As the school year wraps up, it seems like a good time to reflect on three seasons of competition in the Ivy League. Spring sports aren’t quite over yet, but this year has given us plenty with which to rank the Ancient Eight. The points competition alluded to below awards eight points to the regular season champion of each Ivy League sport, seven to the runners-up and so on. Each school is ranked based on the sum of all its teams. The Director’s Cup is a ranking of all Division I schools, compiled by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. Schools earn points for competing at NCAA championships, though the methodology varies across different sports.
1. Harvard: It pains us to give out this rank, but the Crimson has clearly been the dominant force in the Ivy League this year. It has racked up 12 league titles already, with a good chance of collecting a couple more in men’s heavyweight crew and women’s track and field. Harvard has also fielded a very competitive squad in nearly every sport and as a result has all but won the “unofficial all-sports points championship,” which Princeton has won for 27 years straight. Its dominance extends outside the league as well, as Crimson athletes have competed at a number of NCAA championships and done well enough to place the school 47th in the current Director’s Cup standings, the best of all the Ancient Eight.
2. Princeton: As alluded to above, Princeton has had the preeminent athletic program in the Ivy League for quite some time. The Tigers are still a force to be reckoned with, but their reign atop the league has ended … for now. They rank a solid second in the points competition, but barring an enormous Harvard collapse in crew and track, they’ll end up there for the first time since the ’80s. Also at risk is the streak of 42 years with at least one team or individual national champion. Princeton has some strong contenders, like sophomore Julia Ratcliffe in the women’s hammer, or men’s lightweight crew, but both will have to bring their A-game to keep the streak alive. Additionally, the Tiger athletes still competing in track, crew, tennis and lacrosse will need to score some serious upsets at their respective national championships to overcome the 15.5-point lead Harvard holds in the Director’s Cup standings, a competition in which Princeton is accustomed to placing in the top 40.
3. Penn: The rankings get considerably murkier from positions three to seven. There are a lot of teams clustered together in the points competition, as well as in the Director’s Cup standings. The Quakers are currently third in the former and a close sixth in the latter, ranking 67th in the country. That rank is sure to improve, though, as Penn’s men’s and women’s lacrosse teams both won their respective Ivy League tournaments and will compete in the NCAA tournament. The Quakers also won league titles in men’s soccer, women’s basketball and the South division of softball.
4. Columbia: The Lions are a bit of a curious case. With their campus in the middle of NYC, they simply can’t have the facilities or even field some teams that the rest of the league does. They’re downright awful in several major sports, like football, women’s lacrosse and men’s soccer, but they make up for it in smaller sports like cross country, tennis and fencing. When it all shakes out, though, Columbia ranks fifth among the Ancient Eight in both the points competition and in the Director’s Cup standings. Several of its teams have already qualified for NCAA spring tournaments, including both tennis teams and men’s golf. With the league so tightly bunched in the Director’s Cup, a fantastic next six weeks could see the Lions topping the Ivies in those rankings.
5. Cornell: We mean no disrespect to the school, but Cornell is the runt of the Ivy League in several ways. It is by far the youngest of the Ancient Eight, has probably the worst weather and is looked down upon by the other snootier members of the league. As a results, Cornellians have developed a tough exterior and tend to exceed in the most demanding of sports. They claimed league titles in wrestling and men’s ice hockey, while finishing runner-up in women’s ice hockey. They’re a perennial powerhouse in men’s lacrosse as well as track and field, earning titles and national rankings in both. Cornell is fourth among the Ivies in the Director’s Cup and sixth in the points competition.
6. Yale: The poor Bulldogs are better than this ranking implies but suffer from the curse of being the “pretty good” squad. The Bulldogs field teams in every Ivy League sport except wrestling, and they are usually pretty decent. This prowess has placed them fourth in the points competition, with a good chance to surpass Penn on the strength of its crew. However, the only title the Elis have claimed thus far is in women’s volleyball. It is very hard to advance to the NCAA tournament without winning the league in most sports, and as a result, Yale is a quite distant seventh among the Ancient Eight in the Director’s Cup standings and just 128th overall.
7. Dartmouth: The Big Green, with the smallest enrollment of all the Ivies, takes more of a quality over quantity approach. Much like Columbia, Dartmouth seems to focus on low-key sports like skiing and long distance running, both of which rural New Hampshire is well-suited for. The women’s cross country and track teams have thrust themselves into a leading role in the conference behind one of the best collegians of all-time in Abbey D’Agostino and top-notch coach Mark Coogan. The ski team, one of only two in the league, finished sixth at NCAAs and earned Dartmouth big Director’s Cup points. The Big Green is two spots behind Harvard in the Director’s Cup standings and could have as many as four teams representing it in the spring postseason. But, alas, these rankings focus more on overall performance, particularly in the league, and Dartmouth finishes seventh in the points competition.
8. Brown: Known for its liberal attitude and progressive academic views, Brown isn’t exactly the type of school one would expect to excel in sports. It’s no surprise, then, that it performs quite feebly when the time for competition comes. Not only did no Bears team win an Ivy League title, they didn’t even record a runner-up finish! Shoot, only their women’s soccer team earned an outright third place. Although all their teams got smacked by the Ivy League, it’s a testament to the strength of the conference that a few Bears progressed to NCAA championships and earned the school points in the Director’s Cup. They rank 143rd out of over 350 schools that field at least some Division I programs.