Minor College Sports Getting Major Attention

Stanford University remains the envy of college athletic programs around the country, winning the prized Directors' Cup 16 years in a row for accomplishing the most success across all sports. But as The New York Times reports today, other institutions - even in the face of dire budget cuts - are investing in once-obscure sports that do not come close to paying for themselves. "Winning in all sports is what matters now," write Joe Drape and Katie Thomas, "and the message is driven home from the highest levels of the university."

"If we are going to compete in something, we want to win at it - whether it is in pediatrics or women's gymnastics," said J. Bernard Machen, president of the University of Florida, which built a $15 million complex for its women's lacrosse program before the team had even played a single game. "It is important to our supporters, both financial and among our community. It is part of our culture. We want people to know that Florida is a place for winners."

In addition to the Directors' Cup, universities now have an additional incentive: Beginning this fall, the Capital One Cup will reward NCAA Division I athletic programs for their cumulative on-field performance across multiple men's and women's sports with $200,000 to fund graduate-level scholarships for student-athletes. The award will be presented live during next year's ESPY Awards on ESPN.

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