The Charlotte 49ers represent the NCAA Division I sports teams of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. A founding member of Conference USA (C-USA), Charlotte rejoined the conference in 2013 after spending eight years as a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference. Previously, Charlotte was a charter member of the Sun Belt Conference and was a member of the Metro Conference.
|University||University of North Carolina at Charlotte|
|Athletic director||Mike Hill|
|Location||Charlotte, North Carolina|
|Varsity teams||17 (9 men's, 8 women's)|
|Football stadium||Jerry Richardson Stadium|
|Basketball arena||Dale F. Halton Arena|
|Baseball stadium||Robert & Mariam Hayes Stadium|
|Soccer stadium||Transamerica Field|
|Mascot||Norm the Niner|
|Colors||Green and White|
Overview and history
The athletics department officially changed its name to simply Charlotte in 2000. The school's identity suffered from years of constant confusion before then. While UNCC and UNC Charlotte were the officially accepted athletic names, media outlets frequently used unofficial nicknames such as N.C.-Charlotte, N.C.-Char, North Carolina-Charlotte, UNC, UNC-C, UNCC at Charlotte, and others. When the name change was made official, Athletics Director Judy Rose summarized the sentiment that drove the name change:
- "We're proud to be members of the University of North Carolina university system. But, frankly, we are tired of being confused with other institutions or having our own identity misused and misconstrued. It's harder to make a name for yourself, when your name keeps getting confused. Not only will this logo simplify matters, but it gives the program an exciting new look that better captures our essence."
The official school name remains the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
The nickname "49ers" derives from the fact that the university's predecessor—Charlotte Center of the University of North Carolina (CCUNC – established in 1946) was saved from being shut down by the state in 1949 by Bonnie Cone, when the Charlotte Center became Charlotte College. Due to this "49er spirit" that Cone felt embodied the university, referring to the settlers that endured much hardships in traveling across the United States to seek fortune in the California Gold Rush, students of the fledgling UNC Charlotte chose "49ers" as the school's mascot. The fact that the University's Main Campus front entrance is located on North Carolina Highway 49 is pure coincidence.
Prior to the "49ers" moniker, the athletic teams were known as the "Owls" due to CCUNC's beginnings as a night school.
The primary athletics logo contains a miner's hand and pick-axe as a reference to the Gold Rush. The arm of the Miner forms a "C" representing Charlotte and 49ers inside the C. The new logos replaced the face of a grizzly old Miner and a "4-9-e-r-s" script logo.
Despite a popular and competitive Conference USA in which Charlotte enjoyed rivalries with the likes of Memphis, Louisville, Cincinnati, Marquette, and others, the collegiate sports landscape underwent a major restructuring in 2004–2005. C-USA took the most serious hit of any conference, losing many of its most successful members, including Charlotte.
After this dramatic reshuffle, Charlotte received an invitation to join the Atlantic 10 Conference, which it accepted. Since joining the A-10, Charlotte has experienced much success in nearly every category with the exception of the signature sport of men's basketball.
With football upgrades on the horizon, and an attempt to restore geographic rivalries, Charlotte returned to a revised Conference USA starting with the 2013–2014 academic season, except for football, where they joined in 2015, and was fully eligible in 2016.
A member of Conference USA, Charlotte currently sponsors teams in nine men's and eight women's NCAA sanctioned sports: Women's golf will be added in the 2017–18 school year.
|Men's sports||Women's sports|
|Tennis||Track and field†|
|Track and field†||Volleyball|
|† – Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor|
- First season: 1965
- Conference Championships (10)
- 1969, 1970, 1977, 1978, 1988, 1992, 1995, 1999, 2001, 2004
- NCAA Tournament Appearances (11)
- NIT Appearances (7)
- 1976 (Finals), 1989, 1994, 2000, 2006, 2008, 2013
- Retired Jerseys
The first football program developed in 1946 and lasted until 1948. In 2006 students and alumni began a push for football to return to the school. The Board of Trustees approved it in 2008, and with funding approved in 2010, the school fielded its first official varsity football program since 1948 in 2013. The team would go 5 and 6 in their first season under coach Brad Lambert.
- First season: 2013
- Conference Championships (0)
- Bowl Games (0)
- Retired Jerseys (0)
Track & Field
- The Track & Field team boasted the most decorated athlete in school history, Shareese Woods. While at UNC Charlotte (2003-2007) she became a four time All American, placing 4th at multiple NCAA Championships, and breaking 12 school records.
