must admit to some surprise earlier this year at finding myself president of what Sports Illustrated declared to be the No. 3 Jock School in America. I still am not sure whether the surprise came from Stanford's being called a "Jock School," its not being No. 1, or my being its president. Be that as it may. While my exposure to and relationship with Stanford athletics has grown considerably since it began with women's basketball at Maples Pavilion on March 21, 1992, I certainly can claim no role in the successes of our program during the last five years. I cannot even keep up with thirty-three Division I varsity sports, let alone intramural activities.
At the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, there were forty-nine Stanford-affiliated coaches and athletes, including the head coaches of three United States teams, and Stanford-related athletes accounted for sixteen gold medals, one silver, and one bronze. At the intercollegiate level, the record is equally remarkable. Stanford has won the Sears Directors Cup, which honors the all-around champion in NCAA Division I sports, the last three years.
Last year, our women's and men's cross country teams, our women's and men's volleyball teams, and our women's and men's tennis teams all won NCAA championships. That is evidence of Stanford's Title IX commitment--we allow men access to athletic success equal to that of women. (Cardinal women have won an NCAA-best twenty-two team championships.) It also was the first time in history that a single school won six NCAA titles. That gave Stanford a total of twenty-one NCAA team titles in the last five years: four, four, five, two, and last year's six. Individual Stanford athletes won twenty-one NCAA titles in 1992-93, the second-most in a single year by any school in history. The only higher mark? It was twenty-nine, won the year before by...Stanford.
One of the challenges at Stanford is striking the proper balance between athletic and academic excellence. Indeed, I think one of the threats to universities is that pursuit of glory on the athletic field can intolerably add to the pressures in the classroom. Stanford is not immune to this and must remain ever vigilant. I am also gravely concerned about the ever increasing commercialization of college athletics that is due to funding pressures and the desire not to divert university funds from academic programs.
The balance is delicate, though it seems to me that we have still got it just about right. Each quarter, more than one hundred of our varsity athletes achieve a GPA of 3.5 or higher. When one considers the commitment of time and effort these athletes make, that is truly remarkable. The most impressive thing about our student athletes is not that they are talented or that they are intelligent; both are necessary, but not sufficient, to excel at Stanford. The most impressive thing is their discipline, their perseverance, their organization, their teamwork.