Grand Canyon Antelopes
The Grand Canyon Antelopes (more commonly referred to as the Lopes) are the 21 athletic teams representing Grand Canyon University, located in Phoenix, Arizona. Most of the university's athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division I level in the Western Athletic Conference. GCU is the only For-profit college that competes in NCAA D1 athletics. Men's volleyball competes in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) effective beginning in the 2017-18 academic year. The beach volleyball program competes as an independent.
|Grand Canyon Antelopes|
|University||Grand Canyon University|
|Athletic director||Mike Vaught|
|Basketball arena||GCU Arena (7,000)|
|Baseball stadium||Brazell Stadium (1,500)|
|Soccer stadium||GCU Stadium (6,000)|
|Other arenas||Antelope Gymnasium (2,000)|
|Mascot||Thunder the Antelope|
|Colors||Purple, Black, and White|
GCU was a member of the NAIA until the early 1990s when it transferred to NCAA Division II, in which it competed until 2013.
The university has undergone a transition from a small struggling non-profit liberal arts college to a large modern non-profit private university. Along with the general campus upgrades has come an increase in athletics and athletic facilities.
On November 27, 2012, Grand Canyon University announced that it had accepted an invitation to join Division I's Western Athletic Conference, effective July 1, 2013. This move made Grand Canyon the only for-profit institution with a Division I athletic program.
GCU's business model was at the center of an emerging controversy in college sports. In July 2013, the chief executives of all 12 members of the Pac-12 Conference sent a joint letter to the NCAA asking that the organization review whether for-profit institutions have a place in Division I sports. Later that year, Arizona State University issued a separate statement questioning the school's allegiance to the NCAA's business model. GCU CEO Brian Mueller accused ASU president Michael Crow of being behind the Pac-12 letter. Crow would later double down on his accusations, falsely claiming in 2017 that 11 of the 12 Pac-12 schools would not play GCU because of its for-profit business model, and also asserting that GCU sought to play Pac-12 schools solely for exposure on the Pac-12 Network. As of February 2018, ASU continues to refuse to schedule GCU in any sport; however, counter to Crow's 2017 assertion, 10 Pac-12 members have scheduled GCU in at least one sport since the Antelopes' move to Division I, although only Arizona and Utah had faced GCU in men's basketball.
The university announced a five-year sponsorship deal with Nike on May 27, 2015 as a part of Grand Canyon's athletic expansion.
Men's basketball is coached by Dan Majerle, former basketball player with the Phoenix Suns. GCU won three NAIA Men's Basketball Championships at the NAIA Division I level in 1975, 1978, and 1988. The 2007 PacWest Conference Championship and a berth in the 2007 NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Tournament. GCU has seen two Lopes basketball alumni go on to careers in the NBA, including: Horacio Llamas, the first Mexican-born player to play in an NBA game.; and Bayard Forrest, former basketball player with the Seattle SuperSonics and Phoenix Suns. Croatian national team player Emilio Kovačić played his first university basketball seasons in Grand Canyon, before leaving to Arizona State.
Women's basketball won the 2007 PacWest Conference Championship and a berth in the 2007 NCAA Women's Division II Basketball Tournament.
Men's golf is coached by Mark Mueller whose father is GCU president Brian Mueller.
Men's soccer won the 1996 NCAA Men's Division II Soccer Championship with a 3-1 win over Oakland University. Men's Soccer is now a member of the Western Athletic Conference, beginning 2013-2014 season.
Softball was added in 2003 and in 2010 the team made its first NCAA Tournament Appearance in the 2010 NCAA Division II Women's College World Series Tournament. 2010 also saw the Lopes set a new program record for most wins in a season going 42-11.
Women's tennis won the 1981 NAIA national women's tennis championship.
Men's track and field
NCAA men's lacrosse made a brief appearance as an official school sport at GCU from 2008-2011. The team began in 2008 and played the first lacrosse game in school history on February 10, 2008, an 8-18 loss to the University of Arizona (MCLA DI). In 2010 GCU and the few other NCAA DII lacrosse programs in the Southwest formed the Western Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association In the Lopes' only season as a member of the WILA, the team recorded a 3-5 conference record. After a number of below .500 seasons combined with increasing travel costs due to lack of NCAA Division II competition in the university announced in March 2011 it would end Division II lacrosse competition. Shortly after the university announced the program will compete at the varsity-club level in the Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association. The program joined the Southwestern Lacrosse Conference (SLC) and plays in the MCLA Division I level in the SLC's Pacific Division. In 2015 and 2017, GCU won the MCLA Division 1 National Championship.
Men's rugby was approved for addition to the GCU club sports lineup in 2013. Although it is officially a club sport, the team is under the auspices of the Athletic Department, and has access to Athletic Department facilities and support personnel. The team began competing in the 2014–2015 academic year. Former University of Arizona collegiate All-American Ryan Kelly is the head coach, and rugby sevens specialist Merrick Firestone is the associate head coach.
GCU Rugby has undertaken a significant recruiting effort, bringing in a large initial recruiting class for the Fall 2014 semester that includes many experienced high school rugby players from across the country, including several High School Rugby All-American invitees. GCU Rugby anticipates hosting a Fall 7s tournament on the GCU campus in September, 2014.
Men's ice hockey began in 2016 at the ACHA DII and DIII levels until 2019 when they got accepted for the DI level. Women's ice hockey began in 2017 and is currently a member of the WWCHL and competes in DI of the ACHA.
Grand Canyon University has several athletic facilities where its 21 NCAA athletic programs host home games.
GCU Arena is host to the school's men's and women's basketball teams in addition to women's volleyball. The venue opened in 2011 as a 5,000-seat venue before being expanded to increase capacity to 7,000 seats in 2014.
The baseball team plays home games at Brazell Field at GCU Ballpark, where a brand new stadium was built to surround the existing field in 2018. The stadium is named after Grand Canyon's longtime baseball coach Dr. Dave Brazell. The softball team hosts its home games at GCU Softball Stadium which also opened in 2018.
GCU Stadium is home to the men's and women's soccer programs. The facility opened in 2016 and can hold in excess of 6,000 fans. GCU ranked in the top 10 in both 2016 and 2018 in average attendance for its men's soccer games.
Antelope Gymnasium, which used to house GCU's indoor sports, has served as a secondary indoor facility since 2011 after the opening of GCU Arena. Antelope Gymnasium is the full time venue for the men's volleyball team.