UC Irvine Anteaters
|UC Irvine Anteaters|
|University||University of California, Irvine|
|Conference(s)||Big West Conference|
|Athletics director||Mike Izzi|
|Football stadium||Anteater Stadium|
|Basketball arena||Bren Events Center|
|Baseball stadium||Cicerone Field|
|Other arenas||Crawford Hall|
|Fight song||"Anteaters, Go!" and "The Big C"|
|Colors||Blue and Gold
UC Irvine's Athletics program participates in the NCAA's Division I, as members of the Big West Conference and the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. The UC Irvine Anteaters is the nickname used for the sports teams.
UCI fields nationally competitive teams in baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's golf, men's and women's rowing, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's swimming & diving, men's and women's tennis, women's indoor track & field, men's and women's outdoor track & field, men's and women's volleyball, men's and women's water polo, and co-ed sailing. Due to budget cuts in 2009, amid California's economic crisis, five sports were slashed- men's and women's swimming and diving, men's and women's crew, and coed sailing.
The UCI Men's basketball team has had three twenty-win seasons in recent years and four total. The team has never played in the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament. They have made it into the Division II NCAA Tournament twice, and the NIT tournament four times. During the 1982 season led by two-time first team All American Kevin Magee, UCI was ranked as high as 19th in the nation in Division I basketball. In 1986, led by future Houston Rocket and NBA head coach Scott Brooks, the most famous alum from the program, they swept UNLV. In the 2007–08 school year, UCI made a run in the Big West Tournament, beating Long Beach State, Pacific, and UC Santa Barbara in 3 days, before finally losing to Cal State Fullerton in the championship game. In 2010, the Anteaters hired Golden State Warriors assistant Russell Turner as head coach, after parting ways with coach Pat Douglass. In 2013, Turner led the no. 4-seeded Anteaters to the Big West Tournament championship game after upsetting the no. 1-seeded Long Beach State but were defeated by Pacific.
The UC Irvine Women's basketball team had one Division I NCAA Tournament appearance in 1995, when they were champions of their conference, and won the conference tournament; however, they lost in the first round.
|Season||Record||Conference Record||Position in Conference||Postseason|
|2013||20–15||11–7||4th||Big West Tournament Finals|
|2012||12–20||6–10||6th (tie)||Big West Tournament Semifinals|
|2011||13–19||6–10||7th (tie)||Big West Tournament 1st Round|
|2010||14–18||6–10||7th (tie)||Big West Tournament 1st Round|
|2009||12–19||8–8||4th (3-way tie)||Big West Tournament 1st Round|
|2008||18–16||9–7||5th||Big West Tournament Finals|
|2007||15–18||6–8||5th||Big West Tournament Semifinals|
|2006||16–13||10–4||2nd||Big West Tournament Semifinals|
|2005||16–13||8–10||5th||Big West Tournament Quarterfinals|
|2004||11–17||6–12||8th (tie)||Did not qualify|
|2003||20–9||13–5||2nd (tie)||Big West Tournament Semifinals|
|2002||21–11||13–5||1st (tie)||Big West Tournament Semifinals
NIT 1st Round
|2001||25–5||15–1||1st||Big West Tournament Semifinals
NIT 1st Round
|2000||14–14||7–9||3rd in West||Big West Tournament Quarterfinals|
Since the return of baseball in 2002 (the sport was eliminated in 1992 due to state budget cuts), UC Irvine has been ranked as high as #1 in the country and has been at the top of the Big West Conference standings, which is considered by some to be one of the top Division I Baseball Conferences outside the major conferences in the country. In June 2007, the UC Irvine baseball team participated in the College World Series for the first time ever in school history. The Anteaters shocked the nation, and made Series history, becoming the first team to ever win two extra-inning College World Series games back-to-back, by beating (and eliminating) Cal State Fullerton (5–4, F/13), followed by nationally ranked Arizona State (8–7, F/10), only to lose their next game to defending National Champions, and well rested, Oregon State, having played a record 31 innings in three days to finish in the Final Four. The man who helped rebuild the program manager Dave Serrano then left after the 2007 season for Cal State Fullerton, Mike Gillespie then replaced Serrano and is the current manager for the anteaters. Mike Gillespie is most known for leading USC to a national championship in 1998. The team continued its success during the 2009 season, earning the #6 overall National Seed in the 2009 NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament.
