It's official. No school has won more NCAA team championships than Stanford, which secured its 115th title on Sunday with men's soccer claiming its third consecutive crown
following a 1-0 double-overtime victory over Indiana at the College Cup.
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The unprecedented total is a tangible indication of a dominance that began 93 years ago.
Numbers tell one part of the story:
- 20 different programs have won NCAA championships.
- Stanford has won at least one NCAA team title in 42 consecutive academic years.
- 12 programs have won at least four NCAA titles.
- Stanford has won at least five NCAA championships in one academic year four times.
However, numbers can't fully describe the stories, events and efforts that went into each championship. Stanford's first NCAA crown, in men's track and field in 1925, was won by an undermanned team of six, with fellows named Biff, Tiny and Swede. The school balked at sending more than five, but coach Dink Templeton insisted on bringing one more, leaving the team short on funds upon arrival in Chicago. Requiring some hospitality to find lodging, the move was worth it for Stanford. The extra man, Biff Hoffman, was an upset winner in the discus and set an NCAA record. Stanford's NCAA run had begun.
The 1941-42 men's basketball team was big and fast and coach Everett Dean used that to Stanford's advantage, creating the first fast-break team of the generation. Despite missing two starters in the championship game against Dartmouth because of illness and injury, Stanford rolled behind the driving layups of Howie Dallmar to win, 53-38. With a share of the gate in Kansas City, Stanford arrived home with $93.75, after expenses. With most of its team back, the promise of a dynasty was ended by World War II.
The men's golf team was the first Stanford superpower, winning four of five NCAA titles from 1938-42, under coach Eddie Twiggs. The latest star during that era was individual champion Sandy Tatum, who would become hugely influential in the growth of the sport as president of the USGA.
Many of Stanford's championships have come in shocking upsets, like in men's swimming in 1967. Greg Buckingham scored 53 points by himself in that meet, serving notice by shocking Yale's four-time Olympic gold medalist Don Schollander, out-touching him in the 200-yard freestyle. In the 400 free relay, Luis Nicoleo missed his turn and swam without a breath for the remainder of his leg in an effort to catch up. As the team earned an upset victory, Nicoleo passed out on the deck in exhaustion.
When the NCAA supplanted the AIAW as the sponsor of women's championships in 1981-82, Stanford quickly gained a foothold. Stanford won its first women's NCAA title in tennis in 1982 and its second in swimming in 1983. In only 36 years, Stanford has won 51 NCAA women's titles, the most recent of which was achieved last weekend by women's soccer.
Under the direction of Dick Gould
with the men and the triumvirate of Frank Brennan, Lele Forood
and Frankie Brennan
with the women, Stanford tennis teams have combined for 35 NCAA team titles. The women's program is Stanford's NCAA title leader with 18.
The swimming programs have combined for 17, led by some of the greatest names in Olympic history: Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel, Jenny Thompson, Summer Sanders, Pablo Morales, John Hencken.
Among the greatest of Olympians is Kerri Walsh Jennings, who helped define the sport of beach volleyball by winning three gold medals. At Stanford, Walsh led the Cardinal indoor team to two of its seven championships.
Women's basketball began to establish itself as entertainment through Tara VanDerveer
's two NCAA championship teams. Jennifer Azzi led a running, three-point firing attack that rained points on opponents and drew sellout crowds to Maples Pavilion. The Cardinal won championships in 1990 and 1992.
Coaching legends filter throughout Stanford's championships history. Mark Marquess won two College World Series titles, in 1987 and 1988. After his first, as his players celebrated around him, Marquess tucked his lineup lists and pitching charts in his briefcase, shook an assistant's hand and crossed the field to console the losing coach.
Numbers alone cannot speak of the drama of Andrew Epstein's penalty-kick saves that enabled a Stanford men's soccer program more than 100 years old, to win its first two national championships, in 2015 and 2016.
And numbers mean little in the drama of a close contest for the ultimate prize, like when Taylor Davidson gutted out a three-set victory in the final match of a tied women's tennis championship contest against Oklahoma State in 2016, making Stanford the lowest seed in history at No. 15 to win the title.
And in women's water polo, where Maggie Steffens, the unquestioned best player in the world in 2017, sent a rocket into the top of the cage from five meters out with nine seconds left to give Stanford an 8-7 victory over UCLA and its fifth title in seven years.
No school can match the number of championships and none can match the breadth of championships. At Stanford, No. 115 and any of those that follow, always will mean much more than a number.