York's former teams were known as the York Yeomen and York Yeowomen, but changed their name to the gender-neutral Lions in 2003. In 2008, the York Lion's men's soccer team won the Canadian men's soccer championship, York's first national championship in any sport in 18 years, and their first soccer championship since 1977.
The York Lions women's ice hockey team competes in the 10-team Ontario University Athletics conference and finished their 2010-11 season with an 11-16 record. The team's head coach is Dan Church, who is entering his eighth year with the team in the 2011-12 season.
The York Lions football team has been in continuous operation since 1969 and are one of three teams currently playing in CIS football to have never won a conference championship. The other two teams, the Montreal Carabins and Sherbrooke Vert et Or, did not begin their current programs until 2002 and 2003 respectively. Their current head coach is Warren Craney, who became the team's head coach before the 2010 season.
The program has been one of futility, finishing out of the playoffs for the past eight seasons. While cross-town rival Toronto Varsity Blues used to be the OUA basement-dweller, their progression has sent York to the bottom of the standings, having won just one game in the past four seasons. After Queen's and Ottawa joined the OUA in 2001, the playoffs were expanded to include eight teams, meaning that the Lions would make the playoffs for four consecutive seasons. This format was discontinued after the 2003 season, so the Lions did not qualify for post-season play in 2005. In 2012, the Lions finished with a 2-6 record, the most wins for the program since 2005 and in 7th place, their highest finish in eight years. In 2013, the team finished 8th overall in the OUA, matching their previous season's record of 2-6. Following the 2013 season, Head Coach Warren Craney signed a contract extension with York University to remain at the helm of the program.