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The UC Santa Barbara Gauchos are the athletic teams that represent the University of California, Santa Barbara. Most of UC Santa Barbara's teams compete in the Big West Conference, but Men's Water Polo, Men's Volleyball, and Men's and Women's Swimming compete in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.

UC Santa Barbara Gauchos
University University of California, Santa Barbara
Conference Big West Conference (16 teams)
Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (3 teams)
NCAA Division I
Athletic director John McCutcheon
Location Santa Barbara, California
Varsity teams 20
Basketball arena UC Santa Barbara Events Center
Baseball stadium Caesar Uyesaka Stadium
Soccer stadium Harder Stadium
Natatorium Campus Pool
Other arenas Robertson Gymnasium
Mascot Olé (official)
Fantom of the 'Dome (unofficial)
Gaucho Joe (unofficial)
Nickname Gauchos
Fight song "Big 'C'" (official)
"Gaucho" (unofficial)
Colors Blue and Gold[1]

UCSB has won three NCAA National Championships for 1979 Men's Water Polo, 2006 Men's Soccer and 1962 Men's Swimming and Diving (Div. II).


Overview of UCSB AthleticsEdit

The mascot of UCSB is the Gaucho (named after Douglas Fairbanks' role in the eponymous film The Gaucho[2]), while the school colors are "Pacific Blue" (Pantone 286) and "Gaucho Gold" (Pantone 130), with the occasional accent of "Navy Blue" (Pantone 275).[3] In 2009, the program under athletic director Mark Massari underwent a transformation, giving UCSB a new brand and visual identity.[3] As a result, the UCSB athletic program released new logos, different colors, and a unified theme across all teams.[3] For athletic purposes, the school is known only as "UC Santa Barbara" or "UCSB".

UCSB currently fields a varsity team in 10 men's sports and 10 women's sports:[4]

Men's sports

  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Cross country
  • Golf
  • Soccer
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Track, Outdoor
  • Volleyball
  • Water polo

Women's sports

  • Basketball
  • Cross country
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Track, Indoor
  • Track, Outdoor
  • Volleyball
  • Water polo

Selected varsity programsEdit

2006 NCAA soccer champions visit President George W. Bush at the White House.

Men's soccerEdit

In 2004, the UCSB men's soccer team advanced to the College Cup. It routed Duke in the semifinals 5-0, but lost in the championship match to Indiana on penalties

In 2006, UCSB again advanced to the College Cup. In the semi-finals, UCSB and 2nd seed Wake Forest played to a 0-0 tie before UCSB won the game on penalty kicks 4-3. In the championship game, UCSB defeated UCLA 2-1[5] to win its first NCAA Men's Soccer title and its second NCAA championship (1979 Men's Water Polo) in school history.[6]

In conference play, the Gauchos have dominated Big West competition. They have won the Big West Championship in 5 of the last 7 years. Also, the Gauchos have had no less than 5 former players receive full international caps.

The Gauchos have led the NCAA in attendance each year from 2007 to 2012, and averaged 5,873 fans during their 2010 home matches.[7][8] The Gauchos Sep. 24, 2010 match against UCLA drew 15,896 fans, the highest attendance for an NCAA soccer match since the year 2000.[9]


Potentially one of the oldest teams the Gauchos field, baseball can date back to at least 1923. They've appeared in 9 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship. Numerous Major League Baseball players have come through the ranks including Michael Young, Barry Zito, Larry Dierker, and Skip Schumaker.


Both the UCSB men and women's basketball teams play at the UCSB Events Center, commonly known as the Thunderdome.

In 2005, UCSB Women's Basketball won its unprecedented ninth straight Big West Conference Championship. The team had its best year in history during the 2004 season when it advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 where it lost to eventual champion UConn. UCSB was the only team to hold UConn to less than a double-digit victory in the NCAA playoffs. From 2000 to 2005, Tasha McDowell served as an assistant coach.

