Illinois Fighting Illini
|Illinois Fighting Illini|
|University||University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign|
|NCAA||Division I / FBS|
|Athletic director||Josh Whitman|
|Varsity teams||21 (10 men's, 11 women's)|
|Football stadium||Memorial Stadium|
|Basketball arena||State Farm Center|
|Baseball stadium||Illinois Field|
|Other arenas||ARC Pool
Atkins Tennis Center
Illinois Soccer Stadium
Illinois Track Stadium
Stone Creek Golf Course
|Fight song||Illinois Loyalty, Oskee Wow-Wow|
|Colors||Orange and Blue
The University operates a number of athletic facilities, including Memorial Stadium for football, the State Farm Center for both men's and women's basketball, Illinois Field for baseball, the ARC Pool for women's swimming and diving, the Atkins Tennis Center for men's and women's tennis, Eichelberger Field for softball, Huff Hall for men's and women's gymnastics, women's volleyball and men's wrestling, Illinois Soccer Stadium for women's soccer, Illinois Track Stadium for men's and women's outdoor track and field, the Stone Creek Golf Course for men's and women's golf, the University of Illinois Arboretum for cross country and the University of Illinois Armory for men's and women's indoor track and field.
The Fighting Illini lay claim to over twenty-five National Championships dating back to 1900.
- 1 Conference and affiliations
- 2 Championships
- 3 Varsity sports
- 3.1 Timeline
- 3.2 Men's varsity sports
- 3.3 Women's varsity sports
- 4 Club sports
- 5 Athletic facilities
- 6 Illinois traditions
- 7 Athletic directors
- 8 Alumni
- 9 Controversy
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Conference and affiliations
The University's Division of Intercollegiate Athletics administers the official athletics teams of the University. All of the University's athletics teams participate in the NCAA's Division I, and form the Big Ten Conference with 13 other primarily Midwestern universities. The football team participates in a subdivision within the Division I known as the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).
NCAA team championships
The University of Illinois has won 18 NCAA national championships:
- Men's (18)
- See also:
Other team championships
Below are 7 national team titles that were not bestowed by the NCAA:
- Outdoor track and field (1): 1970
- See also:
^ The NCAA does not award a national championship in Division I FBS football. Instead, polls were used to determine the national champion until 2013. In this case, the AP Poll and the Coaches Poll, were the two biggest selectors. Since 2014, the College Football Playoff has determined the national champion. These championships are not recognized by the NCAA because the championship was won without participating in an NCAA recognized event or tournament.
Men's varsity sports
Illinois fencing won National Championships in 1956 and 1958. Fencing was dropped as a varsity sport in 1993. Men's swimming and diving was dropped as a varsity sport in 1993, but were Big Ten Champions in 1911, 1912 and 1913.
Illini baseball has 10 NCAA Tournament Appearances, 33 Big Ten Champions titles and 4 Big Ten Tournament Championships from 1989, 1990, 2000 and 2011.
Illini Basketball titles include Helms National Champions in 1915, 5 NCAA Final Four appearances in 1949, 1951, 1952, 1989, 2005, 17 Big Ten Champions and Big Ten Tournament Championships in 2003, 2005. Through the end of the 2013–14 season, Illinois ranks 11th all-time in winning percentage and 14th all-time in wins among all NCAA Division I men's college basketball programs.
The men's cross country team carries the title of Big Ten Champions in 1921, 1947 and 1984.
The University of Illinois has five national championships in football. The Fighting Illini now officially recognize the 1951 National Championship by the Boand selecting body, but as recently as 2006 this was not mentioned officially by the school. The team also has 15 Big Ten Championship Football victories with 8 Bowl Game Victories at the 1947 Rose Bowl, 1952 Rose Bowl, 1964 Rose Bowl, 1990 Florida Citrus Bowl, 1994 Liberty Bowl, 1999 MicronPC.com Bowl, 2010 Texas Bowl, and 2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
The men's golf team play their home matches on the Stone Creek Golf Course five miles from the university's campus, and are currently led by head coach Mike Small. The Fighting Illini men's golf program has won 15 Big Ten championships and in 2013 finished as national runner-up at the NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championships, which was the highest finish in the program's history. 2014 was the third time in the past four years the program had qualified for the match play portion of the NCAA Men's Golf Championships in which the final eight teams compete in a bracket format.
The men's gymnastics team have been invited to 44 NCAA tournaments and have won 10 team NCAA championships, which is second most all-time only to Penn State Nittany Lions 12 team titles. Additionally, the Fighting Illini have won an all-time record 53 individual NCAA titles. The Illini hold their competitions at George Huff Hall on the Champaign side of campus, and the team trains and holds practices at the Kenney Gym on the Urbana side of campus.
