UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs

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UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs
UniversityUniversity of California, Santa Cruz
ConferenceCapital Athletic Conference/ American Southwest Conference (women's golf only)
NCAADivision III
Athletic directorSusan W. Harriman
LocationSanta Cruz, California
Varsity teams15
Basketball arenaKaiser Permanente Arena
MascotSammy the Slug
Fight songBanana Slugs Racing Down the Field
ColorsNavy Blue and Gold[1]

The UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs are the athletic teams that represent the University of California, Santa Cruz. The Banana Slugs compete in Division III of the NCAA as an independent member. There are fifteen varsity sports – men's and women's basketball, tennis, soccer, volleyball, swimming and diving, cross country, and women's golf. UCSC teams have been Division III nationally ranked in tennis, soccer, men's volleyball, and swimming. UCSC maintains a number of successful club sides.

UC Santa Cruz joined the NCAA in Fall 1980 after years of playing unoffical club competition. In 2016, due to a mounting debt in funding of the athletic program, the university polled its students on whether or not they would approve an increase in student fees which would be necessary to maintain the athletic program. There was a significant doubt that the students would approve this increase. Contrary to the predictions, a majority of the students approved a significant addition to their annual fees to maintain the existence of the athletic program.[2]


Varsity sports[edit]

Men's sports Women's sports
Basketball Basketball
Cross country Cross country
Soccer Golf
Swimming and diving Soccer
Tennis Swimming and diving
Track and field Tennis
Volleyball Track and field
† – Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor.

UCSC participates in men's and women's basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, and volleyball. In the past, it has also participated in water polo.


Starting in 2013, both men's and women's basketball teams play downtown at the Kaiser Permanente Arena.[4]

Cross Country[edit]

The Women’s Cross Country team has finished as high as 5th at the NCAA West Regional Championships in 2014 with 7th place finishes in 2008, 2015, and 2016. The best finish by the Men’s Cross Country team at Regionals was second in 2017, with 6th place finishes in 1985, 1989, and 2013 and 7th place finishes in 2014 and 2016.


The Banana Slugs were national runners-up in men's soccer in 2004. Team members included future MLS players Adam Smarte and Stephen Wondolowski.


By defeating Emory to win the 2007 NCAA Championship in men's tennis, UCSC won their sixth Division III team championship.[5] UCSC won their seventh championship in 2009 beating Amherst College in the finals to tie Kalamazoo for the most team titles in NCAA Division III.[6]

Track & Field[edit]

UCSC added a woman's track & field varsity program in 2012. In 2016, it added a men's varsity program as well. In 2017, the Slugs track & field team competed in all event groups, for both men and women, for the first time.[7]


In 2012, the Men's Volleyball Team made a Division III NCAA Semifinal appearance in the inaugural NCAA Tournament.[8] In 2013, Men's Volleyball qualified for a second Division III Tournament. After a four-year absence, the Slugs returned to the NCAA Tournament in 2019 and were national runners-up.[9]

The Women's volleyball team has made two appearances in the NCAA tournament: 2013 and 2015. Both teams started playing at Kaiser Permanente Arena in 2018.

Water Polo[edit]

In the 2006 season, the men's water polo team won the Division III championship, as well as an overall NCAA ranking of 19th in the nation. However, both the men and women's water polo teams went to club status in 2008 due to budget constraints.[10]

Club sports[edit]

In addition to its NCAA sports, UCSC maintains a number of successful club sides including its women's rugby NCAA Division team, which won the Division II National Collegiate Championship during its 2005 season and has competed at nationals several times since, most recently in 2010 and 2013.[11] However, many other club teams exist such as soccer, lacrosse, baseball, rugby, softball, and muggle quidditch.

