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 12th nationally among 329 institutions in the 2017-18 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."
UChicago finished 12th in the nation among 329 NCAA Division III institutions in the final standings for the Learfield 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 seven Maroon teams and 34 individuals qualified for their respective NCAA postseasons. On the team side, UChicago reached the NCAA semifinals in three different sports. The Maroon women's soccer team played in the national championship game for the second time ever, finishing runner-up. The men's soccer team joined them at the NCAA semifinals for the second time in program history. Both soccer squads set new school records for wins and goals scored in a season.
Both tennis teams advanced deep into the postseason. The men achieved their third NCAA Final Four berth in the past four seasons, marking the second-best four-year run in UChicago history across all sports. The Maroon women reached the NCAA quarterfinals for the third-straight year.
Women's basketball caught fire during the season, winning 22-straight games and capturing an undefeated UAA title. The squad advanced to the NCAA second round. Volleyball made its seventh appearance in the NCAA Tournament in the past eight seasons.
UChicago also produced top 15 showings at NCAAs in men’s swimming and diving (12th), women’s swimming and diving (14th) and women’s cross country (14th).
Khia Kurtenbach provided an individual highlight by winning the NCAA national championship in women's cross country. She was the second UChicago woman to claim a national title in cross country, joining Rhaina Echols (1999).
Over the course of 2017-18, the Maroons featured 35 All-Americans, 36 all-region selections, 3 UAA MVPs, 6 UAA/MWC Rookies of the Year and 117 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 2017-18.