BYU Cougars

BYU Cougars
University Brigham Young University
Conference West Coast Conference
Mountain Pacific Sports Federation
NCAA Division I
Athletic director Tom Holmoe
Location Provo, Utah
Varsity teams 21
Football stadium LaVell Edwards Stadium
Basketball arena Marriott Center
Baseball stadium Larry H. Miller Field
Other arenas South Stadium
Smith Fieldhouse
Gail Miller Field
Mascot Cosmo the Cougar
Nickname Cougars
Fight song "The Cougar Song"
Colors Blue and White[1]

The BYU Cougars are the collegiate athletic teams that represent Brigham Young University (BYU), a major university in Provo, Utah. BYU fields 21 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) varsity athletic teams.[2] They are a member of the West Coast Conference for most sports. Other sports compete in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation[3] and as independents.[4] They were a member of the Mountain West Conference (MW) from its formation in 1999 until leaving in 2011 as part of a major NCAA conference realignment. Before the formation of the MW, the Cougars competed in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, the Mountain States Conference, and the Western Athletic Conference.

All teams are named the "Cougars", a name that was first introduced by Eugene L. Roberts in the 1920s, initially only applied to the football team. In 1924, live cougar kittens named Cleo and Tarbo were brought to BYU and used as its mascots. In 1930, Tarbo died and Cleo was sent to the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City.[5] By the 1950s all sports teams were known as the Cougars and it was decided that having a person in a costume was a better mascot form than live animals. In 1953, Cosmo the Cougar was created by Dwayne Stevenson.[6] The school's fight song is the "Cougar Fight Song".

BYU is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church),[7] and the overwhelming majority of its students are members of that church. Because many of its players serve on full-time missions for two years, BYU's athletes are often older on average than other schools' players. The NCAA allows students to serve missions for two years without subtracting that time from their eligibility period. This has caused minor controversy, but is largely recognized as not lending the school any significant advantage, since players receive no athletic and little physical training during their missions.[8] BYU has also received attention from sports networks for refusal to play games on Sunday, as well as disciplining players due to honor code violations.[9][10]

Varsity sports

Brigham Young University sponsors teams in ten men's and eleven women's NCAA sanctioned sports:[11]


Main article: BYU Cougars baseball

The BYU baseball team played its first game in 1895[12] and currently plays in the Larry H. Miller Field.


Men's basketball

The Marriott Center, home to the Cougars' men's and women's basketball teams

The BYU men's basketball team is ranked among top 25 NCAA programs for all-time total victories. As of 2006, BYU had 82 winning seasons, 26 conference titles, 21 NCAA tournament invites, 10 NIT invites, and 2 NIT titles (1951 and 1966). In 2005, the program was ranked 36th in Street & Smiths "100 greatest College Basketball Programs of All Time", based on NCAA tournament success, NIT success, national championships, conference regular-season and tournament titles, all-time win-loss percentage, graduation percentage, NCAA infractions, NBA first round draft picks, and mascot ferocity.[13] In the 2006–07 season, the Cougars became nationally ranked for the first time since 1994 and won the Mountain West Conference regular season championship outright.[14]

Women's basketball

The BYU women's basketball team represents the university in the West Coast Conference and is coached by Jeff Judkins. The Cougars play their home games in the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah. The team has made eight NCAA Tournament appearances in the last 30 years and has frequently been at the top of its conference.

Cross country

Two BYU runners have won individual cross country national champions; Ed Eyestone in 1985 and Josh Rohatinsky in 2006.[15] The BYU women's cross-country team has won National Championships in 1997, 1999, 2001, and 2002.


Main article: BYU Cougars football
The school's first football team won the regional championship in 1896.

