Nevada Wolf Pack

The Nevada Wolf Pack are the athletic teams that represent the University of Nevada, Reno. They are part of NCAA's Division I's Mountain West Conference.[2] It was founded on October 24, 1896 with football as the Sagebrushers in Elko, Nevada.

Nevada Wolf Pack
UniversityUniversity of Nevada, Reno
ConferenceMountain West Conference
NCAADivision I
Athletic directorDoug Knuth
LocationReno, Nevada
Varsity teams15
Football stadiumMackay Stadium
Basketball arenaLawlor Events Center
Baseball stadiumWilliam Peccole Park
Soccer stadiumMackay Stadium
MascotAlphie, Wolfie Jr. and Luna
NicknameWolf Pack
Fight songHail to our Sturdy Team
ColorsNavy Blue and Silver[1]



Nevada's athletic teams were originally known as the Sagebrushers, named after Nevada's state flower. In the 1921–1922 school year, a local writer described the school's athletic teams as a "pack of wolves" which turned into "Desert Wolves." That name stuck until 1923, the student body designated "Wolves" as the school's mascot.[3]

The Wolf Pack is always written as two words in the context of Nevada's sports teams.[3]

Conference affiliation history

From 1925 to 1939 and again from 1954 to 1968, Nevada was a member of a now defunct Northern California Athletic Conference. In 1969, Nevada joined the West Coast Conference, but remained independent in football.

Eventually, this arrangement proved unsatisfactory for Nevada, who by 1975 was the only public school left in the WCC. At the same time, Gonzaga, a charter but non-football member of the Big Sky Conference, was facing pressure from the conference to either leave or add football (which they had dropped in 1941), as they were the only non-football member of the conference (and only private school as well).

A deal was then worked out in which Gonzaga and Nevada would swap conference affiliations in 1979. Gonzaga joined the WCC where it remains to this day, while Nevada moved to the Big Sky. Both new affiliations were the best institutional fits at the time.

By the early 1990s, Nevada had become one of the better football teams in what is now the Football Championship Subdivision of NCAA Division I, advancing to the title game in 1990. Nevada decided to upgrade to FBS in 1992, which required them to leave the Big Sky, which did not accept non-football members at the time (this changed in 2014). Nevada found a home in the Big West Conference, where in-state rival UNLV had been playing since 1982 (they would leave in 1996).

By the late 1990s, the football side of Big West had been unstable due to membership changes, so in 2000, Nevada joined the Western Athletic Conference, where they would remain for 12 years. The WAC itself became unstable in the early 2010s, with the first move being made by Boise State, who moved to the Mountain West Conference in 2011. This influenced Nevada to move there as well, in 2012. As a result of that move, Nevada was once again with the conference rivals along with UNLV (who formed the MWC with 7 other former WAC schools in 1999).

Sports sponsored

Men's sports Women's sports
BasketballCross country
Cross countryGolf
TennisSwimming & diving
Track & field
† – Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor.


The baseball team plays at William Peccole Park and has made four appearances in the NCAA regionals, in 1994, 1997, 1999 and 2000. They have compiled a record of 5–8 in NCAA games, losing to Stanford in the finals of the Palo Alto Regional in 1999. Nevada finished the 1994 season ranked 19th in the country.[4]

Men's basketball

The Nevada Men's Basketball program first began in 1913. The program has won 19 conference championships and made seven appearances in the NCAA tournament.[5] The team's current coach is Steve Alford.