In the 2012 Big West Tournament, the UCSB women's basketball team became the first 6th seed to win the tournament. In the first round, the team traveled to UC Irvine and defeated the 3rd seeded Anteaters 61-51.[10] The Gauchos continued on their playoff march against the Pacific Tigers in the semifinals hosted at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA. Pacific swept UCSB in the regular season, but the Gauchos were victorious when it mattered the most as they bounced the Tigers out of the tournament with an overwhelming 84-66 decision.[11] The 84-point output currently stands as the most points the Gauchos have scored under head coach Carlene Mitchell. After defeating the number 3 seed and number 5 seed, the Gauchos ended up being the higher ranked team in the championship game as they were set to face Long Beach State who pulled off two miraculous upsets of their own as the 7 seed. The Gauchos went on to capture its record 14th Big West crown with a 63-54 final tally.[12] Gaucho center Kirsten Tilleman had a double-double (16 points and 11 rebounds) against the 49ers, which earned her the tournament MVP honors.[13] She was also included on the All-Tournament team roster along with her teammate sophomore guard Melissa Zornig, who averaged 16.7 points per game in the tournament. The 2011-2012 Gauchos' season ended in the first round of the NCAA Tournament where they fell 81-40 against the eventual national champion Baylor.[14]

UCSB Men's Basketball had its best years in the late '80s and early '90s under coach Jerry Pimm, highlighted by a 77-70 victory over then #2 and eventual National Champion UNLV in 1990, and NCAA tournament appearances in 1988 (lost to Maryland) and 1990 (defeated Houston 70-66 and lost to Michigan State 62-58). The Gauchos returned to the NCAA tournament in 2002 where they nearly upset powerhouse Arizona in the opening round. Over the years, a few of Pimm's assistants at UCSB have gone on to coach other major programs around the country, including Ben Howland (1982–1994) of UCLA and Jamie Dixon of Pittsburgh.

In the 2009-10 season, UCSB Men's Basketball was the regular season champion and final tournament champion in the Big West Conference, defeating Long Beach State. It won an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament and played 2nd seed Ohio State, losing to the Buckeyes. In 2010-2011, they placed fifth in the regular season. They defeated Long Beach State in the tournament final for the second year in a row. The Gauchos were the lowest seed to win the Big West Tournament since sixth-seeded San Jose State toppled Utah State in 1996. They played the 2nd seeded Florida Gators and lost. It was the first time that UCSB entered an NCAA Tournament in back-to-back seasons.

Some famous Gauchos basketball players are Brian Shaw, Conner Henry, Carrick DeHart, Eric McArthur, Chris Devine, Alex Harris, Cecil Brown, Raymond Tutt, Lucius Davis, Doug Muse, Branduinn Fullove, Mark Hull, Nick Jones, Don Ford, Ray Kelly, James Nunnally, and Orlando Johnson who currently plays for the Indiana Pacers of the NBA. On the women's side, Kristen Mann currently plays in the WNBA and Mekia Valentine was drafted by the New York Liberty in the 2011 WNBA Draft.


Based out of Campus Pool on the UCSB campus, the swimming program has seen its fair share of success. For 40 seasons Gregg Wilson was the head coach of the men's and women's swimming teams. Wilson posted a dual meet record of 292-208-1 (172-115 with the men, 120-92-1 with the women). Even more impressive, his squads have collected 36 Big West Conference Championships, 23 by his men’s teams and 13 by his women’s teams. Before the Texas Longhorns men's swim team broke it, the UCSB men's swim team set the NCAA record for most consecutive conference titles in any sport with 23 straight Big West Conference championships from 1979-2001. The men’s teams have been ranked as high as 16th nationally and several of his swimmers over the years have advanced to the NCAA Championships. In fact, the men’s team has turned in 38 All-American performances under Wilson.

The team is now led by Coach Matt Macedo, taking the helm in September 2016, winning Men's Mountain Pacific Sports Federation coach of the year en route to a conference team championship in his first year.

Notable alumni of the program include Olympic gold medalists Richard Schroeder, Jason Lezak, Sandy Neilson, Sophie Kamoun, former 50-meter freestyle world record holder Bruce Stahl (the first person to ever hold this world record), and Pat Cary.

