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1997-98 University of Florida Athletic Year in Review

University of Florida Athletics Program Finishes Tied for Second in the Nation

On the strength of a NCAA championship by the women's tennis team and ten top-10 national finishes, the University of Florida athletic program tied for second in the 1997-98 Sears Directors' Cup national all-sports competition. Florida's second-place finish is the best in school history, bettering the Gators' third-place finish in 1995-96.

Florida has ranked among the nation's 10 best collegiate athletic programs for 15 consecutive years and among the nation's top five for nine 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 to finish in the top five in the nation over the past nine years.

The Directors' 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 20 sports. Fielding 18 athletic teams, Florida shared second place with North Carolina with 660 points. Stanford captured the title with 1,010 points, while UCLA was fourth (650) and Michigan was fifth (620).

Ten UF teams finished in the top 10 of their respective sports in 1997-98: Women's Tennis (1st); Women's Golf (2nd); Gymnastics (2nd); Volleyball (T3rd); Football (4th); Women's Indoor Track and Field (6th); Men's Indoor Track and Field (7th); Baseball (T7th); Soccer (T9th); Women's Basketball (T9th).

For an unprecedented fourth time, the University of Florida completed a sweep of the Southeastern Conference All-Sports Trophies, winning the men's, women's and combined crowns. Florida became the first school in SEC history to win all three in 1992 and repeated the feat in 1993, 1996 and 1998. No other school in the league has won all three titles in the same year. Florida has won the All-Sports Trophy for seven consecutive years and nine of the last 11. The Gators captured seven SEC titles in 1997-98 (baseball, women's cross country, soccer, softball, women's tennis, women's outdoor track & field and volleyball).

Florida was equally successful away from the athletic arena in 1997-98, as a league and school record 100 student-athletes were named to the Southeastern Conference's Academic Honor Roll. Florida has had 483 Academic Honor Roll recipients over the last six years - the best six-year total in UF and SEC history. Since 1980-81, UF student-athletes have accumulated 908 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 to University academic programs. Since 1990, the University Athletic Association has contributed more than $14.3 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 six million fans have filed through the gates to attend UF sporting events over the past seven years. More than 850,000 fans attended 169 home events in Gainesville in 1997-98 and five UF athletic teams ranked in the top 10 nationally in attendance.

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

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