with lone loss coming in the NCAA Finals...sported a 62-match win streak, the second all-time longest active win streak in the country in men's or women's tennis ... finished the regular season undefeated (28-0) for the fifth time in school history, and for the fourth time since 1991 ... SEC Champions for the 15th time in school history and the third consecutive year... head coach Andy Brandi earned the 350th victory of his career with the 5-1 win over Georgia (April 20), a win which also claimed UF's ninth SEC Tournament title in the event's 11-year history... earned third straight top-seed at the SEC Tournament and received a first-round bye... successfully defended its National Team Indoor Championship with a 4-3 victory over No. 2 Stanford in the final... UF's 8-1 victory over Arkansas on March 8th was the 500th win in program history... concluded the home schedule with a perfect 11-0 record at the Scott Linder Tennis Stadium, marking the third consecutive and 11th overall undefeated season at home... team's 9-0 victory over Syracuse marked the 33rd consecutive win, establishing a new team record for consecutive victories (dating back to last season's 31-0 mark)... Senior Divya Merchant became Florida's all-time singles victory leader (Mar. 23), surpassing 145 wins... Four Gators earned SEC Academic Honor Roll honors.
MEN'S TENNIS - Florida Participates in Seventh Consecutive NCAA Postseason
Advanced to the NCAA Championships finals site for the sixth time in the past seven seasons, with the six appearances ranking as the second-best total nationally since 1991...Finishes in the top 10 nationally, the seventh straight year Florida has ended the year in the Top 15 in the final rankings...UF is now one of only five schools in the nation to finish each of the last seven seasons (1991-97) in the Top 15 in the final rankings...Closed out the year with wins in 12 of their last 17 dual matches...Claimed the NCAA Region III Qualifying Tournament...Advanced to the semifinals of the league tournament, the fourth time in the last five seasons UF has advanced to at least the semifinals...Placed sixth in the SEC, the seventh year in a row UF has finished in the first division of collegiate tennis' premier conference...A Gator freshman is named All-America for the first time in UF history...A UF freshman is named second-team All-SEC, the first Gator rookie named to the all-league team since 1984 and the sixth consecutive season at least one Gator is named all-conference...One player is named the Region III Rookie of the Year...Two players are named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll, the 12th straight year that UF is represented on the honor roll and the sixth year overall with more than one selection...Three true freshmen played in the singles lineup in each of the last 20 dual matches.
WOMEN'S GOLF - Second Consecutive Top 10 NCAA Finish on Links
Finished 10th at the NCAA Championships in Columbus, Ohio, with a top individual finish of 11th...One golfer is named to All-America honorable mention squad, while two were named to the NGCA All-America Scholar team...Qualified for the NCAA Championships by taking seventh in the NCAA East Region...Third at Southeastern Conference Championship...Two players named to the All-SEC first team and a Gator was runner-up in the medalist race at SECs...Won its third consecutive Ryder/Florida State Collegiate team title...Opened the spring season with a third-place finish at the SunTrust Women's Collegiate Invitational...Best team finish of the fall season came at the Lady Paladin Invitational, where UF finished third overall...One Gator won two medalist honors during the year....One Gator represented her native Spain in the World Junior Team Championships...Florida Head Coach Kim Haddow was inducted into the National Golf Coaches Association Hall of Fame in January.
MEN'S GOLF - Gators Tee Up Tenth Straight Top 20 Showing
Finished 15th at the NCAA Championships in Lake Forest, Illinois with a top individual finish of 20th...One golfer was named to the All-American honorable mention team, marking the 15th straight year at least one Gator has earned All-America honors in golf...Four were named to the Southeastern Conference academic honor roll...Qualified for thier 15th consecutive NCAA Championship by taking sixth at the NCAA East Region...Seventh at the Southeastern Conference Championship...Two players were named to the All-SEC first team, marking the fifth straight year two Gators have been named first team...One Gator was named to the second-team...Opened the spring season by winning their ninth straight Gator Invitational and fifth straight Puerto Rico Classic...One golfer won medalist honors at the Puerto Rico Classic...One golfer played in his first Masters.
