History of the Redbirds
The Illinois State Redbirds are the athletic teams that represent Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. Teams play at the NCAA Division I level (FCS in football). The football team competes in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, while most other teams compete in the Missouri Valley Conference. The fight song is Go, You Redbirds.
College Sports Established
Illinois State University
1973 - Present / NCAA Division 1
1921 - 1973 / University Division of the NCAA
1981 - Present / Missouri Valley Conference
1971 - 1980 / Independent
1909 - 1970 / Interstate Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
Redbirds - In 1923, athletics director Clifford E. "Pop" Horton and the Daily Pantagraph sports editor Fred Young collaborated to change the university's nickname from "Teachers." Horton wanted "Cardinals" because the colors were cardinal and white (set in 1895-69).
Young changed the nickname to "Red Birds" to avoid confusion in the headlines with the St. Louis Cardinals MLB baseball team. It took roughly 10 years for Red Birds to become one word. Since that time, Illinois State Athletics' fans have been enjoying the rich success that nearly all Redbird Athletics teams have enjoyed.
The history behind the story of how the Redbirds got their name was told by Horton in the mid-1970s. Here is his account of how the Redbirds were born:
"When I came here [Illinois State] in 1923, the ISU teams were known as the 'Teachers.' Since the school colors were cardinal and white, I thought it would be a good idea to call the team the 'Cardinals.' So I tried to introduce that new name. Fred Young was responsible for changing us from the Cardinals to the Redbirds. By calling our team Redbirds, it was easy to identify them with the University, so he gradually shifted to the Redbirds. I don't recall exactly when the shift took place, but we were known as the Cardinals for a very short period of time."
Men's Basketball 0
Women's Basketball 0
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