The men's basketball program has experience some success in recent years. In 2004, the Wolf Pack men's basketball team qualified for the NCAA tournament and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in school history, where they fell to Georgia Tech. The team earned a repeat trip in 2005 and beat Texas in the first round before falling to eventual national runner-up Illinois. The team returned for 2006 as a #5 seed but was upset in the first round by former Big Sky Conference rival Montana.[6] They began the 2006–07 season ranked #24.[7] The Pack's major star during this recent period of success was Nick Fazekas. In 2007, Nevada was ranked #9 in men's basketball, which is the highest ranking that Nevada has ever held.[6] Guards Ramon Sessions and Marcellus Kemp both flirted with leaving as juniors for the NBA draft, however Kemp decided to remain at Nevada while Sessions was drafted 56th overall in the 2007 NBA Draft.[8][9]


Jay Norvell is currently the head coach. He was previously the wide receivers coach at Arizona State University. Chris Ault, who in 2012 was one of two active coaches who were enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame as coaches (the other was John Gagliardi, who also retired after the 2012 season), spent a total of 28 seasons as head coach in three separate stints. Ault is credited with the creation of the Pistol Offense which he implemented at Nevada in 2005. Ault was also one of four Football Bowl Subdivision coaches active in 2012 with 200 career wins.[10]

The football team plays home games at Mackay Stadium. The modern Mackay Stadium replaced its predecessor and was completed in 1966 with a seating capacity of 7,500. The facility has been expanded several times in its history and now seats 30,000.[11]

The 2010 season saw Nevada at its best finishing the season ranked No. 11 in the AP and No. 13 in the BCS. The Pack celebrated their 500th win in school history with a 52–6 win over New Mexico State on November 20, 2010, at Mackay Stadium.[12] On November 26, 2010, the Nevada Wolf Pack upset Boise State in a historic win at Mackay Stadium. In one round of overtime and 2 missed field goals by the Broncos, one at the end of regulation and one in overtime, Nevada Wolf Pack freshman kicker Anthony Martinez kicked a field goal to put Nevada on top for a final of 34–31. The Wolf Pack's win ended Boise State's 24-game winning streak, then the longest winning streak in the nation. It was also the Wolf Pack's first victory against Boise State after losing 10 straight games to the Broncos.[13]

Men's cross country

On December 15, 2018, it was announced that the Men's cross country athletic team will be added.[14]

Men's golf

See footnote[15]

Men's tennis

See footnote[16]


Other notable successes have come in rifle shooting. The Nevada rifle team placed second in the 2004 NCAA Rifle team championship, losing to national champion Alaska Fairbanks. As of 2009, the rifle team has been to eight consecutive NCAA championships.

In June 2013, the Wolf Pack became a charter member of the Patriot Rifle Conference.

On December 15, 2018, it was announced that the rifle athletic team will be discontinued.[14][17]

Women's basketball

Nevada has played women's basketball since 1899, though records only go back to 1981. They have made Women's National Invitation Tournament appearances in 2007 and 2011. In 2018 they made it to the Semi Finals of the WBI.

Women's cross country

See footnote[18]

Women's golf

See footnote[19]

Women's soccer

The Nevada women's soccer team won its first WAC tournament title in 2006 and qualified for its first NCAA tournament since the program's inception in 2000. Nevada faced Fresno State in the championship match and after 110 minutes of scoreless play, the two teams went into a shootout where Nevada prevailed 4–2 in penalty kicks.[20]

The single home-game attendance record for the women's soccer team is 1,050 fans, as the Wolf Pack beat the Sacramento State Hornets 3–2 at the Moana Sports Complex in Reno on September 15, 2013.[21][22] The home-game attendance record at Mackay Stadium for the team is 1,007 fans on September 23, 2012, when the Wolf Pack lost 0–3 to the California Golden Bears.[23][24]


Since the program was reinstated in 2003, the softball team has qualified for the NCAA tournament three times (2006, 2008, 2009) and has compiled a record of 3–6 in tournament play. In 2006, Nevada won its first WAC tournament title as Jordan McPherson pitched all 41 innings for Nevada in the WAC tournament, without giving up a single earned run, while striking out 34 on the way to being named tournament MVP.[25]

