Akron named the MAC's top men's athletics program for first time


Athletics at the University of Akron

Excellent performances by UA's indoor track, basketball and soccer teams enabled the University to claim its first Reese Trophy, awarded to the Mid-American Conference's top men's athletics program.

The University of Akron has been named the 2013-14 Mid-American Conference Reese Trophy winner as the league's top men's athletics program, the conference office announced Tuesday.

The 2013-14 Reese Trophy is the first in program history for the Zips, who joined the MAC in 1992. Akron's third-place finish last year was its previous best finish.

Tom Wistrcill

Tom Wistrcill

"To win this award for the first time -- and to clinch it before the spring season concludes -- is a tremendous statement about the efforts of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and supporters at The University of Akron," Director of Athletics Tom Wistrcill said. "We identified winning our first Reese Trophy as a major goal in IMPACT 2020, the strategic vision for Zips Athletics that was released in December, and we thank everyone who contributed to this success."

Competing in seven MAC-sponsored men's sports, the Zips needed performances from just five to lock up the award, as baseball and outdoor track and field are still competing. UA entered the spring championship season with a 10.3 average, 1.47 points higher than second-place Western Michigan. Akron's final score, as well as those of the remaining 11 conference programs, will be announced at a later date.

Strong start

The Zips opened the year with a strong start during the fall schedule thanks to men's soccer, men's cross country and football.

The men's soccer program earned its 10th MAC Tournament title and ninth-consecutive regular season crown en route to the squad's 28th all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Akron posted a 17-4-1 record, spent the entire campaign ranked in the top-25 nationally and achieved a No. 7 designation in the final poll of the regular season.

With four runners finishing in the top 14, the cross country team posted its best finish ever at the conference championship meet. The Zips finished runner-up in the event, 37 points ahead of third place. A program-best four Zips earned Second-Team All-MAC honors.

Zips fansThe Zips' football team finished the season with a 5-7 mark, going 4-4 in MAC play. Akron finished tied for third in the MAC East with Ohio thanks to wins in three-straight and four of the last five games to end the year. Seven Zips earned All-MAC honors.

Winning in winter

During the winter, the men's indoor track and field team won its third indoor MAC championship in the last four years, coming from behind to down host Kent State in the next-to-last event.

The men's basketball program posted its ninth-straight season of 21 or more wins to finish the campaign with a 21-13 mark overall, 12-6 in MAC play. The Zips finish second in the East Division and advanced to the MAC Tournament semifinals for a ninth-straight season.

A promising spring

The men's golf team opened the spring championship schedule with a second-place finish at the MAC Championship earlier this month. Two Zips finished in the top-five to help Akron tie the program mark for best finish at the MAC Championship event.

The men's outdoor track and field team will look for its fourth-straight outdoor title this weekend at the MAC Championships in Athens, Ohio, while the baseball team will play a three-game series at Kent State beginning Thursday with a spot in the MAC Tournament on the line.

The award is named for former MAC Commissioner David E. Reese, the first MAC Commissioner and served the conference from its inception in 1946 to 1964. For the Reese and Jacoby Trophies, points are awarded based on each school's finish, with the overall total divided by the number of sports sponsored by each school. An institution may count either indoor track and field, or outdoor track and field, but not both.

The Jacoby Trophy, awarded to the top women's athletics program, will be announced at a later date. Entering the spring championship season, the Zips were in seventh place, just 1.75 points out of first (Central Michigan).

Source: GoZips.com

Reese Trophy standings

Reese Trophy standings

Akron has claimed the Reese Trophy early, on the strength of its results through the winter sports.