Illinois Fighting Illini

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Illinois Fighting Illini
University University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
Conference Big Ten
NCAA Division I / FBS
Athletic director Josh Whitman
Location Champaign-Urbana, Illinois
Varsity teams 21 (10 men's, 11 women's)
Football stadium Memorial Stadium
Basketball arena State Farm Center
Baseball stadium Illinois Field
Other arenas ARC Pool
Atkins Tennis Center
Eichelberger Field
Huff Hall
Illinois Soccer Stadium
Illinois Track Stadium
Stone Creek Golf Course
UI Arboretum
UI Armory
Nickname Fighting Illini
Fight song Illinois Loyalty, Oskee Wow-Wow
Colors Orange and Blue[1]
Illinois Wordmark 2014.jpg
Big Ten logo in Illinois' colors

The Illinois Fighting Illini (IPA /ɪ.l.n/) are the intercollegiate athletic teams of the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. The university offers 10 men's and 11 women's varsity sports.

The University operates a number of athletic facilities, including Memorial Stadium for football, the State Farm Center for both men's and women's basketball, Illinois Field for baseball, the ARC Pool for women's swimming and diving, the Atkins Tennis Center for men's and women's tennis, Eichelberger Field for softball, Huff Hall for men's and women's gymnastics, women's volleyball and men's wrestling, Illinois Soccer Stadium for women's soccer, Illinois Track Stadium for men's and women's outdoor track and field, the Stone Creek Golf Course for men's and women's golf, the University of Illinois Arboretum for cross country and the University of Illinois Armory for men's and women's indoor track and field.

The Fighting Illini lay claim to over twenty-five National Championships dating back to 1900.

Sports sponsored

Men's sports Women's sports
Baseball Basketball
Basketball Cross country
Cross country Golf
Football Gymnastics
Golf Soccer
Gymnastics Softball
Tennis Swimming & diving
Track & field Tennis
Wrestling Track & field
† – Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor.


Illini baseball has 10 NCAA Tournament Appearances, 33 Big Ten Champions titles and 4 Big Ten Tournament Championships from 1989, 1990, 2000 and 2011.


Women's program

The Fighting Illini women's basketball team began play in 1974. The team won the 1997 Big Ten Championship. They have made eight NCAA Tournament appearances and had two sweet sixteen appearances in 1997 and 1998.

Men's program

Illini Basketball titles include Helms National Champions in 1915, 5 NCAA Final Four appearances in 1949, 1951, 1952, 1989, 2005, 17 Big Ten Champions and Big Ten Tournament Championships in 2003, 2005. Through the end of the 2013–14 season, Illinois ranks 11th all-time in winning percentage and 14th all-time in wins among all NCAA Division I men's college basketball programs.

A Bristow Adams poster of an Illini football player
1904 NCAA football guide featuring Illini Football. The guide was the official rules book and record book of college football

Cross country

Men's program

The men's cross country team carries the title of Big Ten Champions in 1921, 1947 and 1984.

Women's program

The Fighting Illini women's cross country team began play in 1977. Illinois won an individual NCAA championship in 2009.


The University of Illinois has five national championships in football. The Fighting Illini now officially recognize the 1951 National Championship by the Boand selecting body,[2] but as recently as 2006 this was not mentioned officially by the school.[3] The team also has 15 Big Ten Championship Football victories with 8 Bowl Game Victories at the 1947 Rose Bowl, 1952 Rose Bowl, 1964 Rose Bowl, 1990 Florida Citrus Bowl, 1994 Liberty Bowl, 1999 Bowl, 2010 Texas Bowl, and 2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.


Men's program

The men's golf team play their home matches on the Stone Creek Golf Course five miles from the university's campus, and are currently led by head coach Mike Small. The Fighting Illini men's golf program has won 15 Big Ten championships and in 2013 finished as national runner-up at the NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championships, which was the highest finish in the program's history. 2014 was the third time in the past four years the program had qualified for the match play portion of the NCAA Men's Golf Championships in which the final eight teams compete in a bracket format.[4]

Women's program

The Fighting Illini women's golf team began play in 1975. The team has made four NCAA Tournament appearances in 2002, 2003, 2011 and 2012.


Men's program

The men's gymnastics team have been invited to 44 NCAA tournaments and have won 10 team NCAA championships, which is second most all-time only to Penn State Nittany Lions 12 team titles. Additionally, the Fighting Illini have won an all-time record 53 individual NCAA titles.[5] The Illini hold their competitions at George Huff Hall on the Champaign side of campus, and the team trains and holds practices at the Kenney Gym on the Urbana side of campus.[6]

Women's program

The Fighting Illini women's gymnastics team began play in 1974. The team won three Big Ten Championships in 1990, 1991 and 1992.


The Fighting Illini women's soccer team began play in 1997. The team won two Big Ten Championships in 2003 and 2011. They have made twelve NCAA Tournaments appearances in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. The team has four sweet sixteen appearances in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2013 and one elite eight appearance in 2004.


The Fighting Illini softball team began play in 2000. The team has made six NCAA Tournament appearances in 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2016 and 2017.