Intramural athletics[edit]

Although UCSC never had a track, the residential colleges regularly competed in an improvised "Slug Run" every spring from 1967 to 1982,[12] though the Run now is a community event and fundraiser event hosted by the cross-country club for much needed fund to pay for entry fees, hotel, and transportation to race.[13]

Approximately 25% of the student population participates in intramural athletics, which tend to be better funded than the intercollegiate athletic programs.[14]



The UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs competed in the NCAA Tournament across 11 active sports (5 men's and 6 women's) 108 times at the Division III level.[15]

NCAA Tournament Appearances
Women's basketball (2): 2016 • 2017
Men's cross country (2): 2017 • 2019
Women's golf (1): 2007
Men's soccer (8): 2000 • 2001 • 2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2009
Women's soccer (12): 1999 • 2000 • 2002 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2011 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2019
Men's swimming and diving (18): 1991 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010 • 2017
Women's swimming and diving (16): 1989 • 1993 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008
Men's tennis (33): 1983 • 1984 • 1987 • 1988 • 1989 • 1990 • 1991 • 1992 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010 • 2011 • 2012 • 2013 • 2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2018
Women's tennis (10): 1994 • 2002 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2012 • 2013 • 2014 • 2016
Men's volleyball (4): 2012 • 2013 • 2015 • 2019
Women's volleyball (2): 2013 • 2015


The Banana Slugs of UC Santa Cruz earned 7 NCAA team championships at the Division III level.[16]

  • Men's (7)
    • Tennis (7): 1989, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2005, 2007, 2009


School year Sport Opponent Score
1988–89 Men's tennis Swarthmore 5–4
1994–95 Men's tennis Washington College 4–1
1995–96 Men's tennis Emory 4–2
1997–98 Men's tennis Williams 4–2
2004–05 Men's tennis Middlebury 4–1
2006–07 Men's tennis Emory 5–1
2008–09 Men's tennis Amherst 5–0

Below are eight national club team championships:

  • Women's rugby – Division II (1): 2006 (USA Rugby)
  • Co-ed sailing (1): 1976 (ICSA)
  • Men's tennis – Division III (3): 2001, 2007, 2010 (ITA)
  • Men's ultimate (1): 1991 (USA Ultimate)
  • Women's ultimate (2): 1994, 1995 (USA Ultimate)

Note: Those with no denoted division is assumed that the institution earned a national championship at the highest level.


UC Santa Cruz had 18 Banana Slugs win NCAA individual championships at the Division III level.[16]


Banana slug (Ariolimax dolichophallus) at UCSC
Page 1 of the Daily Slug
Page 2 of the Daily Slug
The Daily Slug, a publication that accompanied a November 1985 publicity stunt in which UC Santa Cruz students flew a 40-ft helium-filled banana slug into the Berkeley–Stanford football "Big Game" at Berkeley.

UCSC's mascot is the banana slug (specifically, Ariolimax dolichophallus).[20] In 1970, volleyball team member David Van Cleve created the mascot "Banana Slugs" for the UCSC volleyball team. He was concerned that, as sports began to gain in popularity at the institution, a team name or mascot did not exist. His roommate, Bob Grindeland, silk-screened uniform shirts for the entire volleyball team in preparation for the All-Cal tournament that year. After their graduation in 1972, the team name was no longer used until 1974, when the UCSC club soccer team reinvigorated the Banana Slug mascot. Three soccer team members, Larry DeGhetaldi, Fred Bicknell, Sven Steinmo and their roommate, Richard Hedges, chose to name the team the Banana Slugs before an All-Cal tournament. The team's unusual name was noted by the San Jose Mercury News after the team suffered a humiliating defeat against the San Jose State Spartans. Several years later, when the club basketball team became more formalized (with a coach and expanded schedule), the athletic director at the time, Terry Warner, informed the team that they needed to have a mascot and that it had been chosen to be the Sea Lions. The team summarily rejected that name, claiming to not need any mascot. As such, their uniforms simply said "UCSC" on them. In 1981, when the university began more formally participating in NCAA intercollegiate sports, the then-chancellor and some student athletes declared the mascot to be the sea lions. Most students disliked the new mascot and offered an alternative mascot, the banana slug. In 1986, students voted via referendum to declare the banana slug the official mascot of UCSC – a vote the chancellor refused to honor, arguing that only athletes should choose the mascot. When a poll of athletes showed that they, too, wanted to be Slugs, the chancellor relented.

