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July 04, 2004

One NCAA Championship Is Not Enough For Some Schools

FROM THE SETTLED DUST OF THE RECENTLY COMPLETED NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS come accolades for a special class of athletic program: “double gender champions.” These are schools that won both the men’s and women’s NCAA championship in the same year.

[Editor’s note: “Double gender” champion appears to be the semi-official phraseology adopted by the NCAA. Since many people appear to get confused / embarrassed due to the unwieldy double gender term, the Phraseology Department of CollegeAthleticsClips.com would like to humbly propose the adoption of .some other term.]

Eight schools won both women's and men's championships in the same sport this year. Since there were 88 NCAA champions in 23 sports, that relatively high ratio speaks to the unmistakable conclusion that these were not random, coincidental occurrences.

Excellence and proficiency by a men’s or women’s team has been known to do wonders for the motivation of the lagging gender sport. Whether it’s bragging rights, media attention or student affection, many a mediocre program has been propelled to higher heights to keep up with the other gender.

For example, the UConn men’s basketball teams could not help but to have noticed the year-in, year-out success of their distaff counterparts. And look what happened.

Double-gender champions in 2003-04:

• Adams State College -- Div II cross country

• Auburn University -- Div I swimming and diving

• Univ. of Connecticut -- Div I basketball

• Kenyon College -- Div III swimming and diving

• Louisiana State Univ. -- Div I indoor track and field

• Middlebury College -- Div III ice hockey

• Univ. of Southern California -- NCAA water polo

• Stanford Univ. -- Div I cross country

The all-time champion of male-female championships has clearly been Kenyon College in D3 Swimming and Diving. The men and women have won championships in the same year a total of twenty times. No other school has come anywhere close: in any sport, in any division.

Celebrations for double winners vary by sport, by school and by fan base.

At one end of the spectrum was UConn, whose students staged huge celebrations on campus on two successive weeks for their men’s and women’s D1 basketball champs. The festivities were largely harmless, although a small minority of boisterous hooligans took to excessive alcohol consumptions, window breakage and at least one vehicle tip-over (a Honda Civic, if you must know).

Since UConn enjoys a statewide popularity, a double celebration in downtown Hartford—20 miles from campus--attracted some 350,000 people. Police said the crowd was the biggest they'd seen since the end of World War II.

Meanwhile, at Kenyon, there was no parade, no spectacle, no audience with the guv, no Letterman show. Remarked a decidedly modest Peter Smith, Kenyon AD, “We made sure the students get back to class. There's no parade, there's no standing up in the dining hall.”

That's the difference between basketball and swimming, between D1 and D3, between a devoted statewide fandom and a casual local following.

(this 472 word excerpt was distilled from a1929 word article in the NCAA News of 7-5-04)