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University of Arizona Wildcats
University University of Arizona
Colors Cardinal Red & Navy Blue
Mascot Wildcats
Fight Song Fight, Wildcats, Fight
Athletic Director Jim Livengood
Stadium Arizona Stadiummarker
Basketball Arena McKale Centermarker
Baseball Field Jerry Kindall Field at Frank Sancet Stadiummarker
Softball Field Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadiummarker
NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four Appearances 1988, 1994, 1997, 2001
NCAA Baseball National Championships 1976, 1980, 1986
NCAA Baseball National Title Appearances 1956, 1959, 1963, 1976, 1980, 1986
NCAA Softball National Championships 1991, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2006, 2007
NCAA Softball National Title Appearances 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2007
NCAA Men's Golf National Championships 1992
NCAA Women's Golf National Championships 1996, 2000
NCAA Women's Tennis (Doubles) National Championships 1993
NCAA Men's Swimming & Diving National Championships 2008
NCAA Women's Swimming & Diving National Championships 2008
NCAA Individual National Championships 115
NCCH/ACHA Men's Hockey National Championships 1985
AIAW Synchronized Swimming National Championships 1980, 1981, 1984
PAC-10 Men's Basketball Titles 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005
PAC-10 Women's Basketball Titles 2004
PAC-10 Baseball Titles 1980, 1989, 1992
PAC-10 Softball Titles 1992, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007
PAC-10 Men's Cross Country Titles 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1991, 1994, 1999
PAC-10 Men's Golf Titles 1987, 1991, 2004
PAC-10 Women's Golf Titles 1992, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002
PAC-10 Women's Swimming & Diving Titles 2000, 2006, 2007
PAC-10 Women's Volleyball Titles 2000
PAC-10 Women's Soccer Titles 2005

The athletic teams at the University of Arizonamarker are known as the Arizona Wildcats.

Athletic program

The University of Arizona participates in the NCAA's Division I-A in the Pacific Ten Conference. Arizona joined the PAC-10 in 1978 along with Arizona State Universitymarker, bringing the conference to its current 10 teams. The school colors are cardinal red and navy blue, and the official fight song is "Fight! Wildcats! Fight!", though "Bear Down, Arizona!" is more commonly used and "Bear Down" is the university's motto.


The Wildcats name derived from a 1914 football game with then Californiamarker champions Occidental Collegemarker, where the L.A. Times asserted that Arizona "showed the fight of wildcats."

  • The first sport to bring national recognition to UA was Polo. The 1924 UA Polo Team captured the Western Collegiate Championship, and traveled to the east coast to present U.S. President Calvin Coolidge with a cowboy hat. The UA Polo team faced Princeton Universitymarker for the intercollegiate title and lost 6-2 and 8-0. With the onset of World War II, the UA was unable to continue sponsoring a Polo team.


The University mascots are anthropomorphized wildcat named Wilbur and Wilma. The identities of Wilbur and Wilma are kept secret through the year as the mascots appear only in costume, except typically until the last home basketball game of the year. Then, at halftime, Wilbur and Wilma are exposed! In 1986, Wilbur and Wilma, a longtime couple, were married. Together, Wilbur and Wilma appear along with the cheerleading squad at most Wildcat sporting events.

Arizona's first mascot was a real desert bobcat named "Rufus Arizona", introduced in 1915 and named after the university's president at the time, Rufus B. von KleinSmid.


A strong athletic rivalry exists between the University of Arizona and Arizona State Universitymarker located in Tempemarker and has been recognized as one of the most bitter rivalries in college sports. The football rivalry game between the schools is known as "The Duel in the Desert." The trophy awarded after each game is the Territorial Cup. Rivalries have also been created with other Pac-10 teams, especially University of California, Los Angelesmarker which has been a consistent softball rival and was Arizona's main basketball rival in the early and mid-1990s. With UCLA's 2006 Final Four appearance, the rivalry was revitalized. Arizona and New Mexicomarker, for many years, had a rivalry based on both teams' former membership in the Western Athletic Conference. The teams played for the Kit Carson Rifle trophy, but it stopped being awarded after the 1997 Bowl.


Varsity teams

The University of Arizonamarker fields 18 intercollegiate varsity teams that compete in the NCAA. These teams include:

Men's Basketball

The men's basketball team has been one of the nation's most successful programs since Lute Olson was hired as head coach in 1983 and was known as a national powerhouse in Division I-A men's basketball. As of 2008, the team had amassed 21 consecutive 20-win seasons, and reached the NCAA Tournament 25 consecutive years, which is the longest currently active streak. The Wildcats have reached the Final Four of the NCAA tournament in 1988, 1994, 1997, and 2001. In 1997, Arizona defeated the University of Kentuckymarker, the defending national champions, to win the NCAA National Championship. Their championship team was led by future NBA players Mike Bibby and Michael Dickerson, as well as Final Four MVP Miles Simon. Bennett Davison and A.J. Bramlet rounded out the starting five. To this date, they are the only team to defeat three number one seeds in the same tournament: Kansas (Sweet 16); North Carolina (Final 4); and Kentucky in the Championship Game. They won a thriller game in the Elite Eight in double overtime to take them to the Final Four (NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship).

