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SOU takes over top spot in Directors' Cup standings

Southern Oregon University's athletic programs had a more successful fall than any other NAIA school, according to the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup standings that were released Wednesday by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.

SOU shot from No. 4 to No. 1 in the standings when the Raider football team won the NAIA championship game against Marian, 55-31 on Dec. 19 in Daytona Beach, Fla.

The Raiders also got points from the men's cross country team, which finished second in the NAIA; the volleyball team, which went 24-7 and was 13th in the final NAIA poll; and the women's cross country team, which took 18th in its first team appearance at the NAIA championships since 2010.

"Our coaches and student-athletes work so hard for SOU," Raider Director of Athletics Matt Sayre said. "We're proud of them. It's gratifying to see their efforts pay off and SOU at the top of the list."

SOU was 34th in the standings after last fall and finished 32nd overall for the 2013-14 academic year. The school's best Directors' Cup finish was 18th in 2012-13.

The Cascade Conference is well represented in the standings. In addition to SOU, the CCC has six other ranked schools: No. 13 College of Idaho, No. 18 Eastern Oregon, No. 21 Concordia, No. 36 Oregon Tech, No. 49 Northwest Christian and No. 86 Corban. Frontier Conference rival Carroll is fifth.

SOU totaled 297 points, immediately ahead of Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)'s 297 and Cal State San Marcos's 222.

The Directors' Cup was developed as a joint effort between NACDA and USA Today. Points are awarded based on each institution's finish in up to 12 sports — six men's and six women's.

SOU has a chance to pad its total this winter with a second-ranked wrestling team, a 15th-ranked women's basketball team and a 16th-ranked men's basketball team. The final winter standings will be released on March 26.