History of Boise State University

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Boise State University was founded in 1932 as Boise Junior College by the Episcopal Church. After two years the school became independent, and in 1940 it moved from St. Margaret's Hall to its present site, along the south bank of the Boise River, between Capitol Boulevard and Broadway Avenue.

In 1965 it gained four-year status as Boise College and began awarding baccalaureate degrees. Four years later, the school joined the Idaho state system of higher education and was renamed Boise State College. In 1974, Boise State gained university status to become Idaho's third university.

  • 1892 – St. Margaret's School was founded in Christ Chapel (Boise, Idaho), a forerunner to Boise Junior College
  • 1932 – BSU was founded as Boise Junior College by the Episcopal Church at St. Margaret's Hall
  • 1933 – first season of football
  • 1934 – Episcopal Church ends its affiliation and board of directors after assumes leadership.
  • 1940 – campus is moved to present site on the south bank of the Boise River
    – formerly the Boise Airport(photo – 1930s)(photo – 1940s)
    • Administration Building opens, built by WPA(photo – 1940s)
    • College Field (1940–49), the first football stadium, opens at site of present Student Union Building – (photo 1)(photo 2)
  • 1942 – old Student Union opens – (photo – 1940s)(photo – 1950s)
  • 1947 – after a year as an assistant, Lyle Smith is elevated to head coach of the football team.
    • overall record of 156-26-8 (.848) with five undefeated seasons, 16 conference titles, and a national JC championship (1958);
      – steps down after 1967 season to become athletic director
  • 1950 – first Bronco Stadium (1950–69), on present site – replaced in 1970
  • 1951 – completion of first dormitories: Driscoll Hall (men) and Morrison Hall (women)
  • 1955 – Bronco Gymnasium constructed – (photo)
  • 1958 – football team wins NJCAA national championship
  • 1964 – Library opens – (photo)
  • 1965 – baccalaureate degrees introduced; becomes Boise College
    • Alumni Association is formed, enrollment reaches 5,000
  • 1966 – Liberal Arts Building constructed – (photo 1)(photo 2)
  • 1967 – new Student Union Building constructed – (photo)
    • Chaffee Hall dormitories constructed – (photo)
    • final football season as a two-year school
  • 1968 – football team begins competition as a four-year school, competing as an independent in NAIA for two seasons
  • 1969 – state system of higher education assumes control, becomes Boise State College
  • 1970 – Construction of multiple buildings: Business, Vocational Education, and Towers dormitories
  • 1971 – Begins publishing the Western Writers Series, monographs focusing on authors of the American Frontier and American West[1]
  • 1971 – expansion of Student Union Building (1967); Auxiliary Gymnasium completed
  • 1972 – four-story addition to Library (1964) completed
  • 1974 – university status granted, becomes Boise State University
  • 1975 – Bronco Stadium adds upper deck to east side: 20,000 capacity – (photo)
  • 1976 – Tony Knap departs for UNLV, UCLA assistant coach Jim Criner is named head football coach for 1976 season
  • 1978 – Science/Nursing building opens
  • 1979 – seven-story Education building dedicated in January
    • enrollment reaches 10,000
  • 1980 – construction of BSU Pavilion begins in February, (photo 1981)
    – displaces tennis courts and baseball field – (photo – 1971) (photo – late 1970s)
  • 1981 – Lyle Smith retires after 35 years at BSU, last 13 as athletic director.
  • 1982 – BSU Pavilion (multi-purpose arena) opens in late May – (photo – mid 1980s)
    • tennis courts relocated to former baseball infield
  • 1983 – Jim Criner departs for Iowa State, assistant Lyle Setencich promoted to head football coach for 1983 season
  • 1984 – Velma V. Morrison Center for performing arts opens on April 7
  • 1986 – Blue AstroTurf field installed at Bronco Stadium, the first (and only) of its kind
    • football team posts first losing record since 1946
  • 1987 – Washington assistant coach Skip Hall becomes head football coach, following the resignation (Nov. 1986) of Lyle Setencich[2]
  • 1990 – football team reaches Division I-AA semifinals
  • 1992 – first doctoral degree approved: Ed.D. in curriculum and instruction
    • enrollment reaches 15,000; the state's largest
  • 1993 – Pokey Allen from Portland State becomes head football coach, following the resignation (Nov. 1992) of Skip Hall[3]
