Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage last month restated the Cavaliers’ 10-year goal of winning 70 ACC and 12 national championships. At first blush, the numbers are clearly ambitious. The conference record book reveals just how ambitious.
Indeed, North Carolina is the only ACC school ever to approach that success. From 1988-89 through 1997-98, the Tar Heels claimed 85 league and 15 national titles.
But remember, during that decade the ACC had eight or nine members. Today, 15 schools are chasing the conference’s 25 annual championships, though not all participate in each of those sports.
Some other nuggets that show the scope of Littlepage’s goal, first voiced in 2002 as part of the athletic department’s strategic plan.
# Virginia won a school-best seven ACC titles in 2007-08 and 2009-10. The Cavaliers would have to average seven for a decade to reach 70.
# During the first decade after Littlepage revealed the 70/12 aim, 2002-03 through 2011-12, the Cavaliers won 52 and seven, their best 10-year stretch. Now two years into the second decade, Virginia is at 10 and one.
# The only other school with 50-plus ACC championships in a decade was Maryland, that in the conference’s first 10 years, 1953-54 through 1962-63, when the Terps collected 56, largely due to domination in soccer, wrestling and indoor and outdoor track.
# By most any standard, Virginia enjoyed comprehensive athletic success in 2013-14, finishing fourth in the Directors’ Cup all-sports standings, reaching the Sweet 16 in men’s basketball, and placing among the top five nationally this spring in baseball, women’s lacrosse, women’s rowing, and men’s and women’s tennis. Yet the Cavaliers captured “only” five ACC championships and did not win a NCAA title.
After charting annual titles for each of the ACC’s 61 seasons — a research project only the incomparable Patrick Stevens can appreciate — I can offer some other notes.
# North Carolina won an ACC-record 12 conference championships in 1994-95: women’s cross country, field hockey, women’s soccer, men’s and women’s swimming, men’s and women’s indoor track, men’s and women’s outdoor track, wrestling, women’s basketball and men’s golf. The league’s other eight schools that year won a combined 11.
# The Tar Heels earned 11 ACC titles in 1993-94, meaning that in a two-year stretch they hogged 23 of the conference’s 46 championships.
# Conversely, 2013-14 marked the first time UNC did not claim an ACC title. Duke now owns the longest streak, with at least one conference championship each year since 1978-79.
# Virginia’s most recent year without an ACC title was 1990-91. Similarly, Florida State has won at least one championship every year since joining the ACC in 1991-92, with multiple titles in all but two of those years.
# The Cavaliers joined the ACC in 1954 but did not win a championship until 1962, in men’s lacrosse. Their first women’s title was 1981’s in cross country.
# The first ACC women’s championship was women’s tennis in the spring of 1977, captured by North Carolina.
# As noted in a recent post, Virginia Tech’s 18 ACC titles in its 10 years of membership more than double the combined total of Miami (seven) and Boston College (one). The Hurricanes also joined the conference in 2004-05, the Eagles a year later.
# Finally, the all-time totals for ACC team championships, outright or shared: North Carolina 250, Maryland 199, Duke 125, Clemson 122, Virginia 120, North Carolina State 120, Florida State 76, Wake Forest 46, Georgia Tech 42, Virginia Tech 18, Miami 7, South Carolina 4, Notre Dame 2, Syracuse 1, Boston College 1.
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