The Brigham Young University Cougars football program competes at the NCAA Division I FBS (formerly I-A) level. Coached by Kalani Sitake, the team plays at LaVell Edwards Stadium. In 1984, the undefeated Cougars were voted the consensus national champion.[16] BYU is known as a "quarterback factory" for producing several successful quarterbacks,[17][18] including 1990 Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer.[19] Alumni who have played in the NFL include Jim McMahon, Steve Young, Gifford Nielsen, Bart Oates, Chad Lewis, Vai Sikahema, and Todd Christensen.[20][21]

Women's soccer

Since joining the NCAA in 1995, the women's soccer team has appeared in the NCAA tournament 15 times, reaching as far as the Elite Eight in 2003[22] and 2012.[23]

Track and field

The BYU track team has had several national champions and olympians. The 1970 Men's track and field team tied with Oregon and Kansas to win the National Championship. Miles Batty won the indoor national championship in the mile. In March 2011 BYU's Leif Arrhenius won the shot put competition in the NCAA track and field national championships and men's distance relay team also won the national title in their event.[24]


BYU's men's volleyball has won the NCAA National Championship three times (1999, 2001, and 2004) and has been the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation champion six times (1999, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2013, and 2014). The women's volleyball team is also consistently nationally ranked, reaching the regional semifinal of the 2013 NCAA tournament.[25]

In 2013, the Cougars defeated the Penn State Nittany Lions 3-0 (25-21, 25-16, 25-22) in the second semifinal of the NCAA championships on May 2, 2013 at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion and advanced to 2013 national championship match with UC Irvine on May 4, 2013. The Cougars lost the match 0-3 (23–25, 22–25, 24–26), unable to pick up a fourth title.

Extramural and recognized sports

BYU sponsors extramural competition in five sports - racquetball, men's lacrosse, men's rugby, women's rugby, and men's soccer.[26] Men's hockey is not an "extramural sport" but is given "recognized sport" status.[26]

Men's Lacrosse

The BYU Cougars Men's Lacrosse team currently competes in the Men's College Lacrosse Association (MCLA) as a member of the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference (RMLC).[27] The BYU Lacrosse team was founded in 1975; however, significant records of the team only date back to 1995 when Jason Lamb began his tenure as head coach.[27] The BYU Lacrosse team had four wins and five losses (4-5) in their first season under Coach Lamb, accounting for their only losing season on record. The Cougars went 13-3 in his second season and have not had a losing season since.[27] The team’s worst record since 1995 came in 2006 when they went 12-8, although during the 2006 national tournament they advanced to the Final Four. The summer of 2009 brought a coaching change to the lacrosse team when long-time assistant, Matt Schneck took over the reigns as the head coach. In his second season as head coach, Schneck led the Cougars to their fourth National Championship. With the 2011 Championship, Schneck became the first person in MCLA History to win a National Championship as both player and head coach.[27]

The Cougars won the national championship in 1997, 2000, 2007, and 2011. The Cougars have won the RMLC championship eight times in the past 15 years, capturing the title in 1997-1999, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2009.[27]

Women's Lacrosse

As of October 8, 2015, Brigham Young University is adding two new women’s teams to its extramural sports programs, which currently includes five teams. The two new sports are women’s rugby and women’s lacrosse.

The current program includes men’s lacrosse, men’s rugby, men’s soccer and men’s and women’s racquetball. The extramural program falls under the direction of Student Life at BYU. Teams in this program compete outside of the university.[28]


BYU's men's racquetball team placed third at the 2008 USA Racquetball National Intercollegiate Championships.[29] The BYU women's raquetball team has had nine national championships: in 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2008.

Men's Rugby

Main article: BYU men's rugby

Founded in 1965, the BYU men's rugby team plays college rugby in the Utah conference of Division 1-AA. BYU has been led since 2006 by head coach David Smyth, who was also head coach of the collegiate All-Americans in 2006 & 2007.[30] BYU plays its home games at South Field. Several BYU players have gone on to play for the U.S. national team.

BYU has been a major force in American college rugby. BYU reached the USA Rugby national championship match in 7 consecutive years from 2006 to 2012.[31] BYU rugby won its first national championship in 2009 by defeating the University of California, Berkeley,[32] and again won the national championship in 2012.[33] The following season, several of the top college rugby teams withdrew from the USA Rugby D1A competition and organized their own championship called the Varsity Cup, which many view as equivalent to a national championship.[34] In 2013, BYU had an undefeated season, won the Varsity Cup by beating Cal in the final, and finished the season ranked the #1 team in college rugby.[34][35]

Women's Rugby

As of Oct 8, 2015, Brigham Young University is adding two new women’s teams to its extramural sports programs, which currently includes five teams. The two new sports are women’s rugby and women’s lacrosse.