A chemistry major UC Berkeley transfer student to UCSC asked student activities for some service projects for Porter College. She was made the first Porter College mural committee chairperson and was asked to represent Porter College to the Mascot Committee at the time. She had a good background in student government and had some experience as an amateur Parliamentarian. A few mascot meetings were held, perhaps without quorum, and the Porter College representative was lobbied by the athletes and the science professors. On the way to the important (final) Mascot Committee meeting, she stepped on a already squished banana slug (by accident), and so it was decided in that moment to push for the Banana Slug. Knowing quorum was important, with one member allowed from each College, on the way to the meeting she found a Kresge student to be the Kresge representative. The leader of the committee was against the idea of the Banana Slug and taken aback to see the Porter College representative suddenly appearing to take control. He tried to say no quorum, so no decision, but a count was forced, and quorum was established. The Porter College representative had already gotten the Kresge representative to go along and second any motions she was going to make. She moved to make the Banana Slug the mascot, and was seconded immediately. The committee leader protested. Then, she quickly motioned to ratify by referendum (moved to a vote by the student body), and was immediately seconded, so moved. She then essentially organized and ran the vote, as she had been trained to do in her earlier days participating in student government. She knew that students would need their student body card to vote and so she rallied several classes to bring their cards and to vote.

The day of the vote, she rallied for students to go to the voting table. It was a surprise to administration that so many students showed up with their student body cards and voted. There were some irritated faculty (including the chancellor) that made their opinions known as the voting was being set up, so the Porter College representative decided to stay anonymous when she was called to do the People Magazine interview. She was told by the chancellor that the election didn't matter and the sea lion would be the mascot. One day, awhile later, the sea lion statue was removed from where it had been placed.

The June 16, 1986, issue of People magazine featured a full-page spread dedicated to the selection of the Banana Slug as the official mascot of UCSC.[21] In February 2008, ESPN Sports Travel named the UCSC Banana Slug as one of the ten best nicknames in college basketball.[22][23]

The "Fiat Slug" logo prominently featured on campus is a trademark of UCSC owned by the Regents. It was developed by Bernt Wahl and two other students during the mascot controversy, who later incorporated as "Oxford West" and licensed their design from the Regents to produce clothing inspired by the university. The slug also is featured along with the school's logo on Vincent Vega's T-shirt in the 1994 film Pulp Fiction.[24]

A sea lion statue can still be seen in front of the Thimann Hall lecture building.[25]

2016 referendum[edit]

By 2016 the athletic program had been operating at a deficit for many years, with its most recent expanding rising to $2 million per year even though its budget had remained at $1.4 million. Even so UCSC had the lowest operating budget in the NCAA Division III league.[2] With few exceptions, most Banana Slugs teams had consistently very low attendance at their matches. At the same time the university was undergoing budget cuts that required a proportionate decrease in operating costs. Because of apparent lack of student support for college athletics, it was decided that it would be reasonable to channel the funds to other areas. UC Santa Cruz Provost Allison Galloway stated that under the current circumstances the university had to decide whether to keep funding the athletic program or to be able to maintain student services for an increasing student population.[2]

The administration saw that the only available option to maintain the athletic program was to significantly increase the student athletic funding tuition fee from $5 per quarter to $90 per quarter, which would total to $270 for the academic year. In comparison, UC Berkeley fee totaled to $110 per year, UC San Diego fee was $268, and UC Davis fee was $150.[2][26] Both UC Berkeley and UC Davis were NCAA Division I programs and while UC San Diego was not D-I but D-II its spending budget was $9 million, more than 6 times UCSC's. UCSC's increase of the fee to $270 would only raise the budget to $2 million. An online poll was scheduled for the end of May, where students would be asked if they were willing to approve the increase. Due to opposition to the proposal by the university's athletes and coaches as well as alumni, it was considered to be very unlikely that such a significant increase would pass.[2] On May 24, 2016, it was announced that a record 43% of undergraduates participated in the referendum with 63% approving the significant fee increase in concept.[27] The measure did not actually create the new fee, however, but instead tested the support that students would have for a potential fee. The actual referendum to create the new fee waited a year, until 2017.