Men's water poloEdit

UC Santa Barbara won the 1979 National Championship in men's water polo, defeating the UCLA Bruins by a score of 11–3.[15] This was UCSB's first ever NCAA Division I championship.[16] The program has produced a number of notable players including Craig Wilson, Greg Boyer, John Anderson, Brian Alexander, and Ross Sinclair, who have won multiple Olympic medals between the group. The current head coach is three-time Olympian and former United States men's national water polo team captain Wolf Wigo, who also oversees the UCSB women's water polo program.


The men's volleyball team has finished as the NCAA runner up 5 times, most recently in 2011. The women's volleyball team plays at the UCSB Events Center, while the men's team plays at Robertson Gymnasium.

Notable club sportsEdit

Athletics at UCSB is not limited to the Intercollegiate Athletic Department. While there are 450 students-athletes in ICA,[17] there are over 700 in Club (Recreational) sports teams including: Alpine Racing, Cycling, Fencing, Field Hockey, Lacrosse, Rugby, Sailing, Soccer, Triathlon, Ultimate, Water Ski, and Rowing. Many of these teams are highly regarded and compete against Intercollegiate teams from across the United States. The Women's Water Polo team captured two Collegiate Club titles, in 1987 and 1989. The Rowing Team is the current National Champion for the second consecutive year (American Collegiate Rowing Association) and Women's Team point Champion (2015).


The Black Tide (men's team) and the Burning Skirts (women's team) are consistently top teams in the nation. With a reputation for intense play and competitive attitudes, they are regulars at the nation's most elite tournaments. Black Tide has won six national championships ('88, '89, '90, '96, '97, '98). Burning Skirts have won five national championships ('88, '90, '91, '09, '11).


Started in 1969 by Rob Almy and Rick Stanley, the men's lacrosse team is consistently one of the top club teams in the nation. UCSB competes in the Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA) which includes national sports powerhouses such as Colorado State, BYU, Virginia Tech, Florida, FSU, Texas, Michigan State, Kansas, and all Pac-12 schools. Missing the national tournament only twice since its inception in 1997, UCSB has the third most national championship game appearances ('97, '03, '04, '05) and fourth most national championships ('04, '05). UCSB has also been very successful in the Western Collegiate Lacrosse League (WCLL). The Gauchos have the second most championships ('80, '83, '84, '87, '03, '04, '05, '07) behind Whittier (NCAA DIII). In 2008, the WCLL split into two conferences and UCSB joined the Southwestern Lacrosse Conference (SLC) in 2008.


Rowing has produced over a dozen National Team members including nine-time US National Rowing Team member Amy Fuller, winner of several Olympic and World Championship medals who currently serves as the head coach of the UCLA Bruins rowing program.


The Gauchos play college rugby in Division 1-A in the California conference against traditional rivals such as Cal Poly. The Gauchos previously played in Division 1-AA, where they were consistently one of the better teams in the Division. In the 2010-2011 season, the Gauchos were undefeated in regular season play, and finished second in Division 1-AA, notching playoff wins against Stanford and Oregon State.[18][19] The Gauchos were promoted to Division 1-A following the 2011-12 season. The Gauchos have produced several top rugby players, such as Bill Leversee, who has played for the U.S. national team.[20]


UCSB's 12-time national championship surf team holds more trophies than any other surf team in the nation. Its last national championship was led by captain Colin Andersen in 2010 at the National Scholastic Surfing Association Nationals.


UCSB began playing intercollegiate football in 1921, playing as the "Roadrunners" on a field at Pershing Park. Theodore "Spud" Harder became coach in 1934; at his suggestion, the school adopted a new name in 1936, selecting "Gauchos" in a student vote. The 1936 team finished with a 9-1 record, the best in school history, and two of its members later played for the NFL New York Giants. La Playa Stadium, now used by Santa Barbara City College, opened in 1938 and was the team's home until 1966, when Harder Stadium was built. "Cactus Jack" Curtice, who had been head coach at a number of major college programs, coached the team from 1963 to 1969: his 1965 team finished 8-1 and went to the Camellia Bowl. Under Curtice's successor, Andy Everest, the college decided to launch an NCAA Division I program, but after two seasons of dismal on-field performance and a lack of student support, the college changed directions and decided to drop the sport entirely. The Gauchos appeared in four bowl games during these 50 years, winning only once, in the 1948 Potato Bowl.[21][22]

