Athletics Vision, Philosophy and Overview

Athletics Vision

The University of Chicago Department of Athletics and Recreation aims to enrich the life of the whole person. We are invested in competitive excellence as we challenge our student-athletes to develop into their best selves as athletes, teammates, students and ultimately, citizens of the world. As athletes they embody physical strength and learn the value of movement to incorporate healthy activity and habits into their lives.

Through sport we are committed to teaching how to work collaboratively to reach performance goals, how to embrace diversity of thought and culture, how to persevere through failure with resiliency, how to compete with integrity.

We strive to engage our community through fitness and recreation to encourage holistic and healthy living, to build confidence, and to confront challenges physically and mentally.


Athletics Philosophy

The University of Chicago Athletics, Recreation and Fitness program complements the institution's core educational mission, helping to enrich the lives of our students while contributing to a vibrant and diverse campus community that inspires excellence. Our work contributes to the holistic educational environment and strengthens community at the University. Academic and athletic excellences are compatible in a well-balanced environment that encourages student-athletes to thrive and achieve their full potential as whole people.


Athletics Mission

Enhance the educational experience of students through sport and provide fitness and recreational opportunities to all members of the UChicago community to promote and support healthy living.

Excellence – Education – Integrity – ALL IN!



The Athletics program at the University of Chicago sponsors 20 intercollegiate sports, with more than 500 participants and 330 contests taking place each year. It is an NCAA Division III institution, with a ranking of 15th nationally among 325 institutions in the 2016-17 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings. UChicago’s sports teams are known as the Maroons and the school’s mascot is the Phoenix, the mythical bird featured as part of the University’s shield.

In addition to the varsity sports program, the University of Chicago supports a wide range of extracurricular programs, including those that present significant opportunities for recreational and institutional participation. The University offers more than 75 intramural and sport clubs programs annually, and provides more than 20 free fitness classes each quarters, which are available to undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff members and members of the greater community. Athletics at the University of Chicago considers the breadth of recreational, fitness, and competitive sports options offered as an important component of the well being of our community members. 


The University Athletic Association

The University of Chicago is a charter member of the University Athletic Association, an NCAA Division III conference formed in 1986 as a bold statement of what college athletics can and should be — highly desirable and possible for a group of committed institutions to seek excellence in athletics while holding the student-athlete and the institution's academic mission as the center of focus.

The eight members of the UAA include Brandeis University, Carnegie Mellon University, Case Western Reserve University, Emory University, New York University, the University of Chicago, the University of Rochester, and Washington University in St. Louis.

With its membership in the UAA, UChicago offers its student-athletes the opportunity to compete against athletes and teams from among the top research institutions in the country, as well as travel opportunities comparable to those offered by members of major Division I conferences.

UChicago has played a major role in helping the UAA attain its goal of achieving the proper balance between athletics and academics.

In “Reclaiming the Game: College Sports and Education Values,” author William Bowen – president of the Mellon Foundation which sponsored the research for the book – posed the question, "How has the UAA managed to mount what is, by all signs, a successful intercollegiate program without paying the academic price that is so evident in other similar college athletics conferences?"

Bowen continued, "The active involvement of the University of Chicago, with its emphasis on core academic values, has without question been a help in achieving and maintaining this policy." 


Success on the Playing Field

In 2016-17, UChicago finished 15th in the nation among 325 NCAA Division III institutions in the final standings for the Learfield Directors' Cup, which recognizes the top overall athletic programs in the country. UChicago teams notched national top-25 finishes in women's soccer (NCAA Semifinals); women's tennis (NCAA Quarterfinals); women's swimming and diving (11th); men's swimming and diving (11th); men's tennis (NCAA Round of 16), men's soccer (NCAA Round of 16) and women's cross country (25th).

That same year, the Maroons also featured 37 All-Americans, 43 national qualifiers, 45 all-region selections, 4 UAA MVPs, 10 UAA Rookies of the Year and 134 All-UAA performers.


Athletes and Academic Excellence

The intercollegiate program at the University of Chicago directly supports the College’s commitment to excellence, and helps to produce scholar-athletes whose primary focus is on their academic achievements. The University of Chicago has a long history of outstanding student-athletes who have distinguished themselves in the classroom.

During the University of Chicago's early years as a member of the Big Ten Conference, the athletics program counted numerous distinguished scholar-athletes among its ranks, including 1910 Rhodes Scholar Edwin Hubble, a basketball player who later became a distinguished scientist for whom the Hubble Space Telescope is named.

UChicago has furthered that tradition in recent years as its student-athletes have continued to compile an extraordinary record of academic and athletic accomplishment, highlighted by four Rhodes Scholars since 1996, and 297 UAA All-Academic Recognition Award recipients in 2016-17.