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Nebraska flirting with worst-ever finish in Director's Cup

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LINCOLN — After dropping in the standings Thursday afternoon, Nebraska athletics could be headed for its worst-ever finish in the Learfield Director’s Cup.

Despite strong spring performances from its softball and women’s track and field teams, NU fell to 46th overall. Its worst-ever finish, in 2018-19, was 48th, but several teams currently just behind the Huskers, including No. 47 TCU, No. 49 Wake Forest and No. 51 Maryland, are poised to pass the Big Red once Cup points from the NCAA’s baseball postseason, which continues through late June with the College World Series, are passed out.

Should NU fall to 49th, that’d the lowest finish since the Director’s Cup began with the 1993-94 NCAA athletics season. Nebraska finished in the top 20 for the first eight years of the Cup, dropped to 22nd in 2001-02 and hasn’t been above 30th since 2015-16, when NU finished 27th.

Nebraska Athletic Director Trev Alberts’ contract has an escalating bonus tied to NU’s Cup performance. A portion of the bonus kicks when the Huskers finish at least 30th. Last year, Nebraska finished 35th.

The Cup awards points to each school that makes the postseason of a given sport. The national champion is awarded 100 points, and points descend incrementally from there. Schools can score in up to 19 sports, four of which must be men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and baseball. Schools with more sports, especially niche Olympic sports, tend to do better.

Regardless of the results at the CWS, Texas has already clinched the Director’s Cup title for a second year in a row, with perennial powerhouse Stanford in second. Michigan, third nationally, is the top Big Ten team, followed by Ohio State (fourth nationally), Wisconsin (22nd), Minnesota (27th) and Northwestern (32nd).

Nebraska is ninth in the Big Ten, just behind Rutgers, which is 45th nationally. Iowa is 54th nationally and 13th in the league.

The Huskers got no points from their football, men’s basketball and baseball teams this season. None of the three were close to qualifying for the NCAA postseason, and Husker baseball failed to qualify for the Big Ten’s eight-team conference tournament.

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