Western Illinois Leathernecks
|Western Illinois Leathernecks|
|University||Western Illinois University|
|Conferences||The Summit League|
|Athletic director||James (Tommy) Bell|
|Football stadium||Hanson Field|
|Basketball arena||Western Hall|
|Homepage||Official Athletics Website|
The Western Illinois Leathernecks are the teams and athletes that represent Western Illinois University, located in Macomb, Illinois, in NCAA Division I sports. The school's primary conference affiliation is with The Summit League; its football team is a member of the Division I FCS (formerly Division I-AA) Missouri Valley Football Conference. Since the fall semester of 2009, the men's and women's teams have been unified under the Leathernecks name; previously, the women's teams and athletes at the school had been known as the Westerwinds.
WIU's nickname, the Leathernecks, and its mascot, the English bulldog, are taken from the traditions of the United States Marine Corps. The university has had permission to use the official nickname and mascot of the Corps since 1927, when Ray Hanson, then-athletic director and coach of the baseball, basketball and football teams, gained permission to use the symbols as a homage to his service in that military branch during World War I. Western Illinois University is the only non-military university to use a military nickname. WIU is also one of the three major state universities in Illinois to employ a dog as its mascot (the others being the SIU Salukis and the NIU Huskies).
From 1954 to 1963 the Leathernecks appeared in the NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament. Although winning the National Title, the Leathernecks had also walked away with national runner-up titles, and third place finishes.
The football program has had several NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) playoff appearances. They play in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Coach Mark Hendrickson was fired on November 20, 2012.
Western Illinois has been ranked number one once and ranked number two numerous times. The two best chances for an FCS championship were in 1997, when they lost to runner-up McNeese State by two points and beat the FCS champion Youngstown State (coached by Jim Tressel at the time) during the regular season. In 2002, WIU beat national champions Western Kentucky during the regular season 14-0 and lost to that same team at home 31-28 after a missed 63-yard field goal attempt by Mike Scifres that fell just short. In 2010, WIU quarterback Matt Barr, was nominated for the 2010 Walter Payton Award.
|1949||Corn Bowl||Western Illinois||13||Wheaton||0|
|1953||Corn Bowl||Western Illinois||32||Iowa Wesleyan||0|
|1955||Corn Bowl||Luther||24||Western Illinois||20|
|1956||Corn Bowl||Western Illinois||21||Bradley||3|
|1997||Pecan Bowl||McNeese State||14||Western Illinois||12|
|1998||Camellia Bowl||Western Illinois||24||Florida A&M Rattlers||21|
|2003||Pecan Bowl||Colgate||28||Western Illinois||27|
Note: Since 1981, the NCAA Division I FCS Playoffs Regional Championships were commonly referred Pecan Bowl (Midwest Region Championship) and Camellia Bowl (West Region Championship).
The baseball program was coached by Stan Hyman until his sudden death from leukemia in September 2009.
The Leathernecks are one of the few mid-major teams to play every team in the Big 12 Conference. The program's three biggest wins were a 5–4 win over #18 Oklahoma in 2004; a 3–0 win over #7 Long Beach State in 2008; and a 5–3 win over #4 Missouri, also in 2008.
- Don Beebe, National Football League
- David Bowens, National Football League
- Lee Calhoun, Olympic gold medal winner
- Bryan Cox, National Football League
- Don Greco, National Football League
- Rodney Harrison, National Football League
- Edgerton Hartwell, National Football League
- Frisman Jackson, National Football League
- William James, National Football League
- Kosuke Kimura, Major League Soccer
- Gene Lamont, Major League Baseball
- Rob Lazeo, Canadian Football League
- Bruce McCray, National Football League
- Mike McEachern, Canadian Football League
- Russ Michna, United Football League
- Peter Mueller, Canadian Football League
- J.R. Niklos, National Football League
- Paul Reuschel, Major League Baseball
- Rick Reuschel, Major League Baseball
- Mike Scifres, National Football League
- Rich Seubert, National Football League
- Aaron Stecker, National Football League
- Mike Wagner, National Football League
- Jason Williams, National Football League
- Frank Winters, National Football League
- University Relations (2009-06-05). "University comes to decision on nickname unification". Western Illinois University. Retrieved 2009-06-08.
- "The Leatherneck Nickname". Western Illinois Athletics. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
- "Western Illinois football coach won't return". The Register-Mail (Galesburg). GateHouse News Service. November 20, 2012. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
- Western Illinois Athletics (2009-09-05). "Baseball coach Stan Hyman passes away at age 50". Western Illinois University. Retrieved 2009-09-29.