The University at Albany Great Danes have quickly leaped from underdogs to top dogs since joining the America East Conference.
For the second year in a row — and third time overall — UAlbany captured the Stuart P. Haskell Commissioner’s Cup, which annually recognizes the strongest athletic program in the league, based on a scoring system that rewards a school for success both during the regular season and in postseason tournaments.
“In earning our second consecutive Commissioner’s Cup, our student-athletes, coaches and staff continued to sustain the culture of excellence that is defined by commitment, determination and integrity,” said UAlbany athletic director Lee McElroy.
“Our achievement is in concert with the mission and values of the university. We look forward to celebrating this significant milestone with our fans, donors, alums and university representatives.”
The Great Danes won eight league titles to tie a conference record. UAlbany also won three regular-season crowns and recorded a pair of runner-up finishes to roll up 369 points.
Stony Brook was the Commissioner’s Cup runner-up for the second straight year with 338 points, followed by UMBC (298), New Hampshire (283), Binghamton (242), Hartford (202), Vermont (190), Maine (170) and UMass-Lowell (129).
The Great Danes won both the men’s and women’s basketball titles, the men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field crowns, the men’s lacrosse trophy and the softball championship. They were second in both field hockey and women’s lacrosse.
It was the second time in a row that both the men and the women won the basketball titles.
Since the Commissioner’s Cup was established in 1989-90, Boston University and Delaware dominated the competition, with 11 and 10 wins, respectively, but both those programs have left the league. UAlbany is the only active member of the conference to ever win the Cup.
“As you might imagine, no way anyone could have projected the level of success we have achieved,” said McElroy, who has been the UAlbany athletic director for 14 years. “As a point of reference, the Commissioner’s Cup since its inception has been won by only three institutions.
“Our coaches and staff have created a culture of excellence that will be maintained for years to come.”
Two other special achievements accomplished by UAlbany this year were the building of the new Bob Ford football stadium, named after the longtime coach who retired last fall, and the Tewaaraton lacrosse award, that sport’s version of the Heisman Award, shared by brothers Lyle and Miles Thompson as the most outstanding male players in NCAA Division I.
McElroy said there is still plenty of work to do with the UAlbany athletic programs.
“We clearly must build our football template to match the success of our other programs,” he said. “Also important is that we want to win more postseason games to enhance our brand and recruiting.
“Clearly, this is a very exciting time for our programs. We have a model that is based on leadership, academics and athletics, which is among the best in the nation.”