Drake Bulldogs

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Drake Bulldogs
University Drake University
Conference Missouri Valley Conference
Pioneer Football League
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
NCAA Division I
Athletic director Sandy Hatfield Clubb
Location Des Moines, Iowa
Varsity teams 18
Football stadium Drake Stadium (football, track)
Basketball arena Knapp Center
Mascot Spike (costumed)
Griff (live)[1]
Nickname Bulldogs
Colors Blue and White[2]
Website www.godrakebulldogs.com

The Drake Bulldogs are the intercollegiate athletics teams of Drake University located in Des Moines, Iowa, United States. The Bulldogs' athletic program is a member of the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) [3] and competes at the NCAA Division I level.[4] Drake also sponsors teams in the Pioneer Football League and Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Drake's live bulldog mascot is Griff, a retired show dog; the costumed mascot is Spike; and the school colors are blue and white.


Drake University athletics began in 1893. and since 1910, the school has been home to and sponsor of what has become one of the world's premier collegiate athletic events, the annual Drake Relays track and field meet held in April.

A member of the Missouri Valley Conference, Drake University sponsors teams in eight men's and ten women's NCAA sanctioned sports:[5]

Men's Intercollegiate Sports Team Article Head Coach Women's Intercollegiate Sports Team Article Head Coach
College basketball Bulldogs men's basketball Niko Medved College basketball Bulldogs women's basketball Jennie Baranczyk
Cross Country Dan Hostager Cross Country Dan Hostager
Football [v 1] Bulldogs football Rick Fox Golf Rachael Pruett
Golf Matt Lewis Rowing [v 2] Charlie DiSilvestro
Soccer Bulldogs men's soccer Gareth Smith Soccer Lindsey Horner
Tennis Davidson Kozlowski Softball Rich Calvert
Track & Field (Indoor & Outdoor) LaRon Bennett / Dan Hostager Tennis Mai-Ly Tran
Track & Field (Indoor & Outdoor) Natasha Kaiser-Brown
Volleyball Darrin McBroom
  1. ^ The football team competes as a member of the Pioneer Football League, a non-scholarship Division I (FCS) league.
  2. ^ The women's rowing team competes as an associate member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Drake Bulldogs history[edit]

Drake University began its athletics program in 1893 with football, baseball, and men's track.[6] The men's basketball program began in 1906. In 1907, Drake joined the Missouri Valley Conference, having previously played as an independent. The teams were known as "The Drakes" until 1908, when John L. Griffith, the newly appointed football coach, brought English Bulldogs to the sidelines of games, prompting Des Moines Register sports editor Art Gordon to dub the teams "the Bulldogs". Drake's current live mascot, Griff, is named for Griffith as a result.[1]

Griffith was later instrumental in another major component of Drake athletics when he organized the first Drake Relays in 1910. The Relays moved to Drake Stadium when it opened in 1925.

Drake played the first-ever night game at Soldier Field in 1930, falling to Oregon Oregon 14-7.

Drake won the national championships for cross country in 1944, 1945, and 1946, with Fred Feiler winning the individual titles in 1944 and 1945. Feiler became the second Bulldog to win an individual national championship, joining 1935 high jump champion Linn Philson; Drake would later see Jim Ford (1952, 200 meters) and Rick Wanamaker (decathlon, 1970) win individual track titles.

On October 20, 1951, Drake's black football star Johnny Bright was assaulted in a game at Oklahoma A&M (now known as Oklahoma State). As a result of the incident and the failure of the Missouri Valley Conference to take action against Oklahoma A&M or the offending player, Drake and fellow conference member Bradley both withdrew from the conference. Bright would finish 5th in the balloting for the Heisman Trophy.[7] Drake rejoined the Missouri Valley Conference for non-football sports in 1956.[8]

In 1969, the men’s basketball team advanced to the national semifinals, losing narrowly to UCLA. Legend Dolph Pulliam becomes the first athlete to be selected in both the NBA and NFL drafts. Pulliam was drafted by the Boston Celtics and Dallas Cowboys in 1969.

Football returned to the MVC in 1971, 20 years after the Bright incident. Baseball was dropped in 1974.[9] Following changes in NCAA regulation in 1985, football was briefly dropped before returning as a non-scholarship Division III sport; it later returned to Division I but remains non-scholarship.

Alumnus Zach Johnson has won two major championships, the 2007 Masters and the 2015 Open Championship.


  • 1948 (summer) – Don Pettie Canada 100 meters, 200 meters
  • 1952 (summer) – Arnold Betton United States High Jump
  • 1952 (summer) – Jim Lavery Canada 400 meters, 4x400 relay
  • 1956 (summer) – Bob Soth United States 5,000 meters
  • 1996 (summer) – Dani Tyler United States softball
  • 2002 (winter) – Ann Swisshelm United States curling
  • 2014 (winter) – Ann Swisshelm United States curling

Drake Relays[edit]

Main article: Drake Relays

Drake University also hosts the Drake Relays during April. This track and field event has been held since 1910, and, after the NCAA Championships, is the second-largest collegiate track and field event in the United States. Participants come from all over the world to compete in this three-day event, which also helps to draw large crowds of spectators to Des Moines. Many Olympic athletes can be found participating in these events, which commonly break national and world records.


Facility Year Opened Sport Capacity
Drake Stadium 1925 Football, Track & Field 14,557
Knapp Center 1992 Basketball, Volleyball 7,152
Rodger Knapp Tennis Center 1992 Tennis 1,000
Buel Field 2005 Softball 1,000
James W. Cownie Soccer Complex 1998 Soccer 2,000
Ewing Park N/A Cross Country N/A

Notable Bulldogs[edit]

Danielle Tyler - softball player


  1. ^ a b "Drake welcomes live mascot Griff | Newsroom | Drake University". News.drake.edu. 2015-10-08. Retrieved 2017-03-18. 
  2. ^ Drake University Brand Book Fall 2016 (PDF). Retrieved 2017-03-05. 
  3. ^ "This is the Missouri Valley Conference". Missouri Valley Conference. Retrieved October 16, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Bradley University". NCAA. Retrieved September 24, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Drake Bulldogs". Drake University. 
  6. ^ "Drake Yearly Results" (PDF). Cfbdatawarehouse.com. Retrieved 2017-03-18. 
  7. ^ "Johnny Bright | Drake Heritage Collection". Lib.drake.edu. Retrieved 2017-03-18. 
  8. ^ "Drake Returns To Conference". Kansas City, Missouri: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. August 30, 1955. p. 21. 
  9. ^ "Drake Times-Delphic, vol. 93 no. 22 – November 22, 1974 :: Drake University Student Newspapers". Cdm15183.contentdm.oclc.org. 1974-11-22. Retrieved 2013-01-25. 

External links[edit]