MEN'S TRACK AND FIELD - Gators Make Run to Top of the Conference
Florida completed the single greatest one-year turnaround in the history of UF track and field, finishing second at both the SEC Indoor and Outdoor meets after finishing seventh indoors and eighth outdoors in the 1996 season...UF won four individual SEC Indoor Championships with more than 30% of the team's points coming from freshmen...UF finished 34th at the NCAA Indoor Championships...Six athletes earned Indoor All-America honors...Over 40% of UF's SEC Outdoor Champinship points came from freshmen...Two Gators won SEC outdoor titles...UF placed 22nd at the NCAA Outdoor Championships and earned 11 All-America honors in five events...One outdoor record was broken...The cross country squad finished seventh a the SEC Championships and 22nd at the NCAA District III Championships...Eight student-athletes earned SEC Academic Honor Roll accolades...Florida will lose just four athletes to graduation but only two who scored championship points.
WOMEN'S TRACK AND FIELD - Gators win Triple Crown
Became the first women's program in the history of the SEC to win track and field's triple crown , which consist of winning the conference title in cross country, indoor and outdoor track...The cross country team won their second SEC championship as they claimed the top indivdual title and four Gators made the All-SEC squad...UF claimed their third ever SEC Indoor Championship as seven athletes claimed 10 All-SEC honors...The Gators also won their second SEC Outdoor title as six athletes claimed eight All-SEC honors...Finished fifth at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Indianapolis and sixth at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Bloomington, Indiana...Gators had 10 athletes claim 15 All-American honors during the indoor season and 11 athletes won 17 All-Americna honors at the outdoor meet...One athlete became only the second person in UF history to win an indoor and outdoor NCAA Individual Championship in the same year...Head Coach Tom Jones was named National Division I Indoor Coach of the Year and National Division I Outdoor Co-Coach of the Year
SOCCER - Gators Boot Way Into NCAA Quarterfinals
Won first SEC title after posting a 3-2 sudden-death win over Western Division champion Arkansas in the SEC Tournament...Went undefeated at 8-0 against SEC opponents in the regular season...Placed first in the SEC Eastern Division...Received first NCAA Tournament berth...Youngest program in the 32-team field of the NCAA Tournament...Advanced to quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament, losing to eventual national champion North Carolina...Shutout nine out of 11 SEC opponents...Totaled an SEC record 15 shutouts...Ranked fourth nationally in team scoring average and led the SEC in team points scored, goals scored, assists, and shots...Went 7-2 vs. teams ranked in the nation's top 25, including wins over No. 9 Virginia and No. 10 N.C. State...Finished the regular season with a No. 9 ranking by Soccer America...Achieved highest ranking at No. 8 by Soccer America, which the Gators maintained for seven straight weeks before dropping one spot to No. 9 after falling 1-0 to Duke in the regular season finale...Ranked third nationally in both total (17,266) and average (1,727) attendance among NCAA Division I women's soccer programs...Went undefeated at 10-0 when playing at home in Percy Beard Stadium.
SOFTBALL - Baby Gators Reach SEC Tournament Final
Capped inaugural season with an amazing run at the Southeastern Conference Tournament, winning three elimination games to advance to the championship game where the squad lost to second-ranked South Carolina...Finished the regular season third in the SEC Eastern Division and ranked fourth overall in the league...Played five of the eight teams in the Colllege World Series, inlcuding national champion Arizona...Opened first-ever season with two victories over Stetson...Split a doubleheader with No. 17 Florida State on Feb. 19, recording first victory over a ranked team...Swept Arkansas in first-ever Southeastern Conference doubleheader...Upset 12th-ranked Oklahoma State in the consolation round at the PONY tournament...Set school records for runs in a game (nine) and an inning (eight) in the series with Bethune-Cookman...Finished regular season with a four-game sweep of Georgia....Three players were named to the All-SEC team, including two on the first team...Two student-athletes were named members of the SEC Academic Honor Roll...One player was honored on the SEC All-Tournament team.