The current program includes men’s lacrosse, men’s rugby, men’s soccer and men’s and women’s racquetball. The extramural program falls under the direction of Student Life at BYU. Teams in this program compete outside of the university.[28]

Men's soccer

The BYU Cougars men's soccer competes in the USL Premier Development League (PDL), the fourth tier of the American Soccer Pyramid, in the Southwest Division of the Western Conference. The team plays its home games at The Stadium at South Field on the campus of Brigham Young University, where they have played since 2003.

Ice hockey

Ice hockey has been a part of BYU for many years, but at the beginning of the 2007/2008 season, the Provo IceCats, a club team composed of Brigham Young students which had been around since at least 1970, finally gained recognition as an official sport at BYU. Upon being officially recognized, the Cougar hockey team began representing their school by wearing the BYU logo on their uniforms and in their advertising. Although the team is officially recognized and sponsored by the university, it will continue to be funded by donors and private individuals. The Cougar ice hockey team now competes in the Division II Western Conference of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA).

Other sports

As of 2011 BYU has about 550 athletes on 21 teams including football and men's basketball.[36]

BYU has Men and Women's Swimming and Diving Teams which have produced 26 Olympians and 31 All-Americans. In the 2009-10 NCAA NCAA final ranking: Women (1) Men (3).[37]

The BYU softball team rejoined the bulk of the school's teams in the WCC in July 2013, when the conference began sponsoring softball once Pacific rejoined after an absence of more than 40 years.[38] BYU softball had returned to the Western Athletic Conference as part of the school's 2011 conference change, but played only one season in the WAC,[39] moving to the Pacific Coast Softball Conference after the 2012 season and playing there for what proved to be the PCSC's final season in 2013.[40]

The BYU men's golf team won the 1981 NCAA Championship. They have won 24 conference championships: 21 Western Athletic Conference (1966, 1968, 1970, 1972–77, 1980–84, 1986–87, 1990–92, 1995, 1999), two Mountain West Conference (2001, 2007) and one West Coast Conference (2014).

Former programs

BYU ended its wrestling and men's gymnastics programs at the end of the 1999–2000 season. This decision was officially made largely due to a lack of other teams in the region to compete with, when in actuality, it was mostly Title IX reasons. For wrestling, this reason was highly debated at the time as there were plenty of teams to compete with in the region, and a state rival was even added with Utah Valley University.[41]


Similar to other Division I programs, football and men's basketball provide the majority of BYU's athletics revenue and profits. Revenue comes from ticket sales, corporate sponsors, broadcasting contracts, and contributions. In 2009 BYU athletics had revenue of $41 million and expenses of $35 million, resulting in a profit of $5.5 million or about 16%. That year football provided more than 60% of revenue, used 42% of total expenses, and had a profit margin of 53%. Men's basketball provided about 15% of revenue and had an 8% profit margin. Women's basketball provided less than 3% of revenue and was unprofitable, as were all other sports.[36][42]

National Championships

As of the start of the 2014–15 school year, BYU claims 16 national championships. Ten are official NCAA championships, four are in a sport not governed by the NCAA, and two are in an NCAA-governed sport but stem from a non-NCAA tournament.[43]

