Nevada Wolf Pack

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Nevada Wolf Pack
University University of Nevada, Reno
Conference Mountain West Conference
NCAA Division I
Athletic director Doug Knuth
Location Reno, Nevada
Varsity teams 16
Football stadium Mackay Stadium
Basketball arena Lawlor Events Center
Baseball stadium William Peccole Park
Soccer stadium Mackay Stadium
Mascot Alphie, Wolfie Jr., and Luna
Nickname Wolf Pack
Fight song Hail to our Sturdy Team
     Navy blue       Silver

The Nevada Wolf Pack are the collegiate athletic teams that represent the University of Nevada, Reno, consisting of 16 varsity teams. Though often known as UNR within the state, the university is simply called Nevada for athletics purposes; its sports teams are nicknamed the Wolf Pack (always two words).[1] They participate in the NCAA's Division I (FBS for football) and in the Mountain West Conference.[2]

Nevada's athletic teams were originally known as the Sagebrushers, named after Nevada's state flower. In the 1921–1922 school year, a local writer described the school's athletic teams as a "pack of wolves." That name stuck and by 1923, the student body designated "Wolves" as the school's mascot.[1]

Conference affiliation history[edit]

From 1925–39 and again from 1954–68, Nevada was a member of what closed down as the Northern California Athletic Conference. In 1969, Nevada joined the West Coast Conference, but remained independent in football.

Eventually, this arrangement proved unsatisfactory for Nevada, who by 1975 was the only public school left in the WCC. At the same time, Gonzaga, a charter but non-football member of the Big Sky Conference, was facing pressure from the conference to either leave or add football (which they had dropped in 1941), as they were the only non-football member of the conference (and only private school as well).

A deal was then worked out in which Gonzaga and Nevada would swap conference affiliations in 1979. Gonzaga joined the WCC where it remains to this day, while Nevada moved to the Big Sky. Both new affiliations were the best institutional fits at the time.

By the early 1990s, Nevada had become one of the better football teams in what is now the Football Championship Subdivision of NCAA Division I, advancing to the title game in 1990. Nevada decided to upgrade to FBS in 1992, which required them to leave the Big Sky, which did not accept non-football members at the time (this will change in 2014). Nevada found a home in the Big West Conference, where in-state rival UNLV had been playing since 1982 (they would leave in 1996).

By the late 1990s, the football side of Big West had been unstable due to membership changes, so in 2000, Nevada joined the Western Athletic Conference, where they would remain for 12 years. The WAC itself became unstable in the early 2010s, with the first move being by Boise State, who moved to the Mountain West Conference starting in 2011. This influenced Nevada to move there as well, starting in 2012. As a result of that move, Nevada once again was conference rivals with UNLV (who formed the MWC with 7 other former WAC schools in 1999).


Nevada fields 16 varsity sports teams; 6 men's and 10 women's:

Men's sports Women's sports
Baseball Basketball
Basketball Cross country
Rifle Soccer
Football, (Division 1-A) Golf
Golf Tennis
Tennis Soccer
Swimming & diving
Outdoor track and field


The baseball team plays at William Peccole Park and has made four appearances in the NCAA regionals, in 1994, 1997, 1999 and 2000. They have compiled a record of 5–8 in NCAA games, losing to Stanford in the finals of the Palo Alto Regional in 1999. Nevada finished the 1994 season ranked 19th in the country.[3]

Men's basketball[edit]

The Nevada Men's Basketball program first began in 1913. The program has won 19 conference championships and made six appearances in the NCAA tournament.[4] The team's current coach is former NBA coach Eric Musslman

