Santa Clara Broncos

Santa Clara Broncos
University Santa Clara University
Conference West Coast Conference
NCAA Division I
Athletic director Renee Baumgartner
Location Santa Clara, California
Varsity teams 19
Basketball arena Leavey Center
Baseball stadium Stephen Schott Stadium
Soccer stadium Buck Shaw Stadium
Mascot Bronco
Nickname Broncos
Fight song "Fight For Santa Clara"
Colors Maroon and White[1]

The Santa Clara Broncos are athletic teams that represent Santa Clara University.[2] The school colors are red and white. The mascot is a bucking bronco and the fans are referred to as the "Ruff Riders". The Broncos compete in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) as members of the West Coast Conference of which Santa Clara is a charter member.[3]


Santa Clara University sponsors teams in nine men's and twelve women's NCAA sanctioned sports:[4]

Varsity sports


The Santa Clara University Broncos baseball team is the varsity intercollegiate baseball team that represents Santa Clara University in NCAA Division I college baseball. Santa Clara Baseball competes in the West Coast Conference, of which the Santa Clara Broncos were a charter member. The Broncos play their home games on campus at Stephen Schott Stadium, which opened in 2005. The Broncos and are led by head coach Dan O'Brien, in his third season.

Having begun play in 1883, Santa Clara is currently in its 129th season of varsity baseball, and has enjoyed a long history of baseball excellence. Santa Clara has won 11 Conference Pennants, and appeared in 12 NCAA Tournaments, including a runner-up finish in the 1962 College World Series. Individually, 34 Broncos have been named All-Americans, and 158 players have been drafted in the MLB Draft, with 48 players making it to the Major Leagues.

Men's basketball

Men's basketball played its first season in 1904. Since then, the men's basketball team has historically been a strong program within the West Coast Conference. The program has produced 13 All-Americans, with their first, Bob Feerick, coming in the 1942 season. The program has produced NBA stars Steve Nash, and Kurt Rambis, as well as college stars Ken Sears and Bob Feerick. The Team has played in the NCAA tournament in 11 different seasons, reaching the 1952 Final Four. The 1992-1993 Santa Clara team, led by future NBA MVP Steve Nash, was one of 6 #15 seeds to defeat a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

On February 12, 2007, the men's basketball team snapped Gonzaga's 50 game home winning streak. At the time, it was the longest ongoing home winning streak in the NCAA.

Women's basketball

Women's basketball played its first season in 1963. Since then, the women's basketball team has historically been a strong program within the West Coast Conference. The Women's Basketball team won the WNIT in 1991. The 2012–13 Santa Clara Broncos women's basketball team was another notable team. Head Coach JR Payne signed a contract with the Santa Clara Bronco in the 2014 season. Finishing with a record of 10-20 during the season of 2014-2015, the Broncos came out with a outstanding record of 23-9 beating Stanford University on November 23rd, (61- 58). [6] Coach JR Payne accepted a head coaching position at Colorado University at the end of the 2015 season[7] and Bill Carr took her position.[8]

Men's soccer

The men's soccer team is one of the nation's elite teams having since 2006 been among the top eight programs of the NCAA for developing professional players overall. The men's soccer team has reached the championship match of the College Cup three times. In 1989, they faced the University of Virginia and played to a 1-1 tie that was called due to darkness after 2 overtimes, earning both Santa Clara and Virginia a share of the National Championship. In 1991 they again faced Virginia and again tied after regulation, this time 0-0, but lost to the Cavaliers on penalty kicks. In 1999, they lost to Indiana University, 0-1.

Santa Clara is the only school in NCAA history to twice have both its men's and women's soccer programs ranked No. 1 simultaneously.

Women's soccer

The women's soccer team is one of the nation's elite programs in the NCAA consistently ranking among the top ten teams nationally with twenty consecutive years in the Top 10. The program won the national title in the 2001 NCAA Women's Soccer Championship, beating University of North Carolina 1-0. The team was mentioned several times in the film Bend It Like Beckham.