Swimming and diving

The Fighting Illini women's swimming and diving team began play in 1974. The team had individual NCAA champions in 1983, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007.


Men's program

The Illinois men's tennis program was founded in 1908, but has enjoyed most of its success in recent years. The Illini have been one of the most successful men's tennis programs in the nation over the past twenty seasons, winning nine consecutive Big Ten Championships from 1997–2005; six of seven Big Ten Tournament Championships between 1999 and 2005; appearing in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen fourteen times, including eight years in a row (2002–09); advancing to three NCAA Final Fours between 2003 and 2007; and winning the 2003 NCAA National Championship. They have also won two ITA National Team Indoor Championships (2003, 2004)[7] and lost in the championship match three other times (1998,1999,2002). Illinois men's tennis owns the record for longest consecutive win streak in NCAA history at 64 matches, spanning from their first match of the 2002–2003 season and ending with a 4–2 defeat by UCLA in the semifinals of the 2004 NCAA Men's Tennis Tournament.

Women's program

The Fighting Illini women's tennis team began play in 1975. The women's tennis team has made nine NCAA Tournament appearances in 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2008 and 2010.

Track and field

Men's program

The men's Indoor Track and Field team has a total of 20 Big Ten Champion titles. For outdoor track and field the team has NCAA National Champions in 1921 1927[8] 1944, 1946, and 1947. In addition, the team carries a total of 29 Big Ten Championships.

  • Indoor Track and Field Big Ten Champions: 1912, 1913, 1914, 1916, 1920, 1921, 1924, 1928, 1946, 1947, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1958, 1977, 1981, 1987, 1988, 1989
  • Outdoor Track and Field Big Ten Champions: 1907, 1909, 1913, 1914, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1924, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1934, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1975, 1977, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1994, 2015

Women's program

The Fighting Illini women's track and field team began play in 1976.The indoor track and field team won five Big Ten Championships in 1989, 1992, 1993, 1995 and 1996. The outdoor track and field team won the 1970 Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women national championship and six Big Ten Championships in 1988, 1989, 1992, 1995, 2005 and 2007.


Women's volleyball started in 1974.,[9] Since moving into Huff Hall from the Kenney Gym in 1990, the Illinois Volleyball team has remained in the top 10 in the nation for average home attendance. In 2013, the program broke its previous home attendance record, averaging 3,117 per match.[10] Kenney Gym served as the initial home court from 1974 through the 1989 season. Since the founding of the volleyball program in 1974, the Fighting Illini have had 30+ winning seasons.


The current head coach of the University of Illinois Fighting Illini Wrestling team is Jim Heffernan under his 5th season, and 22nd with the University of Illinois. Huff Hall is the current home arena seating approximately 4,500.[11]

  • Big Ten Champions: 1913, 1917, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1930, 1932, 1935, 1937, 1946, 1947, 1952, 2005
  • The University of Illinois has had 24 NCAA National Champions with the most recent being Jesse Delgado in 2013 and 2014 and Isaiah Martinez in 2015 and 2016.

References: Men's basketball,[12] Men's fencing,[13][14] Men's hockey,[15][16] Men's polo,[17][18] Men's soccer,[19] Men's water polo[12][19]

Illinois fencing won National Championships in 1956 and 1958. Fencing was dropped as a varsity sport in 1993. Men's swimming and diving was dropped as a varsity sport in 1993, but were Big Ten Champions in 1911, 1912 and 1913.

National championships

NCAA team championships

The University of Illinois has won 18 NCAA national championships:[20]

Other team championships

Below are 7 national team titles that were not bestowed by the NCAA:

^ The NCAA does not award a national championship in Division I FBS football. Instead, polls were used to determine the national champion until 2013. In this case, the AP Poll and the Coaches Poll, were the two biggest selectors. Since 2014, the College Football Playoff has determined the national champion. These championships are not recognized by the NCAA because the championship was won without participating in an NCAA recognized event or tournament.

Club sports

Club sports include men's ice hockey, men's lacrosse, women's ice hockey, rowing, men's rugby, women's rugby, tennis, men's volleyball, men's soccer, women's soccer, men's ultimate frisbee, women's ultimate frisbee, men's and women's cross country, and men's and women's track and field.

Ice hockey

The men's ice hockey team has played in the Division I Central States Collegiate Hockey League conference since 1979, which is part of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA).

Men's rugby

Founded in 1963, the University of Illinois Men's Rugby Football Club plays in Division 1-A in the Big Ten Universities conference. The Illini have experienced success in college rugby, including winning several Big 10 championships in the 1980s and reaching the national semifinals in 1980, 1983 and 1985.[22][23] The Illini play their home matches in Urbana at the Complex Fields.

Wheelchair basketball

The men's wheelchair basketball team was founded in 1948 by Dr. Timothy Nugent in response to a large number of disabled veterans using the G.I. Bill to attend the University of Illinois.[24] Dr. Nugent later started a women's team in 1970. A total of 29 national championships are claimed between the men and women’s teams.

Athletic facilities

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