2017 referendum[edit]

In May 2017, students approved Measure 68, the Intercollegiate Athletics and Athletics Activities Access Fee, a new fee of $38.50 per student per quarter. The measure is expected to provide athletics with $1.5 million per year. 39.23% of the student body cast votes, and 79.84% of votes were in favor of the new fee. The fee expires in Spring 2042.[3]


  1. ^ "Quick Facts – UC Santa Cruz". Retrieved July 18, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Impending vote to cut UC Santa Cruz sports sparks outrage, sense of resignation". Archived from the original on 2016-07-17. Retrieved 2016-07-17.
  3. ^ a b "UC Santa Cruz athletics saved by Measure 68 passage". Santa Cruz Sentinel. May 31, 2017. Retrieved 2017-06-05.
  4. ^ "UCSC to play basketball games in Warriors arena". November 6, 2013.
  5. ^ "UCSC men's tennis team wins sixth national championship". Santa Cruz Sentinel. May 18, 2007. Retrieved February 8, 2008.
  6. ^ 2009 NCAA Men's Tennis Championships Results and Records(NCAA.org)
  7. ^ "A Brief History of UCSC Track & Field". College Running. 2017-05-30. Retrieved 2017-06-05.
  8. ^ "UCSC Men's Volleyball Semifinals of NCAA". April 28, 2012. Retrieved April 18, 2014.
  9. ^ UC Santa Cruz falls in National Title game
  10. ^ Moses, Ryan (June 6, 2008). "UCSC to cut men's and women's water polo teams". Santa Cruz Sentinel. Retrieved October 15, 2009.
  11. ^ "Women's rugby team wins Division II national championship". Currents. University of California, Santa Cruz. 10 (36). May 8, 2006. Retrieved January 29, 2008.
  12. ^ "Slug Run rekindles UCSC track tradition". Santa Cruz Sentinel. April 15, 2005. Retrieved February 8, 2008.
  13. ^ Cross Country Club Stays Strong, Despite Running on Fumes | City on a Hill Press
  14. ^ Conley, Mark (May 26, 2006). "UCSC students say yes to playing, no to watching". Santa Cruz Sentinel. Retrieved February 6, 2008.
  15. ^ "NCAA Championships Statistics". National Collegiate Athletic Association. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  16. ^ a b "Championships Summary" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Division III Men's Tennis Championships Record Book" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  18. ^ a b "Division III Men's Swimming & Diving Championships Record Book" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  19. ^ "Division III Women's Swimming & Diving Championships Record Book" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  20. ^ "Leading in the New Millennium" (PDF). UCSC University Relations. p. 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 16, 2005. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  21. ^ "Proving that slime is on their side, Santa Cruz students make the slug their mascot" (PDF). June 16, 1986. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 29, 2011.
  22. ^ "Off To College: What Name's Got Game?". Archived from the original on September 14, 2008. Retrieved July 4, 2008.
  23. ^ The full pages spread on page 85 of People featuring UCSC's mascot choice.
  24. ^ "Banana Slug About Us". Oxford West. Retrieved February 29, 2008.
  25. ^ "UCSC General Catalog 2004–2006: Student Life (Banana Slug Mascot section)". Archived from the original on February 20, 2006. Retrieved May 4, 2006.
  26. ^ "UC Santa Cruz chancellor calls for solutions to save NCAA sports". Archived from the original on 2016-07-17. Retrieved 2016-07-17.
  27. ^ "Athletics opinion poll wins student support". Archived from the original on 2016-05-25. Retrieved 2016-07-17.

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