The Illinois men's tennis program was founded in 1908, but has enjoyed most of its success in recent years. The Illini have been one of the most successful men's tennis programs in the nation over the past twenty seasons, winning nine consecutive Big Ten Championships from 1997–2005; six of seven Big Ten Tournament Championships between 1999 and 2005; appearing in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen fourteen times, including eight years in a row (2002–09); advancing to three NCAA Final Fours between 2003 and 2007; and winning the 2003 NCAA National Championship. They have also won two ITA National Team Indoor Championships (2003, 2004) and lost in the championship match three other times (1998,1999,2002). Illinois men's tennis owns the record for longest consecutive win streak in NCAA history at 64 matches, spanning from their first match of the 2002–2003 season and ending with a 4–2 defeat by UCLA in the semifinals of the 2004 NCAA Men's Tennis Tournament.
Track and field
The men's Indoor Track and Field team has a total of 20 Big Ten Champion titles. For outdoor track and field the team has NCAA National Champions in 1921 1927 1944, 1946, and 1947. In addition, the team carries a total of 29 Big Ten Championships.
- Indoor Track and Field Big Ten Champions: 1912, 1913, 1914, 1916, 1920, 1921, 1924, 1928, 1946, 1947, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1958, 1977, 1981, 1987, 1988, 1989
- Outdoor Track and Field Big Ten Champions: 1907, 1909, 1913, 1914, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1924, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1934, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1975, 1977, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1994, 2015
The current head coach of the University of Illinois Fighting Illini Wrestling team is Jim Heffernan under his 5th season, and 22nd with the University of Illinois. Huff Hall is the current home arena seating approximately 4,500.
- Big Ten Champions: 1913, 1917, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1930, 1932, 1935, 1937, 1946, 1947, 1952, 2005
- The University of Illinois has had National Champions with Isaiah Martinez in 2015 and 2016
Women's varsity sports
The Fighting Illini women's basketball team began play in 1974. The team won the 1997 Big Ten Championship. They have made eight NCAA Tournament appearances and had two sweet sixteen appearances in 1997 and 1998.
The Fighting Illini women's cross country team began play in 1977. Illinois won an individual NCAA championship in 2009.
The Fighting Illini women's golf team began play in 1975. The team has made four NCAA Tournament appearances in 2002, 2003, 2011 and 2012.
The Fighting Illini women's gymnastics team began play in 1974. The team won three Big Ten Championships in 1990, 1991 and 1992.
The Fighting Illini women's soccer team began play in 1997. The team won two Big Ten Championships in 2003 and 2011. They have made twelve NCAA Tournaments appearances in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. The team has four sweet sixteen appearances in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2013 and one elite eight appearance in 2004.
The Fighting Illini softball team began play in 2000. The team has made six NCAA Tournament appearances in 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2016 and 2017.
Swimming and diving
The Fighting Illini women's swimming and diving team began play in 1974. The team had individual NCAA champions in 1983, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007.
The Fighting Illini women's tennis team began play in 1975. The women's tennis team has made nine NCAA Tournament appearances in 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2008 and 2010.
Track and field
The Fighting Illini women's track and field team began play in 1976.The indoor track and field team won five Big Ten Championships in 1989, 1992, 1993, 1995 and 1996. The outdoor track and field team won the 1970 Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women national championship and six Big Ten Championships in 1988, 1989, 1992, 1995, 2005 and 2007.
Women's volleyball started in 1974., Since moving into Huff Hall from the Kenney Gym in 1990, the Illinois Volleyball team has remained in the top 10 in the nation for average home attendance. In 2013, the program broke its previous home attendance record, averaging 3,117 per match. Kenney Gym served as the initial home court from 1974 through the 1989 season. Since the founding of the volleyball program in 1974, the Fighting Illini have had 30+ winning seasons.
Club sports include men's ice hockey, men's lacrosse, women's ice hockey, rowing, men's rugby, women's rugby, tennis, men's volleyball, men's soccer, women's soccer, men's ultimate frisbee, women's ultimate frisbee, men's and women's cross country, and men's and women's track and field.
Founded in 1963, the University of Illinois Men's Rugby Football Club plays in Division 1-A in the Big Ten Universities conference. The Illini have experienced success in college rugby, including winning several Big 10 championships in the 1980s and reaching the national semifinals in 1980, 1983 and 1985. The Illini play their home matches in Urbana at the Complex Fields.
The men's wheelchair basketball team was founded in 1948 by Dr. Timothy Nugent in response to a large number of disabled veterans using the G.I. Bill to attend the University of Illinois. Dr. Nugent later started a women's team in 1970. A total of 29 national championships are claimed between the men and women’s teams.
