The Commissioner’s Cup annually recognizes the strongest athletic program in America East as determined by a scoring system which rewards schools for success both during the regular season and at championship competition in the conference’s 20 sports.
“Our outstanding third-place finish in the America East Conference Commissioner’s Cup is a result of the hard work of all of our coaches, student-athletes and athletics’ personnel,” Director of Athletics Dr. Charles Brown said. “We are in a conference where there is a tremendous amount of depth; all 20 of the sports that the conference offers are highly contested, and we were competitive in so many of those sports. This shows the overall depth of our program. We are so proud of what our student-athletes have accomplished, and our future goal is to win the cup.”
UMBC maintained its third-place standing after the winter season and finished with 289 points.Boston University won its sixth straight and league-record 11th overall Commissioner’s Cup with 388 points, 35 more than Albany, which tied a conference record with eight titles and finished second with 353 points. Binghamton (281) took fourth place, finishing just eight points behind the Retrievers. Stony Brook (268), New Hampshire (226), Maine (194), Hartford (176) and Vermont(167) rounded out the field.
For the first time since 2005-06, every America East school won a conference championship or regular-season title.
In the fall, UMBC collected the most points in men’s soccer (40) by finishing second in the regular season and winning its first-ever league championship. The Retrievers also played for the volleyball title for the second time in five years.
The Retrievers earned the second-most points (101) of any school during the winter behind the Terriers’ 148. UMBC swept the men’s and women’s swimming and diving titles for the third time in the last five years and also earned the most points of any school in women’s basketball (49), winning its first-ever America East regular-season crown and reaching the semifinals of the league championship for the first time since 2007.
UMBC also surpassed 100 points in the spring (102), as the Retrievers reached the women’s lacrosse and men’s tennis title matches for the second straight year. In addition, UMBC advanced to the conference tournament in softball and men’s lacrosse.
The Retrievers, who improved three spots from their sixth-place ranking a year ago, matched their best finish since joining the America East in 2003-04, as they also placed third in 2008. The program won five consecutive Commissioner’s Cup awards in all five years in the Northeast Conference (1998-2003).
The scoring system for the Stuart P. Haskell, Jr. Commissioner’s Cup is as follows: In sports where regular-season round robin competition is conducted, the first-place institution in the final standings receives four points times the total number of teams involved in conference play. The second-place institution receives four less points; third place receives eight less points, and so on. Additionally, the America East (tournament) champion receives two points times the total number of teams participating in the championship. The second-place institution receives two less points; third place receives four less points, and so on.
In sports where regular-season round robin competition is not conducted (cross country, tennis, track and field, swimming and diving), the first-place institution at the America East Championship receives two points times the total number of teams participating in the championship. The second-place institution receives two less points; third place receives four less points, and so on.
Also presented at Tuesday evening’s dinner was the America East Sportsmanship Award to the student-athletes who competed in the 2011 America East Swimming and Diving Championship, which was hosted by UMBC. Ashley Miller (New Smyrna Beach, Fla./New Smyrna Beach), a rising senior on the Retriever swimming and diving team, accepted the award on behalf of her peers.
America East swimmers and divers set aside their competitive spirit and rallied around one of their own at the 2011 conference championship. The student-athletes raised funds and paid tribute to Boston University senior diver Bailey O’Brien, who learned in December that cancer, which had been in remission since her freshman year, had returned. Over the next few months, O’Brien endured numerous surgeries and intensive chemo and radiation therapy, but she was diagnosed with stage four melanoma.
When the conference championship came around in February, her story had reached the entire America East footprint, and her fellow student-athletes sprung into action. Led by Miller, collection baskets were placed around the Germantown Indoor Swim Center, the host site for the meet, and over $1,500 was raised for the Bailey O’Brien Fund. The athletes also organized a moving tribute to O’Brien, in which they all gathered around the pool and held hands in unison. O’Brien watched the tribute via Skype and was rendered speechless by the support. Inspired by the gesture, O’Brien continued to fight and learned just last month that she is in remission.
The swimmers and divers are now automatically eligible for the NCAA Sportsmanship Award, which the NCAA Committee on Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct will determine in July. To be nominated, an individual or team must have demonstrated consistently the values of caring, fairness, civility, honesty, integrity and responsibility in his or her daily participation in intercollegiate athletics.