For an unprecedented fifth consecutive year, the Liberty University Athletics Department as claimed the Big South Conference’s George F. “Buddy” Sasser Cup for the 2011-12 athletic season. It was the Flames’ 10th Sasser Cup overall, which is also a new Big South record.
The Sasser Cup trophy was presented by Big South Commissioner Kyle Kallander to Liberty University President and Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr.; Senior Associate Athletics Director/Internal Operations Mickey Guridy; Associate Athletics Director/ Senior Woman Administrator Meredith Eaker; Associate Athletics Director/External Operations Kevin Keys; and NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative Dr. Bill Gribbin at the Big South Conference’s annual Spring Meetings Awards and Hall of Fame Dinner at the Westin Resort Hotel on Hilton Head Island, S.C., on May 31.
Liberty finished with an average of 12.59 points (214 points in 17 sports), earning its fifth straight Sasser Cup by an average of 1.31 points over Coastal Carolina (11.28 average – 191.75 points in 17 sports). The Flames become the first Big South athletics department ever to win five Sasser Cup titles in a row.CoastalCarolina has captured four straight Sasser Cup titles twice (1988-91 and 2004-07).
Additionally, it was Liberty’s 10th Sasser Cup title in the last 14 athletics seasons. That is the most Sasser Cup crowns ever earned by a Big South institution, one more than Coastal Carolina’s nine Sasser Cups.
For just the second time in Liberty University Athletics history, Liberty has finished inside the Top 100 in the final Division I Learfield Sports Director’s Cup standings.
Liberty finished No. 95 in the final standings compiled by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of America (NACDA) for the 2011-12 academic year.
The results marked the fourth year in a row Liberty has bettered its standings.
Liberty’s 2011-12 Director’s Cup standings were bolstered by the Athletics Department’s first-ever Top 10 NCAA Championship finish. The Flames’ golf program finished in 10th place at the 2012 NCAA Men’s Golf National Championship at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif., earning Liberty a total of 67.5 Director’s Cup points.
The Learfield Sports Director’s Cup, now in its 19th year of existence, was developed as a joint effort between NACDA and “USA Today.” Points are awarded based on each Division I institution’s finish in up to 20 sports – 10 women’s and 10 men’s.
After leading Liberty University Athletics to another banner year, including a fifth straight Big South Sasser Cup, Director of Athletics Jeff Barber has been selected as one of four FCS Under Armour AD of the Year award winners.
The award was presented to Barber during a special luncheon on June 27 at the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Convention in Dallas, Texas.
The Under Armour AD of the Year Award program was created to honor intercollegiate directors of athletics for their commitment and administrative excellence within a campus and/or college community environment. The award spans seven divisions (NCAA FBS, FCS, Division I, II, III, NAIA/Other Four-Year Institutions and Junior/Community Colleges) and annually honors 29 athletic directors (four from each division) as regional winners, and one international recipient.
The Liberty Flames baseball program had three players selected during the second day of the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft, June 5.
The Toronto Blue Jays selected outfielder Ian Parmley (left photo) in the seventh round, while the Texas Rangers took pitcher John Niggli (middle photo) in the ninth round.
The Arizona Diamondbacks selected pitcher Blake Forslund (right photo) in the 15th round, the final round of the day.
With the selections of the trio, Liberty has had 49 players selected in the 39-year history of its program and has had a player selected in every draft since 2000.
Liberty University Athletics has once again excelled in the classroom, with two teams earning Public Recognition Awards from the NCAA for multi-year (four-year) academic progress and seven teams earning perfect scores on the Academic Progress Report (APR) for 2010-11.
Liberty’s men’s soccer and women’s lacrosse teams were among the more than 950 teams honored in June by the NCAA with Public Recognition Awards, given each year to teams with the most recent multi-year APRs in the top 10 percent of each sport. Both of Liberty’s teams are earning the Public Recognition Awards for the first time.
Each year, the NCAA tracks the classroom performance of student-athletes on every Division I team through the annual scorecard of academic achievement, known as APR. The score measures eligibility and retention each semester or quarter and provides a clear picture of the academic culture in each sport. The most recent APRs are multi-year rates based on scores from the 2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10, and 2010-11 academic years.
The 954 teams publicly recognized this year for high achievement represent 560 women’s teams and 394 men’s or mixed squads. A total of 263 schools, out of 347 Division I colleges and universities, placed at least one team on the top APR list.
Liberty’s athletics programs came in with a multi-year rate over 940 and eight programs received a multi-year rate above 980 (men’s golf, men’s soccer, women’s basketball, women’s cross country, women’s lacrosse, softball, women’s outdoor track, and women’s volleyball).
The following programs had perfect APR scores for 2010-11: men’s cross country, men’s golf, men’s soccer, women’s cross country, women’s lacrosse, women’s tennis, and women’s volleyball.
Liberty’s athletics programs finished the 2010-11 academic year with a combined 970 APR score, giving Liberty Athletics a combined 968 APR multi-year rate.
Liberty University Club Sports has announced five new head coaches: Drew Sherwood, beach volleyball (a new program for 2012-13); Ryan Hurley, crew; Rachel Steele, gymnastics; Sara Niemi, women’s Division II hockey; and Jesse Wilson, taekwondo.
“We are excited for our new coaches to come in and be a part of our Club Sports program,” said Kirk Handy, senior director of Campus Recreation. “We believe the new coaches will take our programs to the next level.”
Sherwood is the general manager of the Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre. He played two seasons with the Flames men’s volleyball team, competed in a number of tournaments across the U.S., and has assisted at Liberty’s volleyball camps.
Hurley recently served as the coach of the women’s varsity crew team at Virginia Tech.
Steele, a 2012 alumna, was the co-founder and captain of the Flames gymnastics team where she competed in three meets and won an individual title in the balance beam event at the 2010 national championships in Texas.
Niemi, a 2009 alumna, has served as an assistant coach for the Flames women’s hockey teams since 2009. She has played competitive hockey since age 5, including three seasons with the Flames Division I women’s hockey team.
Wilson has been practicing taekwondo for 29 years and is a certified black belt through the Kim School of taekwondo in Danville, Va.
Three Lady Flames swam for one of the 26 spots on the U.S. women’s swimming team for the London 2012 Summer Olympics.
Liberty University redshirt sophomore Brye Ravettine qualified to compete in the 50-meter freestyle at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, held June 25 through July 2 at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.
This marked the first time that a Liberty swimming student-athlete competed in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
In addition to Ravettine, incoming freshman Laura Day swam the 100-meter breaststroke at the trials. Day finished sixth in her heat, 141st out of 153.
Ravettine entered the competition ranked 61st out of the 164 swimmers invited to compete in the women’s 50-meter freestyle. At the trials she tied for 72nd place out of 154 competitors in the 50 free, finishing sixth in her heat.
Jess Reinhardt, who joined Liberty’s team this fall, competed in the Australian Olympic Trials in 2008 and again this year.