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The Washington State Cougars are the athletic teams at Washington State Universitymarker; the term applies to any of the school's varsity teams. Washington State University is a member of the Pacific-10 Conference, which participates in the NCAA Division I. The athletic program comprises nine women's sports: basketball, cross country, golf, rowing, soccer, swimming, tennis, track and field, volleyball; and six men's sports: baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, track and field. The school also offers various intramural sports.

Varsity athletics

Washington State University is a member of the Pac-10 athletic conference. The school's mascot is Butch T. Cougar and the school's colors are crimson and gray. Varsity athletics include men's baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, and track and field, as well as women's basketball, cross country, golf, rowing, soccer, swimming, softball, volleyball, tennis, and track and field.

In the past, WSU had varsity programs in boxing, wrestling, and gymnastics. In 1937, Roy Petragallo and Ed McKinnon won the NCAA boxing championship, WSU's first national championship. The men's track and field team won the 1977 NCAA Men's Indoor Track and Field Championship.


During the 2001-2004 seasons, the Cougar football teams were distinguished by three ten-win seasons, three top ten poll rankings, and appearances in the Sun Bowl, Rose Bowl and Holiday Bowl. The Cougars shared the Pac-10 title in 2002. Paul Wulff, WSU's 31st head football coach, enters his second season at the helm when the Cougars take on the Stanford Cardinal on September 5, 2009, at home.

Men's Basketball

In 1917, the Cougars won their only basketball National Championship. In the late-1970s when George Raveling was head coach, the Cougars were among the Pac-10 conference's top teams. Before becoming WSU head coach in 2005, Tony Bennett spent three seasons at WSU as an assistant to his father, Dick Bennett. In both the 2006–2007 and 2007–2008 seasons, his Cougar teams had 26 wins each, tying the Washington State school record set by the 1940–41 team. Ken Bone was tapped as the Cougars' head coach on April 6, 2009, after the younger Bennett accepted the head coaching position at Virginia.


Baseball was also popular during the Buck Bailey and Bobo Brayton eras. In 2006, the Cougars were ranked as high as 28th in the nation after winning the series against Stanford the weekend of March 26th, 2006. The track and field program has given WSU one of its three national championships (two NCAA titles) in 1977 (1917 Men's Basketball, 1937 Boxing).


Washington State's biggest rival is the University of Washingtonmarker (UW) Huskies. One of the most important athletic contests for both schools is the Apple Cup: the annual game between the Cougars and the University of Washington Huskies and is traditionally held on the third Saturday of November.

As the two main public universities in the state, WSU and UW have a geographic rivalry.

Strong rivalries also exist between WSU and the other Pac-10 teams of the Pacific Northwest: the University of Oregonmarker Ducks and Oregon State Universitymarker Beavers. Competition between the schools in football has been very competitive over the years, as the Cougars hold a 47-41-3 advantage in the series against OSU and trail UO by a tally of 38-39-7.

WSU’s closest geographic rival is the University of Idahomarker, another land-grant school only eight miles (13 km) east in Moscow, Idahomarker. The Battle of the Palouse, the annual football game, was revived in 1998 for a 10 year run, and is usually held at Martin Stadiummarker in Pullman. The game was not played in 2008; WSU has won the last seven games and holds a 70-18-3 (.786) advantage in the series.

1915 football national championship

The Washington State Warriors won the 1916 Rose Bowl, finishing 10-0 and outscored its opponents 204-10, was in fact one of three teams that went undefeated that year, the other two being Cornell Universitymarker (currently recognized as the 1915 champions) and the University of Pittsburghmarker. In 1915 Washington State College was awarded the opportunity to play in the Rose Bowl Gamemarker and was set to play Brown Universitymarker, which had lost only one game, to Harvard Universitymarker (who in turn lost to Cornell 10-0) by a score of 16-7. Washington State beat Brown in the Rose Bowl 14-0. However a 1915 national championship was never awarded until 1935, when a Princeton Universitymarker graduate submitted the first national polling of that season. Cornell was given the championship twenty years after the 1915 season.

