The University of Louisville’s appearance in the College World Series will cap off a terrific 2016-17 season for the Cardinals. Lofty team finishes, impressive individual achievements and nationally recognized academic success have highlighted UofL’s extremely productive academic year.
18 NCAA PARTCIPANTS — Eighteen UofL sports – 10 men’s and eight women’s – had teams or individuals participate in NCAA postseason competition in 2016-17. Baseball has won a school-record 52 games and has advanced to its fourth College World Series, including its third in the last five years. UofL’s men’s soccer team was the No. 4 overall seed in the NCAA Championship and advanced to the Elite Eight. UofL’s women’s cross country advanced to the NCAA Championship for the first time in school history. Louisville’s women’s swimming team finished sixth in the nation with Mallory Comerford sharing the 200-free NCAA championship with Katie Ledecky. The Cardinals’ men’s swimming team finished 11th in the NCAA Championship.
UofL’s women’s basketball team reached the NCAA Sweet 16, its fifth in the last seven years. UofL’s men’s basketball team made its 42nd NCAA Tournament appearance and is one of just four schools that have 15 straight 20-win seasons. The Cardinals had individuals compete in the NCAA indoor and outdoor men’s and women’s track and field competition, led by Edwin Kibichiy’s national championship in the 3,000 meter steeplechase as the men finished 22nd in the nation in the outdoor meet. Football competed in the New Year’s Eve Citrus Bowl. The Cards’ field hockey, men’s tennis and women’s lacrosse teams competed in the NCAA Tournament. UofL’s women’s golf team participated in the NCAA regional and the Cardinals had individuals compete in men’s tennis, men’s golf and men’s cross country, with Kibichiy finishing eighth in the NCAA Cross Country Championship.
THIRTEEN RANKED TEAMS — Thirteen sports were ranked among the nation’s top 25 during the year, including 11 that were among the national leaders in their respective final rankings. Louisville was one of only three schools in the nation with its football and men’s and women’s basketball programs all ranked among the Associated Press’ final top 25 teams. Positioned among the nationally ranked teams were baseball (sixth USA Today; in progress), men’s basketball (10th AP, 14th USA Today), women’s basketball, (13th AP, 12th USA Today), field hockey (ninth NFHCA), football (21st AP, 22nd USA Today), women’s lacrosse (19, US, Lacrosse, 20th IWLCA), men’s soccer (sixth NSCAA), men’s swimming (eighth CSCAA), women’s swimming (11th CSCAA), and men’s outdoor track and field (22nd NCAA) and women’s indoor track and field (18th NCAA). Women’s rowing and women’s soccer also achieved a top 25 national ranking at some point during their seasons.
UNIQUE INDIVIDUAL HONORS – Four Cardinals reached the pinnacle of their sports this season and earned lofty personal recognition. Quarterback Lamar Jackson became the youngest winner of the Heisman Trophy – college football’s highest honor — while amassing a school-record 1,571 yards rushing, 5,114 yards of total offense, 21 rushing touchdowns and 30 TDs through the air. Jackson also became the first Cardinal to earn AP, Walter Camp and Maxwell player of the year honors. Pitcher/first baseman Brendan McKay, who is the Cardinals’ career strikeout leader and a potent cleanup hitter, has already won national player of the year awards from Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. It is the first time in history that one university has featured both the Heisman Trophy winner and the Baseball America Player of the Year in the same academic year.
Two Cardinals won individual NCAA titles. ACC Swimmer of the Year Mallory Comerford, who holds eight UofL records, tied for the NCAA Championship in the 200 meter freestyle with Olympic champion Katie Ledecky. The 2016 ACC Scholar-Athlete of the Year for Men’s Cross Country, senior distance runner Edwin Kibichiy won the NCAA outdoor title in the 3,000 meter steeplechase.
APR EXCELLENCE — Six University of Louisville athletic teams — men’s and women’s basketball, football, men’s and women’s golf and men’s tennis – received NCAA Public Recognition Awards for ranking among the top 10 percent nationally in Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores for the most recent four-year period from 2012-16, including five teams with perfect scores. Cardinal athletic teams posted a collective 3.18 GPA during the 2016-17 academic year, with 19 of 23 teams achieving a 3.0 or better for the 2017 spring semester.
COMMUNITY SERVICE LEADERS — UofL student-athletes amassed over 11,000 service hours through its CardsCARE community outreach program during the 2016-17 year, a total which ranked among the top five in the nation in the NCAA Team Works Challenge.
FACILITY EXPANSION – While already possessing an array of playing venues that are among the finest in the nation, UofL is in the midst of one expansion project and is planning another. On the heels of completing the new 40,000-square-foot Thorntons Academic Center of Excellence, the Cardinals broke ground on the expansion of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Included in the Coming Full Circle project that will enclose the north end zone are another 10,000 seats that include 1,000 club seats, 70 premium boxes, and 12 exclusive field level suites and the Pepsi Club, a premium low-level club. The football complex will undergo dramatic changes doubling the size of the team’s weight room and conditioning center, creating space for team workouts, a players lounge, improvements for coaches’ offices and the team locker room, and expansive theatre-style meeting areas. UofL is also in the early stages of a major expansion project for Jim Patterson Stadium, home of the Omaha-bound Cardinals’ baseball team.
NATIONAL PROMINENCE — Louisville ranks 19th in the nation in the Learfield Sports Director’s Cup national all-sports standings through all winter sports. The Cardinals are one of four ACC universities among the top 20 in the nation and one of seven ACC schools in the top 35. UofL has finished among the upper half of the league in each of its initial three years in the ACC.
Editor’s Note: the original press release can be found here.