See also


  1. "Colors–Identity Guidelines–Athletics". Brigham Young University. Retrieved 2016-04-05.
  2. quick facts sheet Archived September 15, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. Tittle, Duff (2010-10-18). "BYU Swimming and Diving to join the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation". Retrieved 2010-10-08.
  4. Rothlisburger, Jen (2011-03-16). "BYU Announces New Direction for Men's and Women's Track Teams". Retrieved 2011-03-16.
  5. BYU special collections reference page on Cleo and Tarbo
  6. BYU webpage on Cosmo
  7. "History of BYU". Brigham Young University. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  8. Crain, Nate (2005-06-10). "The Myth of the BYU Missionary Advantage". Retrieved 2008-01-21.
  9. Jackson, Lisa Ann. "Setting things straight". BYU Magazine. Retrieved 2008-01-21.
  10. Drew, Jay (2011-03-03). "BYU's Brandon Davies apologizes to teammates". The Salt Lake City Tribune. Retrieved 2011-03-10.
  12. BYU Baseball FAQ | The Official Site of BYU Athletics. Retrieved on 2013-07-17.
  13. "100 Greatest College Basketball Programs of All Time". 2008. Archived from the original on February 12, 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-21.
  14. "No. 23 BYU extends home winning streak to 38". USA Today. December 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-21.
  15. "Richard Zokol". Mike Weir Official Site. Retrieved 2008-05-12.
  16. "BYU Football All-Time Results". BYU Athletics. 2007. Archived from the original on 27 December 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-21.
  17. McCurdie, Jim (1986-12-31). "The Freedom Bowl". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-09-06.
  18. "BYU football: Unga can break team's all-time mark with another 854 yards". Deseret News. 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-06.
  19. "BYU Football Honors". BYU Athletics. 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-21.
  20. "Football Athlete Profile - Jim McMahon". BYU Athletics. 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-21.
  21. "Steve Young". Sports Reference, LLC. Archived from the original on 22 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-21.
  22. "BYU Women's Soccer in the NCAA TOURNEY". BYU Athletics. Retrieved 2008-01-21.
  23. Soccer falls 2-1 in NCAA quarterfinals | The Official Site of BYU Athletics. Retrieved on 2013-07-17.
  24. Deseret News, march 11, 2011
  25. 2012 Division I Women's Volleyball Tournament. (2011-02-25). Retrieved on 2013-07-17.
  26. 1 2 BYU Athletics, Extramural Sports at BYU,
  27. 1 2 3 4 5 "BYU lacrosse". BYU Lacrosse. Archived from the original on 13 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-11.
  28. 1 2 "BYU adds two teams to its extramural sports program". Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  29. BYU NewsNet - Racquetball Places Third at Nationals
  30. BYU Rugby, Head Coach,
  31. Meridian Magazine :: Sports: BYU Rugby Team Wins Games and the Respect of Opponents
  32. Caroline Ogawa. "Quest for Sixth Straight Title Falls at Foot of Davies, BYU". Archived from the original on 10 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
  33. BYU defeats Cal 27-24, wins inaugural Varsity Cup rugby national championship | BYU Sports | The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved on 2013-07-17.
  34. 1 2 This Is American Rugby, College Top Ten: Final Edition, May 22, 2013,
  35. Rugby Mag, All Divisions College Top 25 May 22, 2013, presented by Selective Service, May 22, 2013,
  36. 1 2 Despain, Joshua (2011-02-17). "BYU sports budget rundown shows what sports profit, cost". Deseret News. Retrieved March 28, 2011.
  37. BYU Men's Swimming & Diving Home | The Official Site of BYU Athletics. Retrieved on 2013-07-17.
  38. "WCC Softball Begins Competition in 2014" (Press release). West Coast Conference. September 13, 2012. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
  39. Tittle, Duff (2011-01-27). "BYU Softball To Join Western Athletic Conference". Retrieved 2011-01-27.
  40. "BYU softball to join PCSC" (Press release). BYU Athletics. December 12, 2011. Retrieved July 8, 2012.
  41. BYU Magazine Summer 1999
  42. Despain, Joshua (2011-02-18). "BYU's sports budget not seeing red ink financing smaller sports". Deseret News. Retrieved March 28, 2011.
  43. "National Champions". BYU Athletics. Archived from the original on 5 February 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-07.
  44. The National Invitation Tournament is now operated by the NCAA, but did not come under NCAA control until 2006.

External links

Coordinates: 40°14′49″N 111°39′18″W / 40.2470°N 111.6550°W / 40.2470; -111.6550

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