|University||University of Central Florida
|NCAA||Division I / FBS|
|Athletic director||Todd Stansbury|
|Football stadium||Bright House Networks Stadium|
|Basketball arena||CFE Arena|
|Ice hockey arena||RDV Sportsplex|
|Baseball stadium||Jay Bergman Field|
|Soccer stadium||UCF Soccer and Track Stadium|
|Lacrosse stadium||UCF Intramural Fields|
|Other arenas||The Venue at UCF|
|Fight song||Charge On|
The UCF Knights athletics programs include the extramural and intramural sports teams of The University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. These teams are collectively referred to as the Knights. UCF participates in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's (NCAA) Division I (FBS for football) as a member of the American Athletic Conference (The American).
UCF, its athletic program, and the university's alumni and sports fans are sometimes jointly referred to as the "UCF Nation," and are represented by the mascot Knightro. The "Knight" was chosen as the university mascot in 1970 by student election. The "Knights of Pegasus" - as it was originally called - was a submission put forth by students, staff, and faculty, who wished to replace UCF's original mascot, the Citronaut, which was a mix between an orange and an astronaut. The Knights were also chosen over "Vincent the Vulture," which was a popular unofficial mascot among students at the time. In 1994, Knightro debuted as the Knights official athletic mascot.
The Knights field 16 varsity teams, 6 men, 9 women and one co-ed sport, that have won numerous national and conference titles. The Knights football team won conference championships in 2007 and 2010, and the Knights women's basketball team won conference titles the 2009 and 2010. The UCF cheerleading team has captured two national titles at the College Cheerleading and Dance Team Nationals, in 2003 and 2007. Athletics facilities on the campus include the 45,323-seat Bright House Networks Stadium, the 10,072-seat CFE Arena, 3,000 seat Venue, Jay Bergman Field, the UCF Soccer and Track Stadium, and the UCF Softball Complex.
- 1 History and overview
- 2 Teams
- 3 Club sports
- 4 Spirit programs
- 5 Athletic facilities
- 6 Notable athletes
- 7 References
- 8 External links
History and overview
The UCF varsity athletic program was a charter member of the Sunshine State Conference in 1975. The school moved up to Division I in 1984. In its first years in D-I, UCF was a member of the American South Conference, merging into the Sun Belt Conference in 1991. Women's sports in Division I played in the New South Women's Athletic Conference until 1990, when the American South began organizing women's sports. In 1992, UCF joined the Trans America Athletic Conference (TAAC) in all D-I sports except football, which remained independent. In 1996, UCF was advanced to I-A (FBS) in football, and initially remained independent in football until becoming a football-only member of the Mid-American Conference in 2001, the same year the TAAC became the Atlantic Sun Conference. UCF joined Conference USA (C-USA) in all sports in 2005, and the American Athletic Conference (The American) in 2013.
The sports teams were originally known as the "Knights of the Pegasus" since their first intercollegiate competitions in 1970. They switched to "Golden Knights" in 1993 as a solution to poor merchandise sales. The mascot of the athletic teams is Knightro, a black knight with gold armor. The university has asked to be identified as UCF when being referenced as opposed to Central Florida. Television networks and other media outlets, most notably ESPN, have been slow to adopt this policy.
In 2007, UCF made major changes to its athletic program. A new "athletic village" on the north end of campus known as Knights Plaza was developed. It included new sports facilities such as the new CFE Arena connected to the existing Venue at UCF and a new 45,000 seat football stadium known as the Bright House Networks Stadium, a new softball complex, and the only Division I indoor football practice facility in the state. This made UCF the first school to ever open a new stadium and arena at the same time, for the 2007-08 season. It also includes Jay Bergman Field and UCF Soccer and Track Stadium. The area was built in a downtown style with four towers of student housing including approximately 1000 beds, retail and restaurant areas, and a new pedestrian mall connecting the front of the new arena to the student union. To mark the start of the new era, the teams were renamed from the "Golden Knights" on May 4, 2007 to the Knights and new logos and football helmets were unveiled.
On April 26, 2006, UCF hired Keith R. Tribble, the Chief Executive Officer of the Orange Bowl Committee, to replace departed Athletic Director Steve Orsini, who took the same job at the Southern Methodist University, a C-USA rival. Before leading the Orange Bowl Committee, Tribble had been an associate AD at the University of Florida and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Men's Intercollegiate Sports
Women's Intercollegiate Sports
- * = The rowing team competes in the Conference USA.