A student-run club team started play in 1983, and in 1985 a student referendum approved funding for a Division III, non-scholarship team. The team began play in 1987 and enjoyed some success on the field,[22] with a 33-15 record from 1987 to 1991. However, in 1992 the NCAA decided to forbid schools playing in Division I in other sports from maintaining a lower level football program, and UCSB dropped the sport again.[21]

The Blue-Green rivalryEdit

The main rival of UC Santa Barbara is the Cal Poly Mustangs who compete together in the Blue–Green Rivalry. The Blue-Green Rivalry, which started in November 1921 with a football game, was formalized in 2009. This new format calculates earned points between UCSB and Cal Poly to determine a winner based on their teams' competitive results against each other.[23] Additionally, ranked UC Santa Barbara vs. Cal Poly as the Greatest Rivalry in College Soccer.[24]

Notable alumniEdit


  1. ^ "UCSB Color". Retrieved March 30, 2016. 
  2. ^ "Nickname "Gauchos"". Retrieved November 14, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c "UCSB Unveils New Logos". August 19, 2009. Archived from the original on September 28, 2009. Retrieved January 5, 2016.  External link in |website= (help)
  4. ^ "UC Santa Barbara Athletics". UC Santa Barbara Gauchos. Retrieved September 11, 2014. 
  5. ^ "NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!!!". UC Santa Barbara Athletics. 3 December 2006. Retrieved 21 September 2009. 
  6. ^ "Gauchos Complete Amazing Run to Earn Program's First NCAA National Championship, Defeat UCLA 2-1". UC Santa Barbara Athletics. 3 December 2006. Retrieved 21 September 2009. 
  7. ^ NCAA Soccer, Men's Attendance Records, Annual Home Attendance Champions,
  8. ^, UCSB Leads National Soccer Attendance for Sixth Year, Jan. 15, 2013,
  9. ^ NCAA Soccer, Men's Attendance Records, All-Time Largest Crowds,
  10. ^ "Gauchos Knock off UC Irvine in Big West Tournament's First Round: Santa Barbara Athletics". 2012-03-06. Retrieved 2015-10-14. 
  11. ^ "Complete Game Effort Sends Gauchos to Big West Tournament Title Game: Santa Barbara Athletics". 2012-03-09. Retrieved 2015-10-14. 
  12. ^ "BIG WEST CHAMPS!!!: Santa Barbara Athletics". 2012-03-10. Retrieved 2015-10-14. 
  13. ^ "Women's Basketball". 2012-10-03. Retrieved 2015-10-14. 
  14. ^ "No. 1 Baylor Too Much for Gauchos: Santa Barbara Athletics". 2012-03-18. Retrieved 2015-10-14. 
  15. ^ "Championship History". NCAA. Retrieved September 22, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Our Stories: The First National Championship". UC Santa Barbara Gauchos. November 30, 2012. Retrieved September 22, 2014. 
  17. ^ "UCSB Athletics Teams With Bridges of Hope International to Make Lasting Difference in South Africa". UC Santa Barbara Athletics. 21 September 2009. Retrieved 21 September 2009. 
  18. ^ Chaney, Jeff (May 14, 2011). "Davenport rugby team beats University of California-Santa Barbara for national title". The Grand Rapids Press. Retrieved September 13, 2011. 
  19. ^ Presidio Sports, Gaucho rugby team wins twice to reach Final Four, May 2, 2011,
  20. ^ Santa Barbara Independent, Honoring a Gaucho Rugby Star, April 19, 2009,
  21. ^ a b John Zant, "UCSB’s Forgotten Football History", Santa Barbara Independent, April 23, 2015.
  22. ^ a b Gordon Monson, "Gauchos Back in Saddle Again : UC Santa Barbara Strives to Corral Football Program Often Gone Astray", Los Angeles Times, November 7, 1987.
  23. ^ [1] Archived October 29, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  24. ^ "The Fourteen Greatest Rivalries In College Soccer". Retrieved January 5, 2016. 

External linksEdit