The 1959 NCAA University Division Basketball Tournament involved 23 schools playing in single-elimination play to determine the national champion of men’s NCAA Division I college basketball in the United States. It began on March 7, 1959, and ended with the championship game on March 21 in Louisville, Kentucky. A total of 27 games were played, including a third-place game in each region and a national third-place game.
California, coached by Pete Newell, won the national title with a 71–70 victory in the final game over West Virginia, coached by Fred Schaus. Jerry West of West Virginia was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
As a junior, Rodgers led Cal to a 10–1 record and top-five ranking at the end of the regular season, with their only loss a 23–17 loss at No. 1 USC. In that game, Rodgers set a school record for consecutive completed passes with 26 and tied an NCAA record with 23 consecutive passes completed in one game. He set a Cal single-game record for passing completion percentage of 85.3. Rodgers holds the Cal career record for lowest percentage of passes intercepted at 1.95 percent. Rodgers’ performance set up the Golden Bears at first and goal with 1:47 remaining and a chance for the game-winning touchdown. On the first play of USC’s goal-line stand, Rodgers threw an incomplete pass. This was followed by a second-down sack by Manuel Wright. After a timeout and Rodgers’ incomplete pass on third down, USC stopped Cal’s run play to win the game. Rodgers commented that it was “frustrating that we couldn’t get the job done.” Overall, he finished the 2004 season with 2,566 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. His 66.1% pass completion percentage led the Pac-10.
After Texas was picked over Cal for a Rose Bowl berth, the fourth-ranked Bears were awarded a spot in the Holiday Bowl, which they lost to Texas Tech, 45–31. After the season, Rodgers decided to forgo his senior season to enter the 2005 NFL Draft.
Over the course of the school’s history, California has won team national titles in 13 men’s and 3 women’s sports and 107 team titles overall. Cal athletes have also competed in the Olympics for a host of different countries. Notable facilities used by the Bears include California Memorial Stadium (football) and Haas Pavilion (basketball and other indoor sports). Cal finished the 2010–11 athletic season with 1,219.50 points, earning third place in the Director’s Cup standings, the Golden Bears’ highest finish ever. Cal did not receive any points for its national championships in rugby and men’s crew because those sports are not governed by the NCAA. Cal finished 12th in the 2014-15 standings.
In 2014, Cal instituted a strict academic standard for an athlete’s admission to the university. By the 2017 academic year 80 percent of incoming student athletes were required to comply with the University of California general student requirement of having a 3.0 or higher high school grade point average.
College Sports Established
University of California, Berkeley
1973 – Present / NCAA Division 1
1915 – 1973 / University Division of the NCAA
2010 – Present / Big 12 Conference
1978 – 2010 / Pacific 10
1964 – 1978 / Pacific 8
1959 – 1964 / Athletic Association of Western Universities
1915 – 1959 / Pacific Coast Conference
Golden Bears – A successful tour through the nation’s Midwest and East by Cal’s track & field team in 1895 is credited with the inspiration of the university’s “Golden Bear” nickname. Since the grizzly bear is a symbol of the state of California, it was appropriate that the track team displayed a banner on their tour that featured a golden grizzly.
Men’s Basketball 1
Women’s Basketball 0
1937, 1923, 1922, 1921, 1920