UCF has had some measure of success in football in its short NCAA history. It is the alma mater for NFL stars Brandon Marshall, Daunte Culpepper and Asante Samuel, among others. The Knights fielded an NCAA football team in Division III in 1979, moving up to Division II in 1982 and Division I-AA in 1990, finally matching the rest of its sports programs. In 1996, the program made its foray into Division I-A. The Knights play in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the NCAA's Division I and The American.
The University of Central Florida fielded an official varsity football team for the first time in 1979, under head coach Don Jonas. Since then, the Knights have played in four bowl games, won two conference championships, and produced 2 All-Americans, and eleven current National Football League (NFL) players.
The Knights' most prominent current football rivals have been C-USA Eastern Division foes East Carolina and Marshall, C-USA Western Division opponent Tulsa, and in-state rival South Florida (previously an inter-conference contest when USF was in the Big East and UCF in C-USA; both schools are now conference members in The American and compete in the UCF–USF football rivalry).
George O'Leary became UCF's head football coach in 2004, and his seven teams have had great success. The 2005 team won the school's first division championship, and earned their first trip to a bowl game, in the Knights first season in C-USA. In 2007, the Knights won their second division championship, and earned their first conference championship. During the 2009 campaign, UCF earned its first victory over a ranked opponent and third bowl appearance under O'Leary's watch. In 2010 earned their first top 25 ranking, second conference championship, and winning their first bowl game.. Most recently, UCF won the 2014 fiesta bowl against Baylor University with a score of 52 to 42.
The Knights have won two conference championships in four tries in C-USA. UCF won the C-USA East Division in 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2012. The Knights were a leading program in Division I-AA in the early 1990s. In 1990, UCF became the first school in history to qualify for the I-AA playoffs in its first season of eligibility. The Knights once again made the postseason in 1993, and were selected as the preseason #1 to start the 1994 season.
UCF played its first intercollegiate basketball game before the team even had a nickname. In the Division II era, under Torchy Clark, UCF found great success including a DII Final Four appearance.
UCF has been a member of Division I since 1985, and has advanced to the NCAA tournament 4 times (94, 96, 04, 05), all under coach Kirk Speraw. UCF competed in the Atlantic Sun Conference (formerly called the Trans America Athletic Conference) from 1992 until 2005 when all sports joined C-USA, and plays in the CFE Arena. UCF made their debut in the C-USA Championship Tournament in the 2006 season, falling to Houston in the second round and closing out the season with the program's first losing record (14-15) since 2000-2001. The Knights made a huge turnaround in the 2006-07 season, finishing 2nd in conference play to Memphis with an overall record of 22-9.
The UCF Men's Basketball team played its first exhibition game in the 10,000 seat CFE Arena, with an 86-78 win over the Saint Leo Lions, on November 3, 2007. Their first regular-season game in the CFE Arena was a 63-60 victory over the Nevada on November 11. Their first home C-USA game was against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane on January 11, 2008. The game was won by the Knights in triple overtime. On December 1, 2010, the Knights upset the #16 Florida Gators 57-54 at the new Amway Center in downtown Orlando, giving the Knights their first victory over a top 20 opponent as well as their first victory over the Gators. Following a 10–0 start to the 2010–11 season, the Knights were nationally ranked for the first time in program history. At the time, UCF was one of nine unbeaten teams, and one of only four schools to be ranked in the BCS standings and the AP men's basketball poll.
UCF first joined the AIAW for women's basketball in 1977-78. They won the Division II small college tournament in 1979-80. They were promoted to AIAW Division I in its last year of existence, 1981–82, and made it to that year's District I tournament quarterfinals, before joining the NCAA in 1982-83.
The women's basketball team made the NCAA Division I tournament in 1996 and 1999, and won the TAAC/Atlantic Sun regular-season title in 1999, 2003 and 2005, before joining C-USA. In 2009, UCF's women's basketball team shocked the C-USA by going 11-5 in conference play after going 2-11 in non-conference games and 10-20 the previous year, and swept through the 2009 Conference USA Women's Basketball Tournament, dominating Southern Miss in overtime to win the championship game, 65-54, and earn its third Division I tournament appearance.
