With 113 NCAA championships — more than any other university — UCLA is widely considered to be the nation’s premier intercollegiate athletics program, and the campus enjoyed another year of remarkable achievement during 2015–16.
Our student-athletes continue to succeed at the highest level in athletic competition and in the classroom. In June, 116 earned their degrees, and for the academic year, student-athletes earned Director’s Honor Roll acclaim (achieving at least a 3.0 GPA for an academic quarter) more than 850 times.
Two key measures of student-athletes’ performance in the classroom are the graduation success rate and the academic progress rate, and UCLA remained among the nation’s leading institutions on both measures. Our overall graduation success rate of 86 percent was second among all Pac-12 universities, and all of our intercollegiate teams maintained multiyear academic progress rates over 960 on a scale of 1,000, including three that recorded perfect scores: women’s golf (for the seventh consecutive year), men’s water polo and men’s volleyball.
We also added to our record-setting number of national championships thanks to a historic season by the men’s water polo team. The squad posted an unblemished 30–0 record, just the fourth undefeated season in NCAA men’s water polo history, and the season culminated in the team’s second consecutive championship and the 10th in program history. In the title game, the Bruins defeated third-ranked USC, 10–7, in front of a home crowd at UCLA’s Spieker Aquatics Center.
Six other UCLA teams finished among the nation’s top five in 2015–16: beach volleyball (competing in the sport’s first year of NCAA competition), women’s golf, gymnastics, men’s tennis, men’s volleyball and women’s water polo.
Our women’s basketball team advanced to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament, the program’s best post-season result since 1999. And our gymnastics and men’s tennis teams both claimed Pac-12 conference championships.
Given our widespread success across all sports, UCLA finished No. 6 in the standings for the Learfield Directors’ Cup, which honors NCAA athletic programs’ overall excellence. It was the fifth consecutive year that UCLA finished among the top 10 and the 21st time overall in the award’s 23-year history.
In addition to the remarkable performances by our teams, several student-athletes earned individual honors and accolades. Three were named national player of the year for their respective sports: Garrett Danner in men’s water polo, Bronte Law in women’s golf and Mackenzie McDonald, who won both singles and doubles titles (with teammate Martin Redlicki) in men’s tennis. And gymnast Danusia Francis claimed an NCAA championship on the balance beam.
The past year also saw significant progress on three projects that will ultimately provide resources to elevate our athletic program for years to come. In August, we broke ground on two state-of-the-art practice facilities located southwest of Pauley Pavilion: the Wasserman Football Center and Mo Ostin Basketball Center, both of which are scheduled for completion by the end of 2017. UCLA also received a $5 million lead gift from the Annenberg Foundation that will help fund construction of Wallis Annenberg Stadium. The new venue, which will transform the North Athletic Field, will be the future home of our soccer programs and host club sports events.
Another special moment was a nod to UCLA’s extraordinary athletic legacy and one of our most celebrated Bruins. In March, on the plaza between the J.D. Morgan Center and Wooden Center, we unveiled a “42” monument. The final piece of our Jackie Robinson Athletics and Recreation Complex, the bronze sculpture is intended both to honor a true Bruin hero and to elicit conversation about the nature of true courage and sacrifice. It will serve as a reminder to every person who traverses our campus of Robinson’s profound observation, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”