Cal Poly Mustangs
|Cal Poly Mustangs|
|University||California Polytechnic State University|
|Conference||Big West Conference
Big Sky Conference (football only)
Pac-12 Conference (men's swimming and diving, wrestling)
Mountain Pacific Sports Federation
|Athletic director||Don Oberhelman|
|Location||San Luis Obispo, California|
|Football stadium||Alex G. Spanos Stadium (football, soccer), 11,075 capacity|
|Basketball arena||Mott Athletics Center|
|Baseball stadium||Robin Baggett Stadium|
|Colors||Forest Green, Vegas Gold, and Copper
The Cal Poly Mustangs are the athletic teams representing Cal Poly also known as California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California. The university fields twenty teams including men and women's basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, and track and field; women's-only indoor track, softball, and volleyball; and men's-only baseball, football, and wrestling. The Mustangs compete in NCAA Division I; they are primarily members of the Big West Conference and Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, but the football team plays in the Big Sky Conference and the men's swimming and diving and wrestling teams are associate members in the Pac-12 Conference.
California Polytechnic State University sponsors teams in eleven men's and eleven women's NCAA sanctioned sports:
Men's Intercollegiate Sports
Women's Intercollegiate Sports
- # = Swimming & diving teams compete in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
- † = Wrestling is an affiliate member of the Pac-12 Conference.
- ‡ = Indoor track & field teams compete as independents.
- * = Beach volleyball is a fully sanctioned NCAA sport which had its first national championship in the spring of 2016. Cal Poly currently competes as an independent.
The men's cross country team has finished in the top 25 in the nation four of the past five years. In 2012, Coach Mark Conover and his men's squad collected its second straight Big West Conference title and 12th in the past 15 seasons. Their last national placing was in 2008, when they finished 23rd at the National Cross Country Championships. Also in 2012, the women’s program nabbed its first Big West Conference crown since 2001.
Mustang Football plays in the Big Sky Conference, competing in the Football Championship Subdivision. Prior to joining the Big Sky Conference in 2012, the team competed in the Great West Conference and is the first Great West Football Conference participant in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. Each year Cal Poly plays rival UC Davis in the annual Battle for the Golden Horseshoe.
The Cal Poly Mustangs men's soccer team has had success in recent years. In 2008, Coach Paul Holocher led his team to a 3rd place in the Big West and a spot in the NCAA Division I tournament. They went on to beat UCLA and ended up losing to UC Irvine in the 2nd round. Cal Poly soccer has a strong fan base, averaging over 3,000 fans per match in 2010. In 2011, collegesoccernews.com chose Cal Poly vs. UC Santa Barbara as the No. 1 rivalry in college soccer. Since 2007, the rivalry matches have regularly drawn upwards of 8,000 fans to watch the matches.
The women's volleyball team has been one of the school's best sports programs in recent years and in the 1980s. In 2007 the team captured its second straight Big West title by posting a 15–1 conference record and a 23–8 record overall, and made it to the third round of the playoffs before losing to Stanford in the Sweet 16. The team also went 23–6 in 2006.
The wrestling program at Cal Poly competes as a member of the Pac-12 Conference (The Big West does not sponsor wrestling) which is traditionally one of the strongest conferences in college wrestling. Cal Poly has had two wrestlers (Tom Kline & Mark DiGirolamo) win the NCAA Wrestling Championship and 46 wrestlers earn All-American honors. In addition to the program's success at the NCAA Championships the program has crowned one champion at the National Collegiate Open Wrestling Championship. On January 30, 2014 Cal Poly hosted Oregon State University in a very rare Outdoor wrestling match. The match took place in Cal Poly's University Union Plaza following the weekly UU hour. The only other known outdoor matches have been hosted by The Citadel Bulldogs, including one during the 2012-2013 season. The Arizona State Sun Devils also wrestled Arizona outdoors in the 1970s.
The head coach of the Mustang Wrestling team is Brendan Buckley, currently in his 3rd season in the position. The team competes in the Mott Gym on campus opened back in 1960, seating over 3,000 people for home dual meets and tournaments.
Two former mustang wrestlers after graduation went on to compete in mixed martial arts, more specifically the Ultimate Fighting Championships. The first is Chad Mendes who was a national runner up at 141 lb in 2008 currently competing for the UFC since 2011, also he challenged for UFC featherweight title in 2012. The other wrestler is Chuck Liddell who graduated in 1995 and is now a retired UFC Hall of Fame inductee being a former UFC Light heavyweight Champion and for his contribution to the sport of MMA in the UFC organization.
Prior to joining the Division I ranks, Cal Poly was dominant in Division II, winning seven consecutive Division II championships from 1968 to 1974.
Athletic department controversies
In November 2013, a student assistant coach who previously played for the Cal Poly Mustangs football team was shot in a drug deal. The following year in August 2014, further problems beset the football team when 5 current Cal Poly student-athletes were arrested and charged with a total of 23 felonies which made national headlines. The players were subsequently suspended indefinitely from the team.
California Polytechnic State University president, Jeffrey Armstrong, stated that the August 2014 event "bears striking commonalities" with the November 2013 event, which was also noted by San Luis Obispo Police Department Chief Steve Gesell as having "disturbing" similarities. Armstrong, with athletic director, Don Oberhelman, launched an investigation into the football team's potential further involvement with illegal drugs and criminal activity and rolled out a new drug policy for the athletics department. It was reported by The Tribune that cost was a factor cited by Cal Poly when testing just 41 of its 540 student-athletes for banned substances within the last year. Oberhelman later stated that some of the players involved "... should not have been at Cal Poly." He also stated that he had heard of illegal drug usage among members of the football team. According to current and former players who spoke with The Tribune confidentially, the consensus was that illegal drug usage at the football program was widespread, with estimates ranging between 40% to 60% of the student-athletes. Athletic director Oberhelman kept faith in head coach Tim Walsh and his coaching staff despite Randy Hanson, a former coach brought on by Walsh, had multiple felony charges brought upon him just a few years earlier. One of the student-athletes in the August 2014 event later accused head coach Tim Walsh in court of coercion to talk to the police without a lawyer present.
In April 2015, a football student-athlete was arrested for driving under the influence, a felony, after crashing his car. A number of the passengers in the car were also football student-athletes. Previously in March 2011, a different Cal Poly football player was arrested for a DUI and ultimately chose to transfer out of the program.
In 2014, Cal Poly went to court to cover up or remove mentions of Moriarty Enterprises from the scoreboard at Alex G. Spanos Stadium. Al Moriarty, a former Cal Poly football player who was inducted to the Cal Poly Hall of Fame in 2002, purchased naming rights to the scoreboard in 2009 for a total of $625,000. He was convicted of running a ponzi scheme and Cal Poly argued that they were "...suffering harm by having the name 'Moriarty Enterprises' remain on the scoreboard." When bankruptcy trustees asked Cal Poly for the money to be returned to benefit Moriarty's creditors, Cal Poly declined. After nearly a year in court, an agreement was reached wherein Cal Poly repaid $480,000 of the original donation to remove mentions of Moriarty, leaving the school with a $145,000 profit from the original sponsorship.
The Blue-Green rivalry
The main rival of the Cal Poly Mustangs are the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos who compete together in the Blue–Green Rivalry. The Blue-Green Rivalry, which started in November 1921 with a football game, was formalized in 2009. This new format calculates earned points between Cal Poly and UCSB to determine a winner based on their teams' competitive results against each other. Additionally, collegesoccernews.com ranked UC Santa Barbara vs. Cal Poly as the Greatest Rivalry in College Soccer.
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