The 2008 team finished the season ranked in both national Top 25 polls. The Wolf Pack was ranked No. 21 in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll and was No. 20 in the Softball Collegiate Top 25. Nevada went 44–18 and won the Western Athletic Conference regular season title.[26] That season, Noelle Micka became the first Nevada softball player to earn second team All American and Vanessa Briones was named WAC Player of the Year. She was the first Wolf Pack player to earn the honor.[27] The Wolf Pack received an at-large bid to the NCAA Regionals and advanced to the championship game of the Los Angeles Regional, where they lost 6–4 to UCLA.[28]

Women's swimming and diving

The swimming and diving team won the AIAWDivision II national title in 1979 and has won 10 conference championships since 1992. They won the Pacific Collegiate Swim Conference in 1992 followed by the Big West championship five years in a row from 1996 to 2000 and the WAC title in 2007, 2008 and 2009.[29] Nevada won the Mountain West Conference championship in 2016.

Nevada has produced 13 All-Americans and reached its highest national ranking in 2000 at #13. Eight Olympians (two coaches and six swimmers) have been associated with the program. Jian Li You has been with the university since 1996 and is one of the top diving coaches in the U.S., having been a member of the 1980 Chinese Olympic team and a coach for the U.S. Olympic Diving Team.[30]

Women's tennis

See footnote[31]

Women's track and field

See footnote[32]

Women's volleyball

The volleyball team has qualified for the NCAA tournament five times in its history, all coming from at-large selections. (1998, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005). Nevada produced the beach volleyball team known as Team Gorgeous (Michelle More and Suzanne Stonebarger).[33]

National Championships


Association Division Sport Year Event Individual(s) Score
NCAA N/A Boxing 1959 Welterweight Joe Bliss N/A
1960 Mills Lane
Division I Rifle 2002 Air rifle Ryan Tanoue 392
Skiing 1954 Downhill Pat Myers N/A
2001 15K Freestyle Katerina Hanusova Nash N/A
5K Classical
2002 15K Freestyle
Giant Slalom Tommi Viirret N/A
Swimming & Diving 1999 200-yard Butterfly Liu Limin 1:53.36
2000 100-meter Butterfly 57.97
200-meter Butterfly 2:06.04
2016 1-meter Diving Sharae Zheng 344.95
3-meter Diving 404.70
Men's Track & Field 1966 High Jump Otis Burrell 7-1
1990 Discus Kamy Keshmiri 207-1
1991 218-5
1992 220-0
1994 Decathlon Enoch Borozinski 7870
Division II Swimming & Diving 1983 200-meter Backstroke Robin Thein N/A
AIAW Division II Swimming & Diving 1979 50-meter Breaststroke Ann Belikow N/A
100-meter Breaststroke
200-meter Breaststroke


Association Division Sport Year
AIAW Division II Swimming & Diving 1979
ASCE N/A Concrete Canoe 2008
CCBC* N/A Boxing 1964
NCBA N/A Boxing 1976
NRA N/A Rifle 1956
  • Between the time the NCAA dropped collegiate boxing (1960) and the formation of the NCBA (1976), Nevada belonged to the California Collegiate Boxing Conference. [34]


The Wolf Pack's mascots are anthropomorphized wolves named Alphie, Wolfie Jr and Luna. Alphie took over the duties of cheering from his uncle, Wolfie, in 1999. In 2007, Alphie was joined by his younger brother, Wolfie Jr.[3] A girl mascot named Luna joined the team in 2013. Later due to a protest by Colin Kaepernick, another Mascot was renamed to Rainbow Wolfie in an effort to appease the alumnus, attract woke students and show solidarity with the Hawaii mascot. To this day, Nevada is one of the few universities that have more than one mascot.

