[ UC Davis]
The University of California at Davis is a jock juggernaut. It has more varsity athletes (765) than any other Division II school, 32 club teams—including snow-boarding—and diverse intramurals in which more than 14,000 of its 27,000 students take part. Last year it earned its fifth NCAA D-II all-sports trophy since 1996 and had its division-record 32nd straight winning football season (10-3). Set in a city of 56,000 that has a small-town feel, the school is academically solid (the most recent class of incoming athletes had an average SAT of 1,130) and recreationally innovative (inner-tube water polo was invented here in 1969). SI WOMEN has twice named it the best D-II school for female athletes. "I've worked at Washington, Washington State and George Washington, and at those places there is a pecking order," says women's basketball coach Sandy Simpson. "Here there is true gender equity."
The relaxed campus hosts huge Ultimate Frisbee tournaments and annual dachshund races. Serious change may be coming, however: Davis is considering joining the Big West Conference—in Division I.