Evansville Purple Aces

The Evansville Purple Aces are the intercollegiate sports teams and players of the University of Evansville, located in Evansville, Indiana, United States. The Aces athletic program is a member of the Missouri Valley Conference[2] and competes at the NCAA's Division I level.[3] Evansville's mascot is Ace Purple, and the school colors are purple, white and orange.

Evansville Purple Aces
UniversityUniversity of Evansville
ConferenceMissouri Valley Conference
NCAADivision I
Athletic directorMark Spencer
LocationEvansville, Indiana
Varsity teams18
Basketball arenaFord Center
Baseball stadiumCharles H. Braun Stadium
Soccer stadiumArad McCutchan Stadium
MascotAce Purple
NicknamePurple Aces
ColorsPurple, White, and Orange[1]

Prior to joining Division I in 1977, the Aces were in the Division II men's basketball championship tournaments fifteen of twenty years and won the title in 1959, '60, '64, '65, and '71.[4]

Sports sponsored

Men's sports Women's sports
BasketballCross country
Cross countryGolf
Swimming and divingSwimming and diving
Track and fieldTrack and field
† – Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor

Moores Hill College moved to Evansville and became Evansville College in 1919. The athletics program was begun with the opening of the new campus.

A member of the Missouri Valley Conference, the University of Evansville sponsors teams in seven men's and nine women's NCAA sanctioned sports.


Five players from the Purple Aces baseball team have appeared in Major League Baseball: Andy Benes, Sal Fasano, Jamey Carroll, Kyle Freeland, and Rob Maurer.

Men's Basketball

The University of Evansville athletics department was built upon a foundation of success in men's basketball. In the early years of the men's basketball program the Purple Aces appeared in the NAIA national tournament. The Purple Aces appeared 4 times in the NAIA Tournament (1941, 1942, 1951, and 1955). The Purple Aces had a NAIA tournament record of 3-4. The furthest distance Evansville got in the NAIA tournaments was in third round (NAIA Quarterfinals) in 1951, only to lose to Regis University (Colo.) 70-68.[5]

Shortly after the 1955 season the Purple Aces would move up to the NCAA College Division, now called NCAA Division II. The Evansville Purple Aces won five national championships in the NCAA College Division: 1959, 1960, 1964, 1965 (29-0 record) and 1971. This ranks second all-time.

In 1977 UE began playing in NCAA Division I athletics. That same year on December 13, a chartered DC-3 carrying the entire UE basketball team crashed in a field near the Evansville Regional Airport en route to a game against Middle Tennessee State. Every member of the team and coaching staff on the plane was killed. Legendary Aces coach Arad McCutchan, had retired after the previous season and was not on the plane. McCutchan was the first NCAA College Division coach selected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.[6] One player was not able to attend the game and thus was not on the plane; not long after the plane crash, however, the player who was not on the plane was killed in a car accident along with his younger brother.

Tremendous community support brought back the basketball program the next year. Evansville was a charter member of the Midwest Collegiate Conference, now known as the Horizon League. The Aces won or shared the MCC regular season title in 1982, 1987, 1989, 1992, and 1993. They also won the conference tournament title in 1982, 1992, and 1993. The Aces are now a member of the Missouri Valley Conference, and won the 1999 regular season title.

The Purple Aces have made five trips to the NCAA Men's basketball tournament (1982, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1999)[7] two trips to the NIT (1998, 1994),[8] three trips to the CollegeInsider.com (CIT) tournament (2009, 2013, and Champions in 2015),[9] and two trips to the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) tournament (2011 and 2012).[10]

On November 12, 2019, the Evansville team took down the #1 ranked University of Kentucky basketball team in Rupp Arena, gaining national and global prestige for the upset.

Women's basketball

The University of Evansville women's basketball team (the Lady Aces) have made two trips to the NCAA basketball tournament (1999, 2009).[11]


The Purple Aces were a fully-funded NCAA Division I-AA (now FCS) program in the non-scholarship Pioneer Football League until 1997. They were champion of the Ohio Valley Conference in 1948 (with a 3–1 record in conference play, shared with Morehead State) and 1949 (with a 3–1–1 conference record). Talk existed since about 2007 about upgrading football again to a fully funded NCAA Division I team, but, after a year of investigation, the Board of Trustees voted against this in October 2012 as currently being too expensive.[12]

Season Bowl Opponent Result
1948Refrigerator BowlMissouri ValleyW 13–7
1949Refrigerator BowlHillsdaleW 22–7
1974College Division CupCentral College (Iowa)L 16–17

See also


  1. "Brand Colors - Marketing and Communications". April 12, 2019. Retrieved June 2, 2019.
  2. "This is the Missouri Valley Conference". Missouri Valley Conference. Archived from the original on September 15, 2015. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
  3. "University of Evansville". NCAA. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
  4. "Men's Basketball Championship History". NCAA. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
  5. NAIA Championship History Archived March 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  6. "NCAA.com – The Official Website of NCAA Championships". NCAA.com. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  7. NCAA Basketball History
  8. "NIT Tournament Home". NCAA.com. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  9. "Postseason Tournament". CollegeInsider.com. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
  10. "College Basketball Invitational". Gazelle Group, Inc. Archived from the original on May 11, 2015. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
  11. NCAA Women's Basketball History
  12. "University of Evansville officially says no to football". Evansville Courier & Press. October 23, 2012. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
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