Texas–Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros

The Texas–Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros (often referred to as the Rio Grande Vaqueros or the UTRGV Vaqueros) is a collegiate athletic program that represents the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV).[2] The Vaqueros inherited the NCAA Division I status of the Texas–Pan American Broncs and compete in the Western Athletic Conference.[3]

Texas–Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros
UniversityUniversity of Texas Rio Grande Valley
ConferenceWestern Athletic Conference
NCAADivision I
Athletic directorChris King
LocationRio Grande Valley, Texas
Basketball arenaUTRGV Fieldhouse
Baseball stadiumEdinburg Stadium
ColorsKelly Green, Navy Blue, and Orange[1]


A member of the Western Athletic Conference, UTRGV sponsors teams in eight men's and eight women's NCAA sanctioned sports:[4]

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

Program history

Men's basketball

UTPA, then Pan American College, won the 1963 NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament under Coach Sam Williams. Lucious Jackson a/k/a Luscious "Luke" Jackson was one of the players on that championship team. Jackson was selected 4th overall during the 1964 NBA draft. He was selected to the 1964–65 NBA All-Rookie Team and played in the NBA All-Star Game that same year. He played his entire career with the Philadelphia 76ers.

The basketball program, during the mid-1970s was coached by Abe Lemons. Under Lemons, the program had very successful seasons but, lamentably, failed to get invited to any NCAA tournaments. Coach Lemons was later hired away by the University of Texas at Austin.

Upon Lemons' departure to the University of Texas at Austin, Bill White was named the head basketball coach. While at Pan American, Coach White led the Broncs to their first post-season tournament play at the Division I level. During the 1980–81 season, Pan American earned a berth to the 1981 National Invitation Tournament. The Broncs lost to the 1981 NIT champs, the University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane.

The basketball program was also later coached by Lon Kruger, who later went on to coach at Kansas State, Florida, Illinois, UNLV, and Oklahoma. He also coached the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA.

Women's basketball

The Vaqueros began play for women's basketball in 1982. Their 10-5 record in NAIA play was their only winning season until 2014, when they finished 19-15 in their final season as the Broncs. They finished their season in the WAC title game, though they lost to New Mexico State 70-52. They were invited to the WBI, their first ever postseason appearance in school history. They lost to Louisiana-Lafayette 78-56 in the first round. The next year, they finished 18-13, marking the first time in program history that they had consecutive winning seasons. Though they lost in the WAC title game to New Mexico State again, they were invited to the WBI, where they lost to TCU 97-73.


On November 19, 2016, the UTRGV Women's Volleyball Team defeated the Utah Valley Woman's Volleyball team, making them the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Volleyball Champions of 2016.[5]


The UTPA baseball squad placed 4th in the 1971 College World Series under Coach Al Ogletree.


The UTPA Tennis program won several NAIA championships (doubles and singles) from 1959 through 1962 under Coach Don Russell, who himself captured several championships while playing and coaching the team. Other prominent Bronc champions included John Sharpe and George Kon, with Sharpe and Russell winning three consecutive doubles titles together from 1959 to 1961.

Conference History

After becoming a four-year college in 1952, the Broncs were members of the NAIA until the 1962-63 season. The Broncs were an independent in the first year of NAIA membership. From the 1953-54 season to the 1961-62 season, the teams were members of the Big State Conference. In 1962-63, the team had a dual membership in the NAIA and NCAA Division II. The Broncs began transitioning to NCAA Division I in 1965-66 with the tennis team. The men's basketball began its transition in 1968-69. Broncs men's basketball participated as an Independent until the 1979-80 season when the team was a member of the Trans-America Athletic Conference and returned to independent status until 1986-87. UTPA joined the American South Conference as a charter member in 1987 and remained a member until the American South Conference merged with the Sun Belt Conference in 1991. The Broncs left the Sun Belt Conference at the end of the 1997-98 season and returned to independent status.

In 2008 it was announced that the Broncs would be charter members of the previously football-only Great West Conference when it began all-sports play in 2008. During the fall of 2008, the UTPA Cross Country team was the first to win a Great West Conference team title. UTPA exited Great West Conference after the 2012–2013 season.

The UTPA Broncs were one of the newest members of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). Men's soccer returned to the athletic program in 2015, and women's soccer started in 2014.


  1. "UTRGV Trademark Licensing". Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  2. "UT System Board of Regents Approves Images for the UTRGV Vaqueros". UTRGV. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  3. "NCAA Division I Athletes". University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  4. "The Official Athletics Website of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley". University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  5. "2016 WAC Volleyball". www.wacsports.com. Retrieved 2017-10-18.
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