The men's basketball program has experience some success in recent years. In 2004, the Wolf Pack men's basketball team qualified for the NCAA tournament and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in school history, where they fell to Georgia Tech. The team earned a repeat trip in 2005 and beat Texas in the first round before falling to eventual national runner-up Illinois. The team returned for 2006 as a #5 seed but was upset in the first round by former Big Sky Conference rival Montana.[5] They began the 2006–07 season ranked #24.[6] The Pack's major star during this recent period of success was Nick Fazekas. In 2007, Nevada was ranked #9 in men's basketball, which is the highest ranking that Nevada has ever held.[5] Guards Ramon Sessions and Marcellus Kemp both flirted with leaving as juniors for the NBA draft, however Kemp decided to remain at Nevada while Sessions was drafted 56th overall in the 2007 NBA Draft.[7][8]

Women's cross country[edit]

See footnote[9]


Nevada's current head coach is Brian Polian, who succeeded the retiring Chris Ault after the 2012 season. Ault, who in 2012 was one of two active coaches who were enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame as coaches (the other was John Gagliardi, who also retired after the 2012 season), spent a total of 28 seasons as head coach in three separate stints. Ault is credited with the creation of the Pistol Offense which he implemented at Nevada in 2005. Ault was also one of four Football Bowl Subdivision coaches active in 2012 with 200 career wins.[10]

The football team plays home games at Mackay Stadium. The modern Mackay Stadium replaced its predecessor and was completed in 1966 with a seating capacity of 7,500. The facility has been expanded several times in its history and now seats 30,000.[11]

The 2010 season saw Nevada at its best finishing the season ranked No. 11 in the AP and No. 13 in the BCS. The Pack celebrated their 500th win in school history with a 52–6 win over New Mexico State on November 20, 2010, at Mackay Stadium.[12] On November 26, 2010, the Nevada Wolf Pack upset Boise State in a historic win at Mackay Stadium. In one round of overtime and 2 missed field goals by the Broncos, one at the end of regulation and one in overtime, Nevada Wolf Pack freshman kicker Anthony Martinez kicked a field goal to put Nevada on top for a final of 34–31. The Wolf Pack's win ended Boise State's 24-game winning streak, then the longest winning streak in the nation. It was also the Wolf Pack's first victory against Boise State after losing 10 straight to the Broncos.[13]

Men's golf[edit]

See footnote[14]

Women's golf[edit]

See footnote[15]


Other notable successes have come in rifle shooting. The Nevada rifle team placed second in the 2004 NCAA Rifle team championship, losing to national champion Alaska Fairbanks. As of 2009, the rifle team has been to eight consecutive NCAA championships.

In June, 2013, the Wolf Pack became a charter member of the Patriot Rifle Conference.

Women's soccer[edit]

The Nevada women's soccer team won its first WAC tournament title in 2006 and qualified for its first NCAA tournament since the program's inception in 2000. Nevada faced Fresno State in the championship match and, after 110 minutes of scoreless play, the two teams went into a shootout where Nevada prevailed 4–2 in penalty kicks.[16]

The single home-game attendance record for the women's soccer team is 1,050 fans, as the Wolf Pack beat the Sacramento State Hornets 3–2 at the Moana Sports Complex in Reno on September 15, 2013.[17][18] The home-game attendance record at Mackay Stadium for the team is 1,007 fans on September 23, 2012, when the Wolf Pack lost 0–3 to the California Golden Bears.[19][20]


Since the program was reinstated in 2003, the softball team has qualified for the NCAA tournament three times (2006, 2008, 2009) and has compiled a record of 3–6 in tournament play. In 2006, Nevada won its first WAC tournament title as Jordan McPherson pitched all 41 innings for Nevada in the WAC tournament, without giving up a single earned run, while striking out 34 on the way to being named tournament MVP.[21]

The 2008 team finished the season ranked in both national Top 25 polls.The Wolf Pack was ranked No. 21 in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll and was No. 20 in the Softball Collegiate Top 25. Nevada went 44–18 and won the Western Athletic Conference regular season title.[22] That season, Noelle Micka became the first Nevada softball player to earn second team All American and Vanessa Briones was named WAC Player of the Year. She was the first Wolf Pack player to earn the honor.[23] The Wolf Pack received an at-large bid to the NCAA Regionals and advanced to the championship game of the Los Angeles Regional, where they lost 6–4 to UCLA.[24]