Arizona also has a history of first round upset losses in the NCAA tournament, including being one of only four teams in history to lose a game as a 2 seed (to Santa Clara, in 1993), one of only fourteen 3 seeds to lose a game (to East Tennessee State, in 1992), and one of twenty 4 seeds to lose a game (to Oklahoma, in 1999).

After 25 years of coaching Arizona, Lute Olson retired shortly before the 2008-2009 season, largely due to on-going health issues. After several years of coaching by interim head coaches, Arizona named Sean Miller, formerly the head coach of Xavier, as the next Wildcats head coach.


The football team began at the University of Arizona in 1899 under the nickname "Varsity" (a name kept until the 1914 season when the team earned the name "Wildcats"). The football team was notably successful in the 1990s under head coach Dick Tomey and his "Desert Swarm" defense that was characterized by tough, hard-nosed tactics. In 1993, the team had its first 10-win season and drubbed the powerhouse Miami Hurricanes in the Fiesta Bowl by a score of 29-0. In 1998, the team posted a school-record 12-1 season and made the Holiday Bowl in which it defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Arizona ended that season ranked 3rd nationally and 2nd in several publications. Despite a stellar season, Arizona's single loss caused them to finish second in the Pac 10. From 1999-2007 Arizona has had a mix of unsuccessful seasons without any bowl apperences. Then in 2008 Arizona returned to prominence with a successful season and a bowl win against BYUmarker in the Las Vegas Bowl. Arizona has started to build up its old time success with a 6-2 record, and an appearance in the BCS standings ranked #18. This is the first time they have been ranked in the BCS poll since 1998. After their win again Washington State Arizona has became bowl eligible for the 3rd time in 4 years.


The baseball team has captured three national championship titles in 1976, 1980, and 1986. Arizona baseball teams have appeared in the NCAA College World Series a total of 15 times, including 1954, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1963, 1966, 1970, 1976, 1979, 1980, 1985, 1986, 2004 (College World Series). The team is currently coached by Head coach Andy Lopez, Assistant Coach Jeff Casper, Assistant Coach Mark Wasikowski, and Volunteer Assistant Coach Keith Francis. The players include RHP Preston Guilmet, LHP David Coulon, RHP Ryan Perry, RHP Mike Colla, RHP Jason Stoffel (closer), LHP Daniel Schlereth, 1B C.J. Ziegler, 2Bs Colt Sedbrook and Mike Weldon, SS Bryce Ortega and Robert Abel, 3B Dillon Baird, OFs T.J. Steele, Jon Gaston, Diallo Fon, and Bobby Coyle. Their top recruit is P Kyle Lobstein, a polished lefty from Coconino HS in Arizona with a smooth delivery and a three pitch mix.


The Arizona softball team is among the top programs in the country and a perennial powerhouse. The softball team has won eight NCAA Women's College World Series titles, in 1991, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2006 and 2007 under head coach Mike Candrea (NCAA Softball Championship). The team has appeared in the NCAA National Championship in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2006 and 2007, a feat second only to UCLAmarker. Mike Candrea also led the 2004 U.S. Olympic softball team to a gold medal in Athens, Greecemarker.





























Men's and Women's Golf

The university's golf teams have also been notably successful. The men's team won a national championship in 1992 (NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championships), while the women's team won national championships in 1996 and 2000 (NCAA Women's Golf Championship). Annika Sörenstam won an individual national title in 1991, and Lorena Ochoa was NCAA Women's Player of the Year in 2001 and 2002 before leaving UA early to turn pro.


Three championships for synchronized swimming were won in 1980, 1981, and 1984, though these championships were in the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, and not the NCAA.

The women's swimming & diving team won their first national championship in 2008.

The lacrosse team is affectionately known as the “Laxcats”. Its existence, since the mid-sixties, is saturated with a rich tradition of success. In the 1960’s, Arizona was a Division I Varsity program, coached by the legendary Carl Runk, an Arizona graduate and football player. In 1998 Carl retired after twenty-eight years at Towson Universitymarker in Marylandmarker. The most well known player to graduate from that era was Geraldo Rivera, who played goalie. During that Varsity era, the team rose as high as number 3 in the Nation.

In the early 70’s Craig Hassell, a transplanted Long Island lacrosse fanatic, stepped up and kept the tradition alive. The 70’s rosters were packed with the types of free spirited players that typified the era. Predominately from Long Island and Maryland, these free spirits had little cares other than their dedication to the game. In 1976, the timing was right for yet another transplanted Long Islander to assume the responsibility for the stability of the University of Arizona Program. Mickey-Miles Felton, at the age of 30, had begun his Arizona career as a defenseman, was named the Head Coach.

The Laxcats have claimed only one Conference Title, occurring in 1990. In 1997, the Laxcats were ranked Number 1 heading into the National Tournament but were upset early by Brigham Young University in the second round of the Tournament. Following the 2001 season Mickey-Miles Felton stepped down with 278 career wins to assume the role of General Manager. Assistant Coach Adam Hopkins, of New York Institute of Technologymarker, was elevated to the top spot and the Tradition continued. Following the 2003 season, Hopkins left and his assistant Ken Broschart was moved into the Head Coaching position. Broschart brought in Matt Hunter, and the following year Tim Spruyt as the NYIT pipeline continued. Hopkins, Broschart, and Hunter were all All Americans while at NYIT. Today the lacrosse program is a club sport and does not compete at the NCAA level.

