Who better to discuss the future of college sports than a Soccer America Freshman Player of the Year, a Golden Spikes Award winner, a Big Ten Men’s Basketball MVP, an NCAA Women’s Basketball Player of the Year, a SportsCenter Anchor and a Heisman Trophy winner? In case you couldn’t guess, I was referring to Brandi Chastain, Robin Ventura, Clark Kellogg, Lisa Leslie, Rece Davis, and Doug Flutie. These legends of the turf and hardwood (and news desk) joined Capital One Chief Marketing Officer, Bill McDonald, to introduce the Capital One Cup – “a year long quest quest to claim the ultimate bragging rights in collegiate sports.”
Dubbed a “shining light on the good that can come from when sports and academics come together” by CBS Sports college basketball analyst and former Ohio State basketball star, Clark Kellogg, the Capital One Cup promises to alter our views on college athletics and broaden the appeal of all sports. The Capital One Cup recognizes athletic excellence for Division I programs’ performances across 13 different team sports and places the most emphasis on winning national championships. Schools will earn points based on their teams’ top 10 finishes in NCAA Division I play and standings will be released at the end of the fall, winter and spring athletics seasons. In addition to a shiny silver trophy, Capital One will award $200,000 for each winning university (two schools will win – one for male sports, one for female sports). These funds will encourage student athletes to enroll in grad school to continue their education after their athletic careers are over.
Each athlete on the the Capital One Cup advisory board had their own individual collegiate stories and lessons to share, however one theme ruled the day: we must boost interest in sports that do not receive enough attention and in doing so the enthusiasm of college sports fans will improve exponentially. Former Santa Clara standout and member of the 1999 World Cup Champion U.S. team, Brandi Chastain, explained that this program “will highlight all athletes regardless of sport and give them the recognition they deserve.”
I was fortunate enough to get some face time with 1984 Heisman Trophy winner from Boston College, Doug Flutie. Flutie’s Hail Mary pass to upset Miami in the fall of ’84 cemented him as an NCAA legend and Doug soon went on to have an excellent professional career in the NFL, however none of it would be possible without his humble beginnings in college.
Keep track of the Capital One Cup standings throughout the athletic year at http://www.capitalonecup.com/.