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University of Chicago Department of Athletics & Recreation

Athletics Overview

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 ninth nationally among 450 institutions in the 2018-19 Learfield IMG College 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." 


2018-19 Recap

UChicago finished ninth in the nation among 340 NCAA Division III institutions in the final standings for the Learfield IMG College Directors’ Cup - the top placing in school history. The Learfield Directors' Cup is a joint effort between the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and USA Today. The points system is based on each institution's postseason finish in up to 18 sports (nine women's and nine men's).

A total of eight Maroon teams and 55 individuals qualified for their respective NCAA postseasons. On the team side, UChicago reached the NCAA semifinals in two different sports. The men's soccer team appeared in the NCAA Final Four for the third time in program history and second year in-a-row. Both tennis teams advanced deep into the postseason. The men achieved their fourth NCAA Final Four berth in the past five seasons, marking the second-best four-year run in UChicago history across all sports. The Maroon women advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals for the fourth-straight year.

Women's basketball qualified for the NCAA tournament for the third-straight year while the women's soccer squad did the same for the sixth season in-a-row. Volleyball made its eighth appearance in the NCAA postseason in the past nine seasons.

UChicago also produced top 15 showings at NCAAs in women’s swimming and diving (6th), men’s swimming and diving (8th) women’s cross country (11th) and men's cross country (12th).

Isabel Maletich and Byrne Litschgi provided individual highlights by winning NCAA national championships. Maletich triumphed in the indoor long jump and Litschgi topped the field in the 200-yard backstroke.

Over the course of 2018-19, the Maroons featured 52 All-Americans, 48 all-region selections, 3 conference MVPs, 4 UAA/CCIW Rookies of the Year and 139 all-conference performers.


Athletes and Academic Excellence

At the University of Chicago, the ideal of the well-rounded student-athlete is consistent with the highest levels of athletics and academic success. Throughout the University's history, its student-athletes and teams have met that unique challenge, demonstrating that academic and athletic excellence can complement each other.

Our athletes are scholars who focus on academics while excelling beyond the classroom walls. Through their participation in athletics, students have the opportunities to build community, develop core interpersonal and communications skills, improve their analytical and strategic thinking, and engage with others to build humility and confidence.

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 373 All-Academic recipients in 2018-19.