North Carolina racked up its 140 points — 10.5 points above runner-up Stanford — through NCAA championships by the women’s soccer and lacrosse teams and top-five finishes by the tennis and field hockey teams.
“It is recognition of outstanding achievement for our women’s program that has been very good for so many years,” Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham said.
Women’s soccer coach Anson Dorrance said the accolade was a University-wide effort.
“Of all the teams that contributed … (it) demonstrates that we’ve got a tremendous collection of student athletes and coaches and administrators here that are committed to success in women’s sports,” Dorrance said.
In the cup’s three-year history, UNC is the second women’s program to earn the honor. Stanford won the women’s division in the award’s first two years.
Dorrance also said he was proud UNC was the first ACC school to win the award, but the prize brings more than just bragging rights. It’s also accompanied by a more tangible $200,000 check.
Chris O’Neill, the director of digital public relations campaigns for Capital One, said though the award is intended for a specific use, the company has no official stipulations for whether the money is allocated for men’s or women’s athletic programs.
“It is designed for student athlete scholarships,” he said. “It’s up to the university how they want to use it, but it would be in the context of scholarships for student athletes.”
Dorrance and Cunningham also applauded the award for its equality.
The cup has offered a women’s award as well as a men’s award since its inception, and the monetary compensation is equal for both.
“I think this demonstrates that the Capital One group is committed to sort of a gender equity because they’re demonstrating that they’re willing to not only have a men’s winner, but also a women’s winner,” Dorrance said.
And for some, that equality is more valuable than anything that could go in a wallet.