Spirit and traditions

Cougar mascot

The mascot became the Indians during the decade spanning 1910-1919. Three football coaches came from the famous Carlisle Indian College in Pennsylvaniamarker: Frank Shivley, William "Lone Star" Dietz and Gus Welch.

Following the first football game between WSU and Californiamarker in 1919, an Oaklandmarker cartoonist portrayed the Washington State team as fierce Northwest cougars chasing the defeated Golden Bears. A few days later, on October 28, WSU students officially designated "Cougars" as their team mascot.

In 1927 during the Homecoming football game against the University of Idahomarker, Washington State Governor Roland H. Hartley presented a cougar cub to the WSU students. The cub was originally to be called "Governor Hartley," in honor of its donor. The governor gracefully declined and suggested the name "Butch," in honor of Herbert "Butch" Meeker of Spokanemarker, who was WSU's gridiron football star at the time.

Governor Clarence D. Martin presented Butch II to the student body in 1938. Butch III and IV were twin cubs presented by Governor Arthur B. Langlie in January 1942. Governor Langlie also presented Butch V in 1955. Butch VI, the last live mascot on campus, died in the summer of 1978. Governor Albert Rosellini had presented him to WSU in 1964 from Seattlemarker's Woodland Park Zoo.

Today, the mascot, named Butch T. Cougar, is a student wearing a cougar costume. The student playing the mascot is anonymous; the student's identity is only revealed after the last sporting event of the school year, usually the last home basketball game of the season.

Fight song

Fight, fight, fight for Washington State,

Win the victory!

Win the day for Crimson and Gray,

Best in the West, we know you'll all do your best,

So on, on, on, on fight till the end,

Honor and glory you must win!

So fight, fight, fight for Washington State,

and victory!

W-A-S-H-I-N-G-T-O-N S-T-A-T-E C-O-U-G-S Go Cougs!


The ZZU CRU is the official student fan club for WSU Basketball. The $20 membership fee gives students an official club t-shirt, discount card that is good for 15% discounts at various local businesses, exclusive access to prime seating at games, contests, and exclusive member opportunities for player autographs. The lower section of the arena, where the ZZU CRU sits, is called The Cage. ZZU CRU members' events throughout the year include a Pre-Season Party, ZZU CRU @ the COUG, and a Post-Season Party. Members earn prizes based on the number of basketball games they attend.The attendance prizes for attending women's games are the best. At the end of the season, those with the best attendance get better prize packages, including clothing and sports equipment. The top 10 members are entered into a drawing to receive two basketball tickets to the Pac-10 Tournament.Currently, ZZU CRU has a count of 2,750 members for the 2008-2009 season. Members can be anyone from students to alumni, to visitors who just would like a shirt.

Victory Bell

In the late 1800s the bell was mounted on the ground in the center of campus to start and dismiss class. Later, it was placed on top of Old College Hall when automatic bells were used, and then on Bryan Hall. The bell was first rung in victory after WSU beat the Washington Huskies by the women's basketball team in 1902. Later, the members of the Intercollegiate Knights rang the bell following a football win. It was subsequently moved to the present College Hall, and now rests on the west side of the Alumni Centre where it is rung by the Student Alumni Connection after each football win.

Presence on ESPN College GameDay

The popular ESPN College GameDay program has, , never been broadcast from WSU. An unofficial, but well organized effort to place the WSU flag in view of the GameDay cameras for every broadcast has been acknowledged by the GameDay crew, but the show still has no plans to broadcast from Pullman.


  1. Pac-10 Conference And The NCAA Championships
  2. Cougars, Doba face pivotal season Retrieved July 21, 2009
  3. 2002-03 Pacific-10 Football Season In Review
  4. Ken Bone Profile Retrieved July 21, 2009
  5. 1916 Rose Bowl game
  6. Tom Benjey Time for WSU to claim 1915 national title, February 17, 2006

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