Until last year UCI Athletics hosted both a men's and women's crew, which practice in Newport Harbor. As of the summer of 2009, however, they were cut by the Athletics Department who cited budget concerns as the reason for their decision. The Crew continues to row as a club sport and with a new coach, Duvall Hecht, Olympic champion who established rowing at UC Irvine back in 1965. The rowing program hopes to make the best of the financial crisis and return to being an official UCI sport as soon as possible. The UC Irvine Mens Club crew is ranked 9th in the nation this year and have qualified for the national championships in Georgia on May 28–29.
Irvine Soccer has been a key part of the success of the Big West in soccer. In the 2006 season, under leaders Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Anthony Hamilton (Chivas USA), and Cameron Dunn (unsigned), the Anteater Men's soccer team, took a second place finish to UCSB, beating them late in the season, shortly before UCSB went all the way and won the NCAA tournament. That year, the team was ranked as high as number No. 1 in the West region and 7th in the nation. In the 2008 season, the men's soccer team made school history by winning their first ever Big West Championship by beating UC Davis in the semi-finals and UC Santa Barbara in the finals. They would go on to the NCAA tournament where they hosted a second round match-up against the Cal Poly Mustangs. The Anteaters would defeat the Mustangs in front of a history making sold out crowd and move on to the Round of 16 where they would eventually be eliminated by St. John's University in New York. Both the Men's and Women's teams play their home games at Anteater Stadium. In the 2009 season, the Anteaters finished third in the Big West but received an automatic entry to the NCAA tournament after defeating the number two seed Cal Poly Mustangs in the Big West Tournament semi-final and the number one seed UC Santa Barbara in the final. The Anteaters were seeded 16th in the NCAA tournament and received a first round bye. They were eliminated by Stanford 1–0 in the NCAA round of 32.
Both Men's and Women's Volleyball have seen success in the past few years. The women's team has made it to the NCAA Tournament the past two years and the men's team was ranked #1 in the country at one point during the 2003 Season and traditionally is in the top 15 every year. The Men's team finished the 2006 Season losing in the NCAA Final Four national semifinals to Penn State, after winning the MPSF regular season conference title. It was the first Final Four appearance for the men's team.
In 2007, the men won their first National Championship, defeating IPFW 3–1 in the Final. They finished the season with a team record 29 wins.
In 2009, the UCI men's volleyball team won their second National Championship, defeating Southern California.
On May 5, 2012 UC Irvine won its third NCAA men's volleyball title, sweeping Southern California 25-22, 34-32, 26-24 on the Trojans' home court Galen Center. John Speraw was the head men's volleyball coach guiding the Anteaters to three national championships in six years, 2007, 2009, 2012. UCI became just the fifth school to win more than two men's volleyball title all-time. In 2012, Coach John Speraw accepted the head coach position at UCLA while then assistant coach Brian Kniffin accepted the head-coaching position at UC Irvine.
In 2013, the Anteaters defeated Loyola Univesity Chicago 3-0 (26-24, 25-18, 29-27) in the first semifinal of the NCAA championship on May 2, 2013 at Pauley Pavilion and advanced to 2013 national championship match with BYU on May 4, 2013. They defeated the Cougars 3-0 (25–23, 25–22, 26–24) to win a back-to-back championship. Head coach David Kniffin became just the second coach in NCAA men’s volleyball history to win a national title in his first season and junior Connor Hughes, who had 11 kills in the championship match, was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
The women’s 2009 season concluded with a record of (22–8) and a second place finish in the Big West. For the first nine weeks of season, the women maintained a spot on the nation’s top 25 poll.