Club and intramural facilities
Fighting Illini nickname
The University of Illinois official team nickname is the Fighting Illini. The earliest reference of Illini appears to be mentioned in January 1874, when the campus weekly newspaper changed its name from The Student to The Illini. An editorial in the first edition of the renamed newspaper indicated that Illini was a new term. During the late 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, it was used to refer to the students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the University, as well as to the campus as a whole.
The term Illini referring to the universities athletic teams seems to come from secondhand accounts of the athletic teams. The earliest reference in the Illio yearbook appears to be one mention in the summary of the 1907 football season. The term was more widely used in the 1910's especially during the 1914, 1915, and 1916 football seasons. The Daily Illini and football programs prior to these dates do not extensively cite the term and also used the terms "Indians," "our men," "Orange and Blue," and the "homecomers".
The term Fighting Illini first appeared in a January 29, 1911 newspaper article describing the basketball team's effort during a game versus Purdue. By March 3, 1911, the athletic teams appeared to have earned the Fighting Illini nickname as a formal appellation evidenced in a newspaper report. In 2005, evidence suggested Fighting Illini was first used in 1921 as part of a fundraising campaign for construction of Memorial Stadium, but articles discovered in 2013 show it was first used in 1911. The Fighting Illini nickname was adopted by general consensus as an unofficial school nickname sometime between 1921–1930. It was then used in newspaper articles, football programs and other publications eventually becoming the official nickname.
The Marching Illini is the marching band of the university. The Marching Illini is an organization which annually includes approximately 350 students. Part of the College of Fine and Applied Arts and the School of Music, the Marching Illini represent virtually every college, discipline, and major on the University's diverse Urbana-Champaign campus. The band primarily performs before, during, and after University of Illinois home football games. The band also performs an indoor concert at the Assembly Hall featuring special lighting effects, performances by individual sections, and slightly pithy comic routines. The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music houses a collection of University Band recordings and performances and recording sessions from 1940–1987. The band has several traditions such as the Pregame Show, Three-In-One, Illinois Loyalty and Oskee Wow-Wow.
Illinois Loyalty is the main school song of the university. It was first performed on March 3, 1906 and is one of the oldest songs of its kind in the United States. The song was written by Thacher Howland Guild (1879-1914), instructor in rhetoric and a member of the band′s solo cornet section. Due to the song's length, it is normally played only at the beginning, halftime, and end of football games.
Oskee Wow-Wow is the official fight song of the University of Illinois. Most commonly, it is played "from the hold" at the start of the chorus, when the "O" in "Oskee Wow-Wow" is held out. This version is played after first downs and touchdowns in football, and leading into time outs in basketball. Coincidentally, the buzzers at nearly every arena are in the same chord as the hold.
For many years, the band started playing the song "from the top" toward the end of the warmup period in basketball. When conducted correctly, the "hold" is played just as the buzzer sounds.
Oskee Wow-Wow yell
The University has a number of notable alumni and administrators in the world of athletics. In football, notable Alumni include Dick Butkus, Red Grange, Jeff George, Simeon Rice, Ray Nitschke and George Halas. Famous basketball alumni include Luther Head, Derek Harper, Nick Anderson, Chuck Carney, Brian Cook, Kendall Gill, Steve Bardo, Jerry Colangelo, and Johnny Orr. Notable athletes in baseball include Lou Boudreau, Hoot Evers and Ken Holtzman. The University has also a number of Olympic athletes that include George Kerr, Don Laz, Daniel Kinsey, Harold Osborn, Bob Richards, and Justin Spring,
From 1926 until 2007, a mascot of the university's athletic teams was a Native American figure, Chief Illiniwek, which sparked significant controversy beginning in the 1980s. Critics of the Chief, who was represented at games by someone dressed in costume, claimed that it was a racist stereotype and a symbol of the oppression to Native Americans which took place in American history. Supporters claimed that it was inoffensive and a source of pride and reverence to the Native American heritage of Illinois.
In 1982, Oglala Sioux elder Frank Fools Crow sold an authentic ceremonial costume and headdress to the university. Since 1992, the Oglala Sioux tribe demanded the costume and headdress be returned to Fools Crow's family. The university was unable to locate the feathers and a grandson of Fools Crow has stated he disagreed with the way the University used his grandfather's gift.
The university remains deeply divided on this issue; while some of the faculty condemned the symbol, the administration remained supportive of it. The university's Board of Trustees announced on February 16, 2007 that the Chief's last public performance would be the final home game of the 2006–2007 Men's Basketball season. The name "Fighting Illini" was retained because the NCAA rescinded its criticism of the term.