Although surprising to some, the University of Arizona has a strong history in ice hockey. The school's hockey team, known as the Icecats, has won over 520 games since its inception in 1978. The Icecats defeated Penn Statemarker for the National Collegiate Club Hockey National Championship in 1985. More than 100,000 fans attend Icecats home games each year, the third largest draw in all of college hockey. It should be noted, however, that the Icecats do not compete at the NCAA level and is a club sport. Coach Leo Golembiewski was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.

Notable athletic venues

  • McKale Centermarker, opened in 1973, is currently used by men's and women's basketball, women's gymnastics, and women's volleyball. The official capacity has changed often. The largest crowd to see a game in McKale was 15,176 in 1976 for a game against the University of New Mexicomarker, a main rival during that period. In 2000, the floor in McKale was dubbed Lute Olson Court, for the basketball program's winningest coach. During a memorial service in 2001 for Lute's wife, Bobbi, who died earlier that year after a battle with ovarian cancer, the floor was renamed Lute and Bobbi Olson Court. In addition to the playing surface, McKale Center is host to the offices of the UA athletic department. McKale Center is named after J.F. Pop McKale, who was athletic director and coach from 1914 through 1957.

  • Arizona Stadiummarker, built in 1928, seats over 56,000 patrons. It's the home for the University of Arizona Wildcats football team, and has also been used for university graduations. The turf is bermuda grass, taken from the local Tucson National Golf Club. Arizona football's home record is 258-139-12. The largest crowd ever in Arizona Stadium was 59,920 in 1996 for a game against Arizona State University.

  • Jerry Kindall Field at Frank Sancet Stadium hosts baseball games.

  • Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium hosts softball games.


  • At the beginning of each school year, freshmen repaint the "A" on "A" Mountainmarker, a Tucsonmarker and Wildcat landmark just west of campus.

  • One of the two bells rescued from the USS Arizonamarker after the attack on Pearl Harbormarker has a permanent home in the clock tower of the Student Union Memorial Center on campus. The bell first arrived on campus in July 1946. The bell is rung seven times on the third Wednesday of every month at 12:07 p.m. to honor the achievements of the UA, as well as after football victories over all schools located outside of Arizona.

History of Bear Down, Arizona!

In 1952 Jack K. Lee, an applicant for the UA's band directorship, departed Tucson by air following an interview with UA administration. From his airplane window, Lee observed the huge letters on the roof of the UA gymnasium reading "BEAR DOWN". Inspired, Lee scribbled down what was at first a poem, but later turned into a song. By the time his plane landed, he had virtually finished it. A few weeks later Lee was named the UA band director, and in September 1952, the UA band performed "Bear Down, Arizona!" in public for the first time. Soon thereafter, "Bear Down, Arizona!" became accepted as UA's fight song despite the fact that the Chicago Bears fight song, "Bear Down, Chicago Bears", was introduced in 1941.

History behind the motto Bear Down

The battle cry was created by a popular student athlete, John "Button" Salmon, who was the student body president, as well as the starting quarterback for the Wildcat football team and the catcher for the Wildcat baseball team.

The day before the first game of the 1926 football season, Salmon and three friends were involved in an automobile accident and their vehicle flipped over a ravine. Although Salmon's friends were not injured, Salmon suffered a severe spinal cord injury.

In the aftermath of the accident, football coach Pop McKale visited him in the hospital every day. During McKale's last visit, Salmon's last message to his teammates was, "Tell them...tell the team to bear down." John Salmon died on October 18, 1926.

The following year, the University of Arizona student body approved that "Bear Down" would be the new slogan for all Wildcat athletic teams. In 1939, the Arizona state legislature issued a decree that "Bear Down" would be the exclusive property of the University of Arizona. (Bear Down)

Fight! Wildcats! Fight!

Hail Arizona Wildcats

Fighting for old UA

A raging team of Wildcats

Growling for the fray

There's not a team that can stop them

When the ball goes into play

So Fight! Team!

Fight with all your might

And win today!

Fight, Wildcats, Fight for Arizona

We're with you ever staunch and true

This day we hail you and we cheer you

They can't defeat the Red and Blue

Circle the ends and crash through the center

Hit hard and gain on ev'ry play

Fight Wildcats

Fight! Fight! Fight!

We'll win today!


  • The first sport to bring national recognition to UA was Polo. The 1924 UA Polo Team captured the Western Collegiate Championship, and traveled to the east coast to present U.S. President Calvin Coolidge with a cowboy hat. The UA Polo team faced Princeton Universitymarker for the intercollegiate title and lost 6-2 and 8-0. With the onset of World War II, the UA was unable to continue sponsoring a Polo team.


  1. University of Arizona History & Traditions "History & Traditions"
  2. Unofficial U of A sports blog maintained by alumni "The Beardown"

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