Water polo 
The most successful athletic program at UCI has been the mens water polo team coached by Ted Newland. Newland is 714–345–5, a collegiate record, as the Anteaters’ head coach from 1966–2005. In his 39 years at the helm, the Anteaters won NCAA Division I championships in 1970, 1982 and 1989. Moreover, the team has been a consistent contender among the nation's top 5 teams in the 40 years UCI has existed and 'The Old Man' coached his players about commitment, dedication & responsibility during his tenure. Many world-class athletes have been affiliated with Newland and his program with 70+ NCAA All-Americans and 13 Olympians being its products. Four of those Olympians recently won the silver medal for the United States team at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Newland became Coach Emeritus in August 2005, and Marc Hunt, former UCI All-American, has been charged with continuing the UCI legacy.
The UCI Sailing Team has been key in keeping a winning tradition for the Anteaters since 1965. They were one of Irvine's founding athletic teams.
They compete in the Inter Collegiate Sailing Association. Within the ICSA they have won a total of eleven national titles: 1990, 1988, 1972 for ICSA Co-ed Dinghy Championships; 1988, 1971, 1969, 1968, 1967 for ICSA Team Racing National Championships; 2005, 1980 for ICSA Sloop National Championships; 1993 for ICSA Men's Single-handed National Championship.
The Pacific Coast Collegiate Conference Championship is the equivalent to most other sports' Big West Championship. UCI Sailing has won twenty two conference championships since 1965.
They practice off rented space on a dock owned by Orange Coast College in Newport Harbor.
The UCI basketball teams competes at the on-campus Bren Events Center. Their volleyball team competes at the nearby Crawford Hall, however, they use the Bren for some games where high attendance is expected. The baseball team plays in Anteater Ballpark, which is located behind the Mesa Parking Structure. Anteater Stadium itself is part of UCI's Crawford Athletics Complex, which houses UCI's track and swimming facilities. The men's and women's crew launch out of a boathouse in the Newport Back Bay, and practice in the Newport Harbor.
Student traditions 
A more recent annual event is Midnight Magic, which occurs on the first day the UC Irvine basketball teams begin official practice. The second Friday of every October, the athletics department hosts a big party for the UCI Students with food, music and games at the Bren Events Center. Then, at midnight, both the men's and women's basketball teams are introduced to the crowd and partake in scrimmages, three-point shooting contests and a slam-dunk contest. Midnight Magic is one of the biggest student events on campus, with over 1,500 people in attendance.
A popular chant among UCI students during athletic events is "Zot, Zot, Zot!" Zot is the sound made by the tongue of the anteater in the comic strip B.C. as it flicks out to catch an ant. This is usually accompanied by the "Rip 'em Eaters" hand sign which is similar to the "Hook 'em Horns" hand sign of the University of Texas at Austin. One of the on-campus eateries is named "B.C.'s Cavern on the Green", named in honor of the comic strip B.C. The Anteater mascot was promoted by 3 students in UCI's founding year, Bob Ernst and Pat Glasgow of the water polo team, and rowing team member Schuyler Bassett. The mascot name was brought to a vote to the student body where irregularities were suspected in the voting process.
Prior to 1985, UCI used University of California, Berkeley's fight song "Big C". From 1985 to 2000, UCI used Anteaters Go! (music by Shannon Roberts and Alan Cates, lyrics by class of 1985 alumni Lori White). In 2000, Marketing Director Blake Sasaki required the Pep Band to use the UC Fight Song as their main fight song, re-branded as "The Big C", which commemorates UCI's historical rivalry with the California State University, Long Beach. It continued in that format until he left in 2006. Currently, the two campus fight songs, often sung at athletic or spirit events, are Anteaters Go! as the main fight song, and the UCI Fight Song as the alternate:
|Anteaters Go!||The Big C|
Go Mighty Anteaters Go
We [a]'re Marching To Victory
Long Let Our Praises Ring
Oh All Hail To Irvine
Fighting for the Gold and Blue
Palms of glory we will win
for Alma Mater true
Long Beach State will soon be routed
By our dazzling "C"
And when we serpentine
Their black will turn to green
In our hour of victory!
U (clap, clap, clap)
See also