It's not only Stanford's women's basketball that is at the top of their game, after stopping the UConn women's team streak of winning 90 basketball games in a row.
Stanford University has 28 sports teams ranked in top 15 of their sport in the US, including football as well as basketball, according to Bob Bowlsby, the university's athletic director. No other university comes close to this performance for such an extended periods of time.
"A great many contributions to Stanford are the result of the good public relations for the university that result from our successful sports programs," Bowlsby told me today.
Stanford's football team is playing in its 2nd straight bowl game Monday night against Virginia Tech. It ranks 5th in national collegiate football polls, and could move high if it wins the Orange Bowl and Auburn loses in its championship match against Oregon a week later.
Women's teams overall have actually done better than men's sports teams according to Bowlsby.
One advantage is the ability to give a certain number of full athletic scholarships to high school stars who also display academic superiority, Bowlsby told me today in a telephone interview.
Stanford received 31,000 applications last year for 1800 places in the freshman class, includiing many great athletic prospects who are attracted to the university for its excellence in sports.
By contrast, Ivy League universities such as Harvard and Yale are prohibited from granting scholarships just for athletics.
In fact, Stanford's athletics department has won the Directors Cup, given by the college athletics directors association, for every year of the last 16 -- a truly amazing record for one of t he nation's academically superior universities.
When informed of the overall huge size of Stanford's football team( the subject of my blog yesterday), Bowlsby said; "How would you like to be feeding these guys at the Fontainbleau hotel every day?"
As we talked both Bowlsby and I were watching ESPN discuss the possibility that Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh might be leaving Stanford for the coaching piosition at Michigan, where he was once an All American quarterback and runner-up for the Heisman trophy -- or even coveted by the San Francisco Forty-Niners.
Harbaugh has been offered a new contract rumored to be worth $3 million a year, but has not yet begun negotiations, according to press reports. His leaving would be a serious blow to Stanford's renaissance in football and its national prominence.
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