Texas Athletics Brings Home the Directors’ Cup—Again

Alongside the 2022 Directors’ Cup is Chris Plonsky, Texas Athletics chief of staff and executive senior associate athletics director.

Led by a new class of stars, including some of the best to ever wear burnt-orange, the Longhorns have reached historic heights—rolling up seven national titles over two seasons on their way to back-to-back Learfield Directors’ Cups, the award given annually to the country’s best athletic program.   

Before the repeat, no school has been able to crack Stanford’s 25-year grip on the award. In fact, only one other university can even lay a claim to the honor: North Carolina, which won the inaugural award in 1993. Texas, often referred to as “The Joneses,” has officially earned the name.  

While UT’s run to win the first cup was impressive, the Longhorns outdid themselves this past year, finishing top two in more than half of the school’s 18 Division I programs. The result is a shattered record book with 11 Big 12 conference titles and a staggering 14 sports landing in the top 10. 

Noticeably missing is the powerhouse football program, which sputtered to a 5-7 finish, far outside the rankings. Stepping up in their place is a class of champions who will walk off campus and directly into the UT Hall of Honor.   

(Oh, and don’t look now, but here come the major sports, each rebuilding with promising sophomore coaches—Texas basketball fresh off their first March Madness win in eight years, and football landing a generational recruit with freshman Arch Manning.)  

In an incredible 2022 spring semester where the UT Tower stayed lit, Texas won national championships in men’s track, women’s tennis, rowing, and men’s golf. It’s the most national titles UT has won in a single athletic year, tying a school record from 1985–86. Here are some of Texas’ most prominent new alumni.  

Peyton Stearns, Women’s Tennis

Peyton Stearns  

Women’s Tennis  

The first Longhorn to claim the NCAA Singles title, Stearns leaves Texas as arguably the program’s greatest player ever, earning 2022 ITA National Player of the Year honors as well as the 2022 Honda Sport Award for Tennis, the first Longhorn to win the award in any sport since 2016. Stearns turned pro after two seasons, back-to-back NCAA team championships, an overall 51-10 singles record, and a 42-17 mark in doubles. 

“Her impact is unparalleled in the annals of Texas Women’s Tennis history,” Head Coach Howard Joffe said in a press release. “Anyone with a pulse will be rooting for Peyton Stearns to rise to the top in her pro career.” 

Ivan Melendez, Baseball

Ivan Melendez  


Melendez slugged his way to the best offensive season in Longhorn history, smashing the school’s single-season home run record with 32 moon shots, blasts typically so towering he carries the nickname the “Hispanic Titanic.”   

His historic junior season was recognized with the Golden Spikes Award, as he became the first in the school’s prestigious program to earn the “Heisman of baseball.” He swept every other top award, earning the 2022 Dick Howser Trophy and player of the year honors from Collegiate Baseball and Perfect Game/Rawlings.  

“He’s the greatest player that ever player college baseball in my opinion,” shortstop Trey Faltine told The Daily Texan. “Just being able to be around him every day is special.”  

The team finished with their second consecutive appearance in the College World Series, an event so thoroughly dominated by Texas, that they have now appeared in more than half of every CWS. Texas has appeared in 38 of 75 all-time CWS, winning six.

Pierceson & Parker Coody, Men’s Golf

Parker & Pierceson Coody; Cole Hammer  

Men’s Golf  

For the first time since Jordan Spieth, ’12, was roaming the Forty Acres, the men’s golf team captured the national championship with a stacked roster that included the “Three Amigos”: Parker Coody, BS ’22; Pierceson Coody, BS ’22; and Hammer, BS ’22. 

The senior trio was determined to win it all after falling short in the NCAA match play finals as freshmen in 2019. The twin Coody brothers also bounced back from identical hairline fractures in their right arms, leading Texas to its fourth title in men’s golf. 

“They’re three of the best players who have ever played at Texas,” Head Coach John Fields told the Golf Channel, “and that’s saying a lot.” 

Janae Jefferson, Softball

Janae Jefferson  


After leading Texas to the program’s highest finish as 2022 national runner-up, Jefferson leaves as the school’s all-time hits leader (357) and ranks ninth in Division I history. She holds the UT records for doubles (53), starts (262), and has a career average of .431, tops in both Texas and Big 12 history.  

“It’s on the record books,” Head Coach Mike White told the Austin American-Statesman. “She’s worked really hard; she takes a lot of pride in her game.” 

Jefferson, BS ’22, joined Cat Osterman, BA ’07, Life Member, as the only Texas players to earn All- 
American honors four times. She is also the first since Osterman to represent Team USA and helped secure the gold medal at the 2022 World Games. 

Tripp Piperi (front) with Men’s Indoor Track & Field Team

Tripp Piperi  

Men’s Indoor/Outdoor Track & Field  

For the second time in his career, Piperi, BS ’21, was crowned the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field shot put champion. His title helped boost the Texas Men’s Outdoor Track & Field team to their best finish in 25 years, as national runner-up. The nine-time All-American has recorded both the indoor and outdoor shot put records at Texas, topping the Longhorn many consider the greatest shot put thrower of all time, Ryan Crouser, BA ’15, MS ’16. Each man represented Team USA at the 2022 World Championships, but for Piperi, he now views the athlete he once looked up to a little differently. 

“I’m (getting to) a point where, in the next few years, I’m gonna be competing with him all the time,” Piperi told The Daily Texan. “I look up to more of his mental fortitude when he’s competing.” 

CREDITS: UT Athletics (5); National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics


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