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UC Davis Magazine

Volume 26 · Number 1 · Fall 2008


100 Years of Aggie Athletics

Sports has been an important part of UC Davis since the very beginning.


1909 UC Davis competes in its first athletics event of any kind, the All-Yolo League track meet.

Photo: 1912 basketball team



1910–11 The first athletics facilities are installed on campus: a track, football field and baseball diamond. Rugby, basketball and baseball compete in their first events. Indoor events such as basketball appear to have been played at the Judging Pavilion.

1912 Men’s basketball wins the school’s first conference title in any sport.


1919–20 First Aggie wrestling and boxing competition is held.

Photo: 1919-20 boxing


1921 University Farm Gym opens. It would become Recreation Hall, a student union, in 1940 after Hickey Gym was completed.

1922 The Block CA Society is formed. In addition to organizing social benefits and issuing awards, the primary function of Block CA was to finance athletics medical costs.

1922 UC Davis adopts use of “California Aggies” as a nickname. The athletes were previously known as “the Davis Farmers.”

1924 Rugby team captain Colby Edward “Babe” Slater ’17, generally regarded as UC Davis’ first athletics superstar, wins a gold medal at the Summer Olympics.

1925 Basketball coach Bill Driver lobbies for the adoption of the mustang as the school symbol.

1925 UC Davis joins its first organized athletics league, the Far Western Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, a.k.a. the Far Western Conference.

1929 Aggie football, now under the guidance of second-year head coach Irving “Crip” Toomey, wins its first Far Western Conference title.


Photo: Crip Toomey


1932 A group of women start a tennis team, leading to the formation of the Cal Aggie Women’s Association in 1933.

1937–38 Irving F. “Crip” Toomey becomes the first director of athletics.

1938 A modern gymnasium, which would later be named for Athletics Director Vern Hickey, is dedicated by the UC Regents.


1941 Elton Tobiassen cap-tures the NCAA boxing title at 145 pounds, becoming the school’s first-ever national champion.

1947 Marya Welch becomes the first woman employee of the physical education department. She forms the Women’s Athletic Association, which would serve as the
governing body of women’s sports on campus in the quarter-century preceding Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.


1954 The first Causeway Classic is played, and UC Davis wins, 14-0, at Hughes Stadium.


1966 UC Davis cross coun-try, under the guidance of coaches Bill Adams and Bob Hamilton, captures the team title at the NCAA Pacific Regional. It is believed to be the university’s first-ever team appearance in NCAA postseason competition in
any sport.

Photo: Marya Welch



1971 Two weeks after its historic “Miracle Game” at Cal State Hayward when UC Davis scored 16 points in 20 seconds, the UC Davis football team defeats Humboldt State on a last-second field goal. The Aggies clinch a Far Western Confer-ence title with that kick, igniting a record run of 20 consecutive league championships.

1974 Two-time NCAA Division II champion Anthony Terry places sixth at the D-I national meet in the triple jump with a leap of 52-4.75. He is the first UC Davis athlete to win Division I All-America honors in any sport.

1977 The new Recreation Hall (now called the Pavilion) opens.

1979 The men’s golf team, under the guid-ance of head coach Joe Carlson, wins the NCAA Championship, the first national team title by any Aggie athletics program.


1981–82 The NCAA begins sponsorship of women’s athletics championships, almost a full decade after the passage of Title IX. The women’s Golden State Conference and the men’s Far Western Conference, both of which UC Davis is a member, merge to form the Northern California Athletic Conference.

1983 Ken O’Brien, who led the UC Davis football team to its only NCAA Division II championship game, is selected in the first round (24th overall) by the New York Jets, becoming the first Aggie first-round draft pick in any sport.

1986 UC Davis plays its first baseball game at the new stadium, which would be named the James M. and Ann Dobbins Baseball Complex.


Photo: 1993 women's tennis team


1993 The women’s tennis team captures the NCAA championship. It is the second national title in four years for the Aggie women.

1993 UC Davis undergraduates vote in favor of a self-imposed tax of $34 per quarter to fund numerous programs threatened by budget cuts.

1996 The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics awards its inaugural Division II Directors Cup to UC Davis. The only all-sports award in collegiate athletics, the Directors Cup is given to the four-year institution with the most successful overall athletics program. The Aggies would win the prize again in 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003.

1996 Athletics Director Greg Warzecka announces the department’s intent to award athletics grants-in-aid, beginning in the 1998–99 academic year. Though far less than was offered by other Division II pro-grams, the grants represented a significant departure from the university’s long-held nonscholarship stance.

1997 At a time when many other universi-ties chose to discontinue men’s athletics pro-grams in an effort to maintain their compliance with Title IX, UC Davis began adding women’s sports, a trend that would continue for the next 12 years. This year, women’s rowing, water polo and lacrosse begin their first seasons as varsity programs.

1998 UC Davis men’s basketball defeats Ken-tucky Wesleyan, 83-77, to capture the NCAA championship.

1998 The Aggie women’s gymnastics team qualifies for the NCAA West Regional, mark-ing the first time UC Davis competed as a team in NCAA Division I postseason competition.

1999 UC Davis undergraduates pass an initiative providing funds for Aggie Stadi-um, the Activities and Recreation Center and the Schaal Aquatics Center.

1999 The magazine Sports Illustrated for Women selects UC Davis as the No. 1 uni-versity in the nation for women athletes. UC Davis wins the honor again in 2000, then Sports Illustrated names UC Davis as its top Division II school for 2001–02.

Photo: Jamila Demby


1999 Middle distance runner Jamila Demby becomes the first Aggie to win the NCAA Woman of the Year award. Her teammate Tanisha Silas wins the honor in 2002; then lacrosse player Kelly Albin wins in 2004.


2002 The Aggie women’s rowing team wins the inaugural NCAA Division II team title—the first NCAA team title for UC Davis in any sport since men’s basketball championship in 1998.

2002 The UC Davis student population passes the fifth athletics-related initiative in 11 years, this time funding a move from Division II to Division I.

2003 Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef announces that UC Davis would join the Big West Conference and begin a four-year reclassification process from NCAA Division II to Division I status.

2003 UC Davis softball wins its first-ever NCAA Division II title.

2003 UC Davis women’s rowing repeats as national champions by scoring the maximum 20 points.

2005–06 UC Davis teams defeat Stanford in five different sports during the academic year: men’s soccer, football, men’s basketball, wrestling and baseball.

2007 Senior 141-pounder Derek Moore captures the school’s first NCAA Division I title in any sport, earning a 17-2 technical fall over previously undefeated Ryan Lang of Northwestern.

2007 UC Davis is officially approved for NCAA Division I membership.

The primary source of early historical information is “Mustang Memories,” a compilation published in 1975 by former coach and administrator George Stromgren. Stromgren released several subsequent volumes of “Mustang Memories,” chronicling the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. His main sources were the yearbook, El Rodeo, and the school newspapers, Agricola and The California Aggie.