Sports no longer sponsored

  • Men's Boxing - The NCAA stopped sponsoring collegiate boxing in 1960. The team continues to exist under the auspices of the National Collegiate Boxing Association.
  • Men's and Women's Skiing - The ski team was founded in 1936. Its NCAA affiliation ended in 2009 due to budget cuts.[35]
  • Men's and Women's Gymnastics
  • Men's Track & Field - Nevada's Track & Field team was disbanded in 1994. The Wolf Pack produced seventeen first-team All-Americans.[36]
  • Rifle


  1. "Approved Colors". University of Nevada, Reno. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
  2. O'Toole, Thomas (August 18, 2010). "Nevada, Fresno State accept offers to leave WAC and join Mountain West". USA Today. Retrieved March 7, 2011.
  3. "Nevada Traditions & History". Nevada Wolf Pack. Retrieved March 7, 2011.
  4. "1994 NCAA DIV I Final Baseball Poll". Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. Retrieved September 26, 2008.
  5. "NEVADA'S CHAMPIONSHIP TEAMS". Nevada Wolf Pack. Retrieved March 9, 2011.
  6. "Nevada in the NCAA Tournament". Nevada Wolf Pack. Retrieved March 9, 2011.
  7. "2007 NCAA Men's Basketball Rankings – Preseason (Nov. 6)". ESPN. Retrieved March 9, 2011.
  8. "Marcelus Kemp Draft 2008 Profile". National Basketball Association. Retrieved March 9, 2011.
  9. "2007 NBA Draft Board". National Basketball Association. Retrieved March 9, 2011.
  10. Sonner, Scott (October 10, 2009). "Ault wins No. 200, Nevada beats Louisiana Tech". Yahoo! Sports. Associated Press. Retrieved March 7, 2011.
  11. "Facilities: Mackay Stadium". Nevada Wolf Pack. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  12. "Defense Leads Pack To 52–6 Win Over NMSU". Nevada Wolf Pack. Retrieved March 7, 2011.
  13. "Two missed field goals doom Boise State as Nevada prevails in OT". ESPN. Associated Press. November 27, 2010. Retrieved March 7, 2011.
  14. "Nevada to add men's cross country". Reno Gazette Journal.
  15. "Men's Golf". Nevada Wolf Pack. CBS Interactive. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
  16. "Men's Tennis". Nevada Wolf Pack. CBS Interactive. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
  17. Krajewski, Jim. "End of an era: Nevada rifle team sending two to NCAA Championships". Reno Gazette Journal.
  18. "Cross Country". Nevada Wolf Pack. CBS Interactive. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
  19. "Women's Golf". Nevada Wolf Pack. CBS Interactive. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
  20. "Nevada Soccer Beats Fresno State in Penalty Kicks to Win the WAC Tournament, and Advances to the NCAA Tournament". Nevada Wolf Pack. Retrieved March 7, 2011.
  21. "Nevada defeats Sacramento State, 3–2". Nevada Wolf Pack. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  22. "Sacramento State vs Nevada (Sep 15, 2013)". Nevada Wolf Pack. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  23. "No. 15 California Defeats Nevada". Nevada Wolf Pack. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  24. "CAL vs Nevada (Sep 23, 2012)". Nevada Wolf Pack. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  25. "Pack Wins WAC Title". Nevada Wolf Pack. Retrieved March 7, 2011.
  26. "Micka Named All-American". Nevada Wolf Pack. Retrieved March 7, 2011.
  27. "2008 All-WAC Softball Team Announced". Western Athletic Conference. May 7, 2008. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
  28. "Softball Falls To UCLA". Nevada Wolf Pack. Retrieved March 7, 2011.
  29. "Pack Swimming & Diving Team Earns WAC Three-Peat". Nevada Wolf Pack. Retrieved March 7, 2011.
  30. "Two Decades Later, Jian Li You Still Coaching Champions at Nevada". Nevada Sagebrush.
  31. "Women's Tennis". Nevada Wolf Pack. CBS Interactive. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
  32. "Track & Field". Nevada Wolf Pack. CBS Interactive. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
  33. "Team Gorgeous". Men's Fitness.
  34. "It's That New College Try". Sports Illustrated.
  35. "Can Nevada Regain NCAA Affiliation?". Ski Racing Premium.
  36. "Which sports should the Wolf Pack add?". Reno Gazette-Journal.
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