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The Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup is an annual award given out by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, or NACDA. This year, Tech ranked 9th on the list — a significant rise from a position of 60th just four years ago.

While MIT is probably much better known for its brains than its brawn, the steady increase in rank over the past few years — from 60th to 37th to 24th to 9th — is not surprising, given the Engineers’ strong performances across the board the last few seasons.

The emergence of programs such as men’s basketball, coupled with the continuing successes of historically strong programs like men’s and women’s track and field have vaulted MIT into the national spotlight in Division III college sports.

Another factor the NACDA is the academic success of the school (not really in question) as well as the athletes participating. MIT’s coaches continue to strive for is excellence on and off the playing field; many coaches schedule regular meetings with players to check on athletic and academic wellness.

While it may not generate as much publicity as, for example, a Nobel Prize, this award is significant for the MIT community. Given the recent athletic department cuts, this award acknowledges of the strength of the athletic program on campus and furthers MIT’s initiative to diversify the school, not just by strengthening students academically, but outside the classroom as well.