History of the Highlanders
The UC Riverside Highlanders represent the University of California, Riverside (UCR) in Riverside, California, in intercollegiate athletics. The Highlanders compete in NCAA Division I; they are members of the Big West Conference.
The athletic department fields fifteen teams, including men's and women's basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis, track and field, women's-only softball and volleyball, and men's-only baseball.
In 2020, the future of UCR's sports program was doubted, as the university's leadership was considering cutting the entire athletics department in response to the financial strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in May 2021, the university announced that it had decided against eliminating athletics and would continue sponsoring all Division I sports.
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 that could compete with the Bruins of UCLA and the Bears of Berkeley, while others wanted to go in a completely different direction, demonstrating the independence and uniqueness of the school.
A total of 67 nicknames were initially suggested by the student body. 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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