The baseball team is led by head coach, Terry Rooney who will entered his first season as head coach in 2009. Jay Bergman had been head coach since 1976 but was fired on May 1, 2008 after allegations arose of sexual harassment towards a male equipment coach. Bergman had a large amount of success in this position, leading UCF to Atlantic Sun Championships in 93, 95, 96, 97, 00, 01, 02, 04 and NCAA Regional Appearances in 89, 93, 95, 96, 97, 00, 01, 02, 04, and brought UCF to a national ranking of #8 in 2001. In honor of his long term success with the Knights, on February 3, 2001, UCF opened and dedicated Jay Bergman Field.
UCF has produced a number of soccer stars. Most notably, Michelle Akers and Kim Wyant. Akers and Wyant were founding players on the United States women's national soccer team from 1985-2000. Akers helped them win the FIFA Women's World Cup in 1991 and 1999, and the 1996 Summer Olympics. Her career was so distinguished that Pelé named her among only two female players (along with teammate Mia Hamm) on the FIFA 100 list of the greatest living soccer players in 2004.
The men's program has developed midfielder Eric Vasquez, who made his professional soccer debut with the Columbus Crew Major League Soccer. Vasquez later played for Miami FC in the United Soccer Leagues' First Division and the Orlando Sharks of the Major Indoor Soccer League before retiring due to injury. As well, former Knights Goalkeeper Ryan McIntosh initially signed a development deal with D.C. United of MLS. After a year with the D.C. United Reserve team, McIntosh signed with the Atlanta Silverbacks of USL Division One, where he led the team to the league final. The Silverbacks ended up losing to the Seattle Sounders. Both players were a part of the 2004 Central Florida Kraze amateur soccer team that won the Premier Development League's championship by defeating the Boulder Rapids Resevers, 1-0 at the UCF soccer stadium.
Former UCF goalkeeper Sean Johnson joined the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer in 2010. He made his pro debut on August 1 and defeated the Los Angeles Galaxy. He was a member of the United States U-20 men's national soccer team which qualified for the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt. On the women's team, Aline Reis, an All-American in her freshman year in 2008, was selected to the Brazil women's national football team for the first time in 2009, playing in a friendly against a local Brazilian team in July. Former women's goalkeeper Lynzee Lee plays for the Buffalo Flash of the W-League. In 2010, both the men's and women's soccer teams advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
The Knights softball program was founded in 2002, and the team officially started competing in the Atlantic Sun Conference in that same year under head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie. Since the program began, the Knights have won two conference tournament champions, and have appeared in the NCAA tournament three times.
Renee Luers-Gillispie, who is in her tenth year with the team, has been the programs only head coach. Through the conclusion of the 2010 season, Gillispie has led the Knights to a record of 341–233–1 during her tenure, and she has an overall win-loss record of 593–437–3 during her seventeen seasons as a head coach.
The men's golf team was formed in 1979, and has appeared in NCAA Regionals 12 times, and have played in for the NCAA Championship four times. The last time the squad reached the championship was in 2009. The 2010 men's golf team were C-USA champions. The women's golf team was founded in 1982, and has made 8 NCAA Regional appearances, and has played for one NCAA Championship in 1996.
Bryce Wallor is the head coach for the men's golf team, and Courtney Trimble is the head coach for the women's team. The Knights men's golf team plays its home matches at the Rio Pinar Country Club. The Knights women's golf team plays its home matches at the RedTail Golf Course. The Knight's golf teams practice at the UCF Golf Practice Facility, located near the UCF campus at the Twin Rivers Golf Club in Oviedo.
Track and field
The Knights women's track and field team has won ten total conference championships, eight in their nine years in the Atlantic Sun Conference, and won the 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 C-USA outdoor title, and the 2011 C-USA indoor title. In 2011, the Knights were nationally ranked for the first time in program history, while at the same time ranking as the top team in the state, rising as high as No. 8 in the polls.
The head coach for the track and field program is Caryl Smith Gilbert, and the assistant coaches are Jeff Chakouian, Paul Brown and LaTonya Loche. Gilbert has coached four All-Americans during her tenure at UCF, including two-time All-American Jackie Coward.
The University of Central Florida through the Recreation and Wellness Center also fields a number of club sports of varying degrees of competitiveness, though most compete only with other teams from the southeastern part of the country. These sports are funded by the university's student government association. The club sports include rugby, wrestling, lacrosse, men's volleyball, ice hockey, team handball, water polo, ultimate frisbee, fencing, cycling, bowling, racquetball, table tennis, triathlon, ultimate frisbee, wheelchair basketball, water skiing, and bass fishing.
