In 2001: The UC Riverside Highlanders men’s soccer team wins their first Big West Conference championship.
In 2003: The men’s basketball team wins their first Big West Conference championship and participates in the NCAA Tournament.
In 2015: The UC Riverside Highlanders women’s basketball team wins their first Big West Conference championship and participates in the NCAA Tournament.
In 2017: The men’s soccer team wins their first Big West Conference championship and participates in the NCAA Tournament.
History of the Highlanders
Sports fans, it's time to get excited about the UC Riverside Highlanders! As one of the oldest collegiate teams in NCAA history, they have a long and storied past that will excite any fan. From their humble beginnings as an intramural team in 1950 through their first Division I tournament appearance in the 2019-2020 season, there are plenty of reasons why sports fans should be cheering on this incredible team.
The UCR Highlanders began playing basketball as part of California’s Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA). The early years saw them compete against other local schools, such as Cal Poly Pomona and San Diego State University, for conference championships. In 1960, UCR joined what was then known as the Pacific Coast Athletic Association (PCAA), which later became today’s Big West Conference. During this period, some very successful seasons occurred, with two NCAA Tournament appearances made by head coach Bill Mulligan between 1977 and 1979, respectively; both ended with losses to eventual champions Marquette University and Indiana State University, respectively.
During more recent times under head coach Dennis Cutts who took over from 2006-2011, the program experienced its most successful run since joining Division 1 competition, reaching three consecutive postseason tournaments: NIT 2008 & 2010, followed by CIT 2011. After Cutts' departure, several coaches have come through leading up until current Head Coach David Patrick, who led his squad into uncharted waters making a historic appearance at Madison Square Garden for an opening round game against Iowa State Cyclones during March Madness 2020 before losing 74–68. This marked UC Riverside's first-ever appearance at "The World's Most Famous Arena," along with its first-ever NCAA tournament berth after nearly 70 years of competing collegiately!
With so much success already achieved, it would seem safe to say that we can expect even greater things from our beloved Highlander Basketball Team in the future! So make sure you join us here at UC Riverside Sports Fans Blog, where we will keep you updated on all your favorite player's stats, recaps & highlights, plus upcoming game dates & times! Go Highlanders!!
College Sports Established
University of California, Riverside
2000 - Present / NCAA Division 1
1971 - 2000 / NCAA Division II
2001 - Present / Big West Conference
2000 / Independent
Highlanders - When UC Riverside opened in February 1954, it had classrooms, a new Physical Education Building, and a student body eager to inaugurate the new school. What it didn’t have, however, was a mascot.
The controversy raged throughout the opening weeks of that inaugural school year as different factions argued over what symbol should represent the newest UC school. Many wanted a bear symbol to compete with the Bruins of UCLA and the Bears of Berkeley. In contrast, others wanted to go in a completely different direction, demonstrating the independence and uniqueness of the school.
The student body initially suggested a total of 67 nicknames. The names ran the gamut, from the wild (Bearcats, Rams, Bisons, Badgers, Gorillas) to the uninspired (Rovers, Ramblers, Possums, Chihuahuas, Valencias). There were colorful names (Red Raiders, Golden Eagles, Bluejays, Golden Beavers, Orangemen), names befitting the area’s heritage and environment (Caballeros, Friars, Vaqueros, Rattlers, Scorpions, Pioneers), and names that were, frankly, just weird (Aphids, Rocks, Bondsmen).
An election in November 1954 saw none of the proposed six nicknames receive a majority. While “Cubs” was the most popular of the six, many rallied against it because it showed the campus as a “little brother” to schools like UCLA and Cal. A write-in campaign, led by the men’s basketball team, was begun for the name “Hylanders,” a name suggested by freshman Donna Lewis. The name was changed to its current spelling and won easily. In recognition of her contribution to the university, Lewis received a lifetime pass to all athletic events.
“Highlanders” fit the campus well for several reasons. The Box Springs Mountains, which stand behind the campus, were known as the Highlands. In addition, UCR is the highest-elevation campus in the UC System.
Men's Basketball 0
Women's Basketball 0
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