Wichita State Shockers football

The Wichita State Shockers football team was the NCAA Division I football program of Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas. The Shockers fielded a team from 1897 to 1986.[2][3] They played their home games at Cessna Stadium and were members of the Missouri Valley Conference until the program was discontinued. The team was known as Fairmount from its first season in 1897 to 1925 and Wichita from 1926 through 1963.

Wichita State Shockers
First season1897
Last season1986
StadiumCessna Stadium
(Capacity: 31,500)
Field surfaceGrass
LocationWichita, Kansas
Past conferencesIndependent (1895–1923, 1927, 1940–1945, 1986)
Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (1924–1926)
Central Intercollegiate (1928–1939)
Missouri Valley (1945–1985)
All-time record37540247 (.484)
Bowl record03 (.000)
Conference titles14
ColorsBlack and Yellow[1]


First game

The first official football game played by Wichita State was in 1897, when they were known as Fairmount, under the coaching of T. H. Morrison. Fairmount defeated Wichita High School, now known as Wichita East, by a score of 12–4 in the only game played that year.[4]

1905 night game

In the 1905 season, the Coleman Company set up temporary gas-powered lighting for a night game against Cooper College (now called the Sterling Warriors). It was the first night football game played west of the Mississippi River.[5] Fairmount won the game 240.[6]

1905 "experimental" game

On December 25, 1905, Fairmount played a game against the Washburn Ichabods using a set of experimental rules. The game was officiated by then Washburn head coach John H. Outland.

The experiment was considered a failure. Outland commented, "It seems to me that the distance required in three downs would almost eliminate touchdowns, except through fakes or flukes."[7] The Los Angeles Times reported that there was much kicking and that the game was considered much safer than regular play, but that the new rule was not "conducive to the sport."[8]

In his history of the sport of football, David M. Nelson concluded that "the first forward passes were thrown at the end of the 1905 season in a game between Fairmount and Washburn colleges in Kansas."[9] According to Nelson, Washburn completed three passes, and Fairmount completed two.

Plane crash

On October 2, 1970, a plane crashed that was carrying about half of the football team on their way to play a game against Utah State University. 31 people were killed.[10] The game was canceled, and the Utah State football team held a memorial service at the stadium where the game was to have been played.[11]

Breaking the color barrier in college football coaching

When Willie Jeffries became Wichita State’s head coach in 1979, he became the first African-American head coach of a Division I-A football program. Former T. C. Williams High School football coach Herman Boone, whose hiring was featured in the film Remember the Titans, compared Jeffries’s hiring to that of Jackie Robinson signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers.[12]

Program discontinued

On December 2, 1986, Wichita State President Warren Armstrong announced that the university would no longer sponsor football due to the financial strain the program places on the university.[13] On May 16, 2009 the Wichita State University alumni association held an all football players reunion at Cessna Stadium.[14]

Potential program revivals

In 1992, a study was done on Cessna Stadium to comply with I-A football standards. It was shown that $24 million in improvements were needed.[15]

In 1997, the cost was cited at $11 million to restart the football program and three other women's sports.[16]

In 1998, an advisory committee at Wichita State recommended reinstating the football program at Wichita State after a 15-month study for $70,000.[17]

In 2006, Wichita Mayor Carlos Mayans proposed to use public funds to restart the football program at Wichita State. He would subsequently drop the plan weeks later.[18][19]

In 2012, an attempt was made to begin a club-level football team at Wichita State with hopes of eventually reviving the football program, though no official endorsement was given by the university.[20]

Wichita State's 2017 move to the American Athletic Conference leaves it as the only full member of the conference which does not play football. However, the American has 12 football-playing schools, as Navy is an associate member for football only. In 2020, the American will have 11 football-playing schools, after UConn leaves to become a full member of the Big East and independent in football.

Conference championships

Wichita State won fourteen conference titles.[21]

Conference Years
Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference 1908, 1911
Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference 1931, 1932, 1933, 1935, 1937, 1938, 1939
Missouri Valley Conference 1954, 1955, 1960, 1961, 1963
Total 14 Conference Championships

Record versus Missouri Valley Conference

The records below only includes games while a member of the conference and does not include games against teams listed below considered non-conference games.

North Texas State4–3–11–85–11–1
West Texas State4–43–37–7
New Mexico State1–3–12–53–8–1
Oklahoma State2–31–33–6
Southern Illinois4–00–15–1
Indiana State1–10–2–11–3–1
Illinois State2–01–13–1
Saint Louis1–02–0–13–0–1
Memphis State0–00–30–3

Bowl games

The Shockers played in three bowl games and had an 0–3 record.

Season Coach Bowl Opponent Result
1947Ralph GrahamRaisin BowlPacificL 14–26
1948Jim TrimbleCamellia BowlHardin–SimmonsL 12–49
1961Hank FoldbergSun BowlVillanovaL 9–17

Notable players

NCAA Records

  • Longest field goal (tied) – Joe Williams 67 yards vs Southern Illinois October 21, 1978

See also

  • Ackerman Island; some games were played between Fairmount College and Friends University in the 1920s at Ackerman Island in downtown Wichita.[22]


  1. Wichita State Athletics Brand Guide 2019 (PDF). August 2, 2019. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  2. "Wichita State drops football". Wichita, Kansas: The Rock Hill Herald. Associated Press. December 3, 1986. pp. Page 10A. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  3. "Wichita State suspends football program". The Evening News. December 3, 1986. pp. Page 2B. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  4. DeLassus, David (March 31, 2013). "Wichita State records by year (1897)".
  5. "FIRST LIGHT (1900 – 1929)". Coleman Company. Retrieved November 24, 2012.
  6. DeLassus, David. "Wichita State Yearly Results (1905)". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved April 4, 2011.
  7. "Ten Yard Rule a Failure" (PDF). New York Times. December 26, 1905.
  8. "New Football Rules Tested". Los Angeles Times. December 26, 1905.
  9. Nelson, David M. (1994). The Anatomy of a Game: Football, the Rules, and the Men Who Made the Game. University of Delaware Press. ISBN 0-87413-455-2., p. 128
  10. Zier, Patrick (November 20, 1974). "Four Years Ago . ." Lakeland Ledger. pp. Page 1B & 4B. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  11. "MEMORIAL '70 - Memorial '70 Home - Wichita State University". Webs.wichita.edu. Retrieved 2016-09-04.
  12. Long, Kolleen (Fall 2015). "No Regrets".
  13. Bates, Michael (December 3, 1986). "Wichita State gives up football, too expensive". Wichita, Kansas: Kentucky New Era. pp. Page 2C. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  14. "Shocker football players return to Cessna Stadium". Wichita State University. May 5, 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
  15. "Stadium Fix-up Costs Throw WSU Football Hopes For Loss". Wichita Eagle. November 17, 1992. pp. Page 1A. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  17. "WSU NEEDS TO DROP THE FOOTBALL ISSUE". Wichita Eagle. April 7, 1998. pp. Page 1C Living. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  18. "Mayor drops WSU football plan". The Topeka Capital-Journal. Associated Press. July 13, 2006. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  19. Caywood, Kurt (July 2, 2006). "Shocker football: A taxing question?". The Topeka Capital-Journal. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  20. "Not so fast: Football's return to campus no done deal - The Sunflower: Campus Life". The Sunflower. Retrieved 2016-09-04.
  21. "Wichita State Shockers Championships". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved March 31, 2013.
  22. "Wichita Photos". Wichita Photos. 1923-11-29. Retrieved 2016-09-04.
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