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Southern Oregon finishes eighth in Directors' Cup standings

The top two NAIA Learfield Sports Directors' Cup finishes in Cascade Conference history now both belong to Southern Oregon University after it was announced Tuesday that the Raider athletic department took eighth place in the 2015-16 standings.

The Directors' Cup, which was introduced to the NAIA in 1995 as a joint effort between the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics and USA Today, awards points based on an institution's finishes at the NAIA Championships in up to 12 sports. Ten of SOU's 12 NAIA-affiliated programs advanced to their respective national championships and contributed to a total of 591 ¼ points this season.

For the second year in a row, SOU also had the top finish among public universities in the standings.

Last year the Raiders totaled 596 ½ points to place sixth in the standings and beat out the previous best finish for a Cascade Conference institution, which had been ninth place by Concordia (Ore.) on three different occasions. This year the CCC's next top finishers were 12th-place College of Idaho, 40th-place Northwest Christian and 41st-place Eastern Oregon. The Frontier Conference (in which the SOU football team competes) was led by 11th-place Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) and 19th-place Carroll (Mont.).

Six of the top seven finishes in SOU history and each of the top three have come under Director of Athletics Matt Sayre, who took over in 2010 and was named the CCC Athletic Director of the Year for the second year in a row on Monday.

SOU came into the spring sixth place in the standings and was only active in three of the NAIA's eight spring sports but got points from each of them — men's track and field (11th place), women's track and field (20th place) and softball (21st place).

In the winter, the Raiders got points from their second-place women's basketball team, 10th-place wrestling team and 17th-place men's basketball team. And, in the fall, the football team placed second, the volleyball team was 13th, the women's cross country team was 14th and the men's cross country team was 23rd.

Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) was first in the standings with 852 ¾ points, followed by Oklahoma City (777) and Wayland Baptist (Texas) (750). SOU edged out ninth-place Marian (Ind.) by 1 ¼ points.

College Football

Berk Brown, a staple of Southern Oregon University football since joining the team as a transfer in 2005, has announced his resignation after nine years on staff.

Brown, 31, held several posts for the Raiders during his time and most recently served as the team's defensive and recruiting coordinator for the past three seasons. He recently accepted a position as an assistant athletic director, assistant football coach and health and physical education teacher at St. Mary's School in Medford, where he begins officially today.

"It wasn't long ago that SOU football was close to being a footnote, so I would like to thank everyone who has helped the program reach the levels we have risen to," Brown said. "From the alumni, the Raider Red Zone, parents, the athletic staff and administration, my fellow coaches and most importantly the players that have bought into our philosophy and put their minds, bodies and souls on the line – I can't begin to thank you enough. My family and I are forever indebted to Southern Oregon University and its football program."

SOU head coach Craig Howard will announce Brown's replacement later this week.

"Berk will be dearly missed and we wish him the very best in his coaching career and family life," Howard said. "He was one of two coaches I retained from the previous staff when I got here (in 2011) because I found him to be loyal to SOU, he loved the players and the players loved him. He continued to grow as a coach every year and the defenses he put on the field always played with tremendous intensity."

The highlight of Brown's tenure was the 2014 NAIA title game, when his defense forced eight turnovers in a 55-31 defeat of Marian (Ind.) for SOU's first title. His unit shined again during the 2015 NAIA Championship Series, holding Kansas Wesleyan to eight points in the first round, second-ranked Baker (Kan.) to 19 in the quarterfinals and top-ranked to Morningside (Iowa) to a season-low 27 in a semifinal road upset.