UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs

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UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs
University University of California, Santa Cruz
Conference Independent
NCAA Division III
Athletic director TBA
Location Santa Cruz, California
Varsity teams 15
Basketball arena Kaiser Permanente Arena
Mascot Sammy the Slug
Fight song Banana Slugs Racing Down the Field
Colors Navy Blue and Gold[1]
Website www.goslugs.com

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, cross country and diving, 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.

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 tuition 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 tuition to maintain the existence of the athletic program.

Varsity sports[edit]

By defeating Emory to win the 2007 NCAA Division III National Championship in men's tennis, UCSC has won six men's tennis team championships.[2] The Banana Slugs were also runners-up in men's soccer in 2004. 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 were cut in 2008 due to budget constraints.[3]

In 2012, the Men's Volleyball Team made a Division III NCAA Semifinal's appearance.[4] In 2013, the Men's Volleyball Team qualified for a second appearance to the Division III NCAA Tournament. UCSC is one of the largest but one of the least funded NCAA Division III members.[5]

Starting in 2013, both men's and women's basketball teams play downtown at the Kaiser Permanente Arena.[6]

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.[7] However, many other club teams exist such as soccer, lacrosse, baseball, rugby, and softball.

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,[8] 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.[9]

Approximately 25% of the student population participates in intramural athletics, which tend to be better funded than the intercollegiate athletic programs.[10]


banana slug (Ariolimax dolichophallus) at UCSC
Fiat Slug Newspaper
Fiat Slug Newspaper

(Original "Daily Slug" that came up with 'Fiat Slug' in November 1985. The UC Santa Cruz students flew in 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),[11] In 1974 the UCSC club soccer team chose the mascot the "Banana Slugs". UCSC had no formal team sports (and no fraternities) at the time, therefore they had no mascot. Three 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. They felt that UCSC should have a mascot too. The team's unusual name was noted by the San Jose Mercury News after the team suffered an 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. Original "Daily Slug" that came up with 'Fiat Slug' in November 1985. The UC Santa Cruz students flew in a 40 ft helium filled Banana Slug into the Berkeley-Stanford football "Big Game" at Berkeley and the Daily Slug was the accompanied publication.

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.[12] In February 2008, ESPN Sports Travel named the UCSC Banana Slug as one of the ten best nicknames in college basketball.[13][14]

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.[15]

A sea lion statue can still be seen in front of the Thimann Hall lecture building.[16]

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.[17] 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.[17]

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.[17][18] 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. Despite 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.[17] On May 24th 2016, it was announced that a record 43% of undergraduates participated in the referendum with 63% approving the significant fee increase.[19]


  1. ^ "UC Santa Cruz Logo Colors". Retrieved 2016-07-18. 
  2. ^ "UCSC men's tennis team wins sixth national championship". Santa Cruz Sentinel. May 18, 2007. Retrieved February 8, 2008. 
  3. ^ Moses, Ryan (June 6, 2008). "UCSC to cut men's and women's water polo teams". Santa Cruz Sentinel. Retrieved October 15, 2009. 
  4. ^ "UCSC Men's Volleyball Semifinals of NCAA". April 28, 2012. Retrieved April 18, 2014. 
  5. ^ Moses, Ryan (November 26, 2007). "Athletic director Linda Spradley spends her days keeping UCSC's teams afloat". Santa Cruz Sentinel. Retrieved February 6, 2008. 
  6. ^ "UCSC to play basketball games in Warriors arena". November 6, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Women's rugby team wins Division II national championship". Currents. University of California, Santa Cruz. 10 (36). May 8, 2006. Retrieved January 29, 2008. 
  8. ^ "Slug Run rekindles UCSC track tradition". Santa Cruz Sentinel. April 15, 2005. Retrieved February 8, 2008. 
  9. ^ Cross Country Club Stays Strong, Despite Running on Fumes | City on a Hill Press
  10. ^ Conley, Mark (May 26, 2006). "UCSC students say yes to playing, no to watching". Santa Cruz Sentinel. Retrieved February 6, 2008. 
  11. ^ "Leading in the New Millennium" (PDF). UCSC University Relations. Retrieved October 15, 2006. 
  12. ^ "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. 
  13. ^ "Off To College: What Name's Got Game?". Retrieved July 4, 2008. 
  14. ^ The full pages spread on page 85 of People featuring UCSC's mascot choice.
  15. ^ "Banana Slug About Us". Oxford West. Retrieved February 29, 2008. 
  16. ^ "UCSC General Catalog 2004–2006: Student Life (Banana Slug Mascot section)". Archived from the original on February 20, 2006. Retrieved May 4, 2006. 
  17. ^ a b c d "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. 
  18. ^ "UC Santa Cruz chancellor calls for solutions to save NCAA sports". Archived from the original on 2016-07-17. Retrieved 2016-07-17. 
  19. ^ "Athletics opinion poll wins student support". Archived from the original on 2016-05-25. Retrieved 2016-07-17. 

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