- She went on to compete internationally in the sprints and made numerous United States teams at the 2006 NACAC Under-23 Championships in Athletics, 2007 NACAC Championships, 2007 Pan American Games and 2008 IAAF World Indoor Championships, medaling at all of those competitions.
- Consensus #1 in the nation by three major polls: Golfweek, Golfstat, and Nike – Fall 2007 (First National Number 1 Ranking in any varsity sport for Charlotte)
- Conference Championships (6)
- 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
- NCAA Championship 3rd Place – 2007
- NCAA Championship 8th Place – 2008
- First Season: 1976
- Conference Championships (6)
- 1983, 1992, 1994, 1996, 2010, 2013
- Regular Season Championships (dating back to 2011)
- 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016
- NCAA Appearances (10)
- NCAA Men's College Cup 1996, 2011
- NCAA Men's Soccer Championship Game, 2011
- Overall Record since 2011
- 85-29-16 (W% of 71.5)
- Home Record since 2011
- 50-10-6 (W% of 80.3)
- Charlotte alumnus Jon Busch named MLS Top Goalkeeper
- First Season: 1994
- Conference Championships (7)
- 1997, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2016
- NCAA Appearances (4)
- 1998, 2002, 2007, 2008
- Women's 3-time defending Atlantic 10 Regular Season Champions
- Women's 2-time defending A-10 Tournament Champions
Charlotte has had its fair share of intense rivalries. In men's basketball, one of their most heated rivalries was with Conference USA rival Cincinnati, who was coached by Bob Huggins for most of this period. From 1995-96 to 2004-05, after which Charlotte and Cincinnati left C-USA, Charlotte managed to upset Cincinnati teams ranked #3, #8, #18, #20 in the country. In what became known as the Cincinnati Incident, a brawl broke out between Cincinnati and the Charlotte student section, when a Cincinnati player threw the basketball into the stands. This led to the creation of a 'buffer zone' being implemented behind the visiting team's bench. ESPN commentator Andy Katz provided this explanation on why Charlotte-Cincinnati was one of the juiciest rivalries in the country: "The games are hotly contested usually and the fans in Charlotte don't like Cincinnati. They get up for this game more than any other."
Charlotte's 29-year men's basketball rivalry with the Davidson Wildcats sees Mecklenburg County's only two Division I schools go head-to-head for the Hornet's Nest Trophy. Charlotte leads the series 26-11. Due to a scheduling conflict, the series was on hiatus until the 2010-11 season.
During Charlotte's move to the Atlantic 10, Charlotte has also had some newer non-conference rivals. Such as Tennessee Volunteers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Clemson Tigers and baseball rivals North Carolina Tar Heels, Wake Forest Demon Deacons and the Duke Blue Devils.
Athletic facilities at Charlotte have improved dramatically over the past decade. In 1996 men's basketball returned to campus full-time for the first time in nearly 20 years with the opening of Dale F. Halton Arena. A new outdoor sports facility, the Irwin Belk Track and Field Center, opened in 1999 and serves as the home to the 49ers track and field teams in addition to both men's and women's soccer. Tom & Lib Phillips Field, the baseball facility, underwent a $6 million overhaul that was completed in 2007; the facility was renamed Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium in honor of the renovation's benefactor and her late husband. The golf team's new practice facility at Rocky River Golf Club in Concord was completed in October 2006.
- The Official Stake Your Claim Brand Platform (PDF). Retrieved March 24, 2016.
- "Charlotte 49ers". charlotte49ers.cstv.com.
- "Why wait? Conferences discussing '04-05 shift". ESPN.com. 8 January 2004.
- Charlotte accepts A-10 expansion invitation
- McMurphy, Brett (1 May 2012). "Conference USA reloading by adding 6 schools". CBS Sports. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
- "(49er logo) Charlotte". UNC Charlotte. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
- "Women's Golf Added as 18th Sport; Holly Clark Named as Head Coach". Charlotte 49ers. November 11, 2015. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
- "Charlotte 49ers". charlotte49ers.cstv.com.
- "UC timid in big loss at UNCC". Retrieved 8 December 2013.
- "BASKETBALL: COLLEGE MEN; Undefeated Bearcats Are Upset Wildcats Prevail". New York Times. January 15, 1999. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
- "Charlotte Upsets No. 8 Cincinnati, 86-83". Archived from the original on November 23, 2007. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
- "49ers Topple #18/#17 Cincinnati, 91-90". Retrieved 8 December 2013.
- NinerOnline – The story of section 103 Archived January 8, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- "Katz: New rivalries". ESPN.com. 21 January 2005.
- 49ers game may be in doubt – again Archived December 2, 2008, at the Wayback Machine