UCF's ice hockey team was founded in 1997 and competes as an Independent in Division III of the American Collegiate Hockey Association. The team plays its homes games at the RDV Sportsplex in Maitland, Florida. Since becoming head coach in 1999, Sean Weaver has led the Knights to eight consecutive National Championship appearances, and placed 3rd in the 2007–08 and 2010–11 seasons.
UCF's men's lacrosse teams compete in the SouthEastern Lacrosse Conference of the Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association at the Division I level. The team was founded in 1997 and plays at the university's intramural fields. It is currently coached by James Foote.
The Knights have had one of the better college rugby programs in Florida in recent years. In Fall 2011, UCF reached the finals of the Collegiate Rugby Florida Cup. The Knights finished the 2011–12 season ranked 17th with a record of 12–5, including splitting the season series against No. 6 ranked FSU.
In spring 2013, the Knights won the DI-AA national championship. They defeated Tennessee 31-17 in the round of 16, defeated Clemson 24-20 in the quarterfinals, and defeated Dartmouth 45-38 in the semifinals. UCF won the national championship by defeating Lindenwood in the final 27-25, with a score as the clock counted down to zero, with team captain Gerhard Veit also scoring two tries. “We’ve been labeled underdogs,” said Head Coach Jason Granich “but we have a National Championship.”
UCF has also had success in rugby sevens. UCF rugby won the first tournament in Estero in the Fall 2012 Florida Sevens Championship with a 4–0 record, including a 24–5 win over FSU in the final. The Knights went undefeated and beat UNF 36-15 in the final to win the 2012 Florida Cup.
The UCF cheerleading squad has captured two national titles at the College Cheerleading and Dance Team Nationals, in 2003 and 2007. UCF cheerleading has received a spot in the top three in the country the last six seasons in the national championship, and has earned a top-10 finish 17 times in the last 19 years. In 2008, the WE Original weekly series Cheerleader U followed the UCF cheerleaders through an entire season.
Marching Knights and KnightMoves
The Marching Knights were formed after the start of the football program in 1979, and is the largest and most visible student organization at the university. They are known for their high energy performances, unique and contemporary drill designs, and musical selections ranging from jazz, to pop, to classical. Members experience the thrill of performing for tens of thousands of fans alongside over 300 other outstanding performers at each home UCF football game and select away games, as well as any bowl games.
The universities coordinated dance team, KnightMoves, is considered to be one of the nation's top college programs, and features 12-18 girls each year. The team performs year round at school and athletic events, such as Spirit Splash, pep rally's, and football and basketball games. KnightMoves has finished in the top-10 at the College Cheerleading and Dance Team Nationals for the past two-years.
"Black and gold" is a cheer that is very popular at home games, with one part of the student section yelling "Black!", and the other part of the section answering back with their loudest "Gold!" This can go back and forth for several minutes, with both sides competing to be the louder.
Another popular cheer at games occurs during the national anthem when students loudly exclaim "Knight" during the line, "Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there."
The University of Central Florida Fight Song is titled 'Charge On':
UCF charge onto the field
With our spirit we'll never yield
Black and Gold - Charge right through the line
Victory is our cry, V-I-C-T-O-R-Y
Tonight our Knights will shine!
U! C! F! Knights!
UCF, Let's Go Knights!
UCF charge onto the field
With our spirit we'll never yield
Black and Gold - Charge right through the line
Victory is our cry, V-I-C-T-O-R-Y
Tonight our Knights will shine!
Since 2000, the UCF has invested significant capital and effort in the construction, expansion and improvements of its major sports programs and their facilities. In 2007, UCF opened the new 45,000-seat Bright House Networks Stadium, and the new 10,000 seat CFE Arena. In 2011, the university renovated the Track and Soccer complex, increasing capacity to over 2,000 and adding amenities such as clubhouses and restrooms. Also starting in 2011, UCF plans to start a major renovation of Jay Bergman Field, expanding it to a total capacity at 4,180.
As a competitor in college athletics, UCF has many notable student athletes, coaches and staff members, such as NFL players Joe Burnett, Josh Sitton, Matt Prater, Jah Reid, Jamar Newsome, Kevin Smith, Brandon Marshall, Asante Samuel and Mike Sims-Walker, NBA starting guard Jermaine Taylor, NASCAR driver Aric Almirola, and soccer stars Michelle Akers and Sean Johnson. Currently, more than 50 UCF alumni compete in professional basketball, football, baseball and golf.
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