  • 1994 – football team wins Big Sky title and reaches the I-AA national championship game
  • 1995 – final football season in Big Sky Conference and Division I-AA
  • 1996 – athletic program moves to Big West Conference and NCAA Division I-A.
    • wrestling remains in the Pac-10, as an affiliate member.
    • Head football coach Pokey Allen dies of cancer in late December
    • bachelor's programs established in civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering
  • 1997 – Bronco Stadium expansion in south corners increases seating capacity to 30,000
  • 1998 – Houston Nutt departs for Arkansas, Oregon assistant coach Dirk Koetter becomes head football coach for 1998 season
  • 1999 – football team wins its first Big West title and the Humanitarian Bowl against Louisville
  • 2000 – football team wins second Big West title and Humanitarian Bowl against UTEP
  • 2001 – athletics moves to the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), wrestling remains in the Pac-10, as affiliate member
  • 2002 – football team wins first WAC title and Humanitarian Bowl against Iowa State
  • 2003 – football team wins second WAC title and Fort Worth Bowl over host TCU
  • 2004 – enrollment reaches 18,456
    • BSU Pavilion renamed Taco Bell Arena in June ($4 million for 15 years)
    • football team goes undefeated in regular season for the first time as a four-year school, wins its third straight WAC title and finishes 9th in the BCS rankings, but lost the Liberty Bowl in Memphis to Louisville in a match-up of the two best non-BCS teams that year.
  • 2005 – football team wins fourth straight WAC title, but loses MPC Computers Bowl at home to Boston College.
  • 2006 – BSU wins the WAC Commissioner's Cup for the 2005–06 academic year.
    • Dan Hawkins departs for Colorado, assistant Chris Petersen promoted to head football coach for 2006 season
    • senior Ben Cherrington (157 lb.) wins NCAA national championship in wrestling; Cherrington and Tyler Sherfey
      are named the 2006 Pac-10 Conference Wrestler of the Year and Newcomer of the Year, respectively.
    • football team is undefeated for the second time in three years, wins fifth straight WAC title
      and earns first BCS berth in the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma in January 2007.
  • 2007 – football team wins the Fiesta Bowl in January in a thrilling overtime finish. BSU finished the 2006 season as the only undefeated team in the nation (after Ohio State lost to Florida in the national championship game), and placed #5 in the final AP poll, with one first place vote, BSU's highest ranking ever.
    • State of Idaho approves funding for a $35.9 million addition to Bronco Stadium. Expansion replaces the original press box (1970), adds luxury suites, club seats, and loge boxes in time for the 2008 season. The new capacity is 32,000.
    • BSU sells the film rights of the 2006 season to Michael Hoffman and Iron Circle Pictures, who will produce a documentary and later a feature film based on the story of the football program.
    • 2006 football team wins two ESPY Awards in the categories of "Best Game" (2007 Fiesta Bowl) and "Best Play" (Game-winning Statue of Liberty play).
    • Fiesta Bowl MVP Jared Zabransky appears as the cover athlete of the popular EA Sports video game NCAA Football 08.
    • junior Luke Shields is one of four male tennis players representing the U.S. at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro.
    • Boise State celebrates its 75th anniversary and announces "Destination Distinction," a campaign to raise $175 million.
  • 2008 – Broncos join the "10-20-20" club (10 football wins, 20 men's basketball wins, 20 women's basketball wins) for the 2007–08 season, only the 20th school since 1980 to achieve the feat.
  • 2009 – undefeated football team retained the WAC title and again played TCU in the postseason, in the Fiesta Bowl, and BSU won 17-10.
  • 2010 – announced the hiring of Leon Rice as head basketball coach on March 26. Rice spent 11 years as an assistant at Gonzaga in Spokane; he replaced Greg Graham, relieved of his duties earlier in the month.


  1. ^ Western Writers Series: About
  2. ^ L.A. Times.com – Setencich Resigns – 1986-11-24 – accessed 2010-04-27
  3. ^ Seattle Times.com – "Hall Quits as Boise State Coach," – AP – 1992-11-22 – accessed 2010-04-26
  4. ^ College of Engineering timeline – accessed 2010-05-02

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