Women's swimming and diving[edit]

The swimming and diving team won the AIAW-Division II national title in 1979 and has won 8 conference championships since 1996. They won the Big West championship five years in a row from 1996 to 2000, and won the WAC title in 2007, 2008, and 2009.[25]

Mike Anderson coached the women's team from 1989 – 2000.[26]

Men's tennis[edit]

See footnote[27]

Women's tennis[edit]

See footnote[28]

Women's track and field[edit]

See footnote[29]

Women's volleyball[edit]

The volleyball team has qualified for the NCAA tournament five times in its history, all coming from at-large selections. (1998, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005).


The Wolf Pack's mascots are anthropomorphized wolves named Alphie and Wolfie Jr. Alphie took over the duties of cheering from his uncle, Wolfie, in 1999. In 2007, Alphie was joined by his younger brother, Wolfie Jr.[1] As of late August/early September 2013, they announced that there would be a girl mascot named Luna. To this day, they're one of the few universities that have more than one.


  1. ^ a b c Nevada Traditions & History[dead link] Nevada Athletics
  2. ^ O'Toole, Thomas. Nevada, Fresno State accept offers to leave WAC and join Mountain West USA Today, 18 August 2010. Web. 07 March 2011.
  3. ^ 1994 NCAA DIV I Final Baseball Poll Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Archived September 27, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ NEVADA'S CHAMPIONSHIP TEAMS[dead link] Nevada Athletics
  5. ^ a b Nevada in the NCAA Tournament[dead link] Nevada Athletics
  6. ^ 2007 NCAA Men's Basketball Rankings – Preseason (Nov. 6)
  7. ^ Marcelus Kemp Draft 2008 National Basketball Association
  8. ^ 2007 NBA Draft National Basketball Association
  9. ^ "Cross Country". CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2012-06-06. 
  10. ^ Sonner, Scott. Ault wins No. 200, Nevada beats Louisiana Tech Associated Press, 10 October 2009. Web. 07 August 2011.
  11. ^ "Facilities: Mackay Stadium". Retrieved November 30, 2013. 
  12. ^ Defense Leads Pack To 52–6 Win Over NMSU[dead link] Nevada Athletics
  13. ^ Two missed field goals doom Boise State as Nevada prevails in Associated Press
  14. ^ "Men's Golf". CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2012-06-06. 
  15. ^ "Women's Golf". CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2012-06-06. 
  16. ^ Nevada Soccer Beats Fresno State in Penalty Kicks to Win the WAC Tournament, and Advances to the NCAA Tournament[dead link] Nevada Athletics
  17. ^ "Nevada defeats Sacramento State, 3–2". Retrieved November 30, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Sacramento State vs Nevada (Sep 15, 2013)". Retrieved November 30, 2013. 
  19. ^ "No. 15 California Defeats Nevada". Retrieved November 30, 2013. 
  20. ^ "CAL vs Nevada (Sep 23, 2012)". Retrieved November 30, 2013. 
  21. ^ Pack Wins WAC Title[dead link] Nevada Athletics
  22. ^ Micka Named All-American[dead link] Nevada Athletics
  23. ^ Wac Player of the Nevada Athletics
  24. ^ Softball Falls To UCLA[dead link] Nevada Athletics
  25. ^ Pack Swimming & Diving Team Earns WAC Three-Peat[dead link] Nevada Athletics
  26. ^ Barber, Alicia, et al. We were all Athletes: Women's Athletics and Title IX at the University of Nevada. Reno, Nev: University of Nevada Oral History Program, 2011
  27. ^ "Men's Tennis". CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2012-06-06. 
  28. ^ "Women's Tennis". CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2012-06-06. 
  29. ^ "Track & Field". CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2012-06-06. 

External links[edit]