The team has had over 40 players in play in the top professional leagues in the country: Women's Professional Soccer and National Women's Soccer League. The team's most famous player is Brandi Chastain who took the Broncos to two NCAA Final Four appearances in 1989 and 1990. She would later be on the American Olympic team that won the gold medal in 1996 and the American World Cup teams that won in 1991 and 1999. Her husband Jerry Smith is the coach of the Santa Clara women's team. Other notable players include Olympian Aly Wagner as well as 2015 Women's World Cup champion Julie Johnston.

Former varsity sports


Santa Clara University fielded an intercollegiate football team from 1896 to 1992. The Broncos were the first team to play the Cal Bears in Memorial Stadium. In Santa Clara's football heyday, they drew crowds of up to 60,000 to Kezar Stadium in San Francisco, where they played home games. The Broncos competed favorably on a national scale, winning the 1937 and 1938 Sugar Bowls (both against Louisiana State) and the 1950 Orange Bowl against Paul "Bear" Bryant's Kentucky Wildcats, 21-13.

Combatting increased costs, rising enrollments at public universities and the advent of professional football, Santa Clara dropped football in 1952. The team was reinstated in 1959. It competed favorably at the college division (later Division II) level until football was once again discontinued in 1992, due to new NCAA regulations which mandated all sports be played at the same level at each university. Santa Clara had fielded all Division I teams with the exception of the Division II football team, and elected not to field a team at the Division I-AA level.

There is no indication football will return to the school in the future, although rumors of the return of Bronco football have not been put to rest. Advocates for the reinstatement of the football program argue that major collegiate football will generate enormous media buzz surrounding the small university.

Club sports

Sponsored club sports include:

The Santa Clara Women's Lacrosse team has made it to nationals multiple years and placed 3rd in the 2011 season. In 2008, the Santa Clara Paintball Team made it to the final rounds of the NCPA national competition in Florida.


The Santa Clara University Rugby Football Club has a rich history. The rugby team began in 1907, around the time that a number of California schools were dropping American football due to its violence.[9] The team went undefeated in the 1916 regular season, and in the "Big Game" against Stanford — the only other undefeated rugby team that season — Santa Clara won 28–5.[10] Santa Clara's Rudy Scholz was a member of the U.S. national rugby teams that won gold at the 1920 and 1924 Olympics.[11] Santa Clara rugby faded after that, however, and it was not until the 1960s that the rugby team was re-founded.[12]

In 2008, the Santa Clara men's rugby club reached the Pacific Coast Playoffs. They ousted Western Washington before falling to eventual division champion Utah Valley State. Santa Clara followed with a strong 2009 campaign. In 2010, Santa Clara qualified for the National tournament with the 2nd seed from the Pacific, and finished ranked 16th in the nation. Following their success on the DII national stage and the creation of the College Premier Division, Santa Clara made the move to DI in the Northern California League (Nor Cal League).[13] In 2012 Santa Clara men's rugby won the 2012 Nor Cal Conference Championship and advanced to the round of 16 of the D1 National Playoffs.[14] In 2013, Santa Clara was promoted to Division 1-A and played in the California conference. In 2014, Santa Clara finished second in the California conference, qualifying for the playoffs, beating Colorado State 49–12 in the round of 16, before losing to Saint Mary's in the quarterfinals.[15] Santa Clara rugby is led by head coach Paul Keeler.

In 2011, the Santa Clara women's rugby team competed in the USA Rugby Women's College Sevens National Championships.


San Francisco Dons

Within the West Coast Conference, Santa Clara's bitterest rival is the University of San Francisco Dons. As comparably sized Jesuit schools within an hour's drive, these two schools have competed against each other for decades.[16] The Rivalry was originally rooted in the two schools' football programs, who both played home games at Kezar Stadium. After USF dropped football in 1952, the rivalry was most heated in men's basketball, as both teams were nationally ranked in the 1950s, with Santa Clara appearing in the tournament in 1952, 1953, and 1954 and USF winning the tournament in 1954 and 1955. The teams have played each other over 200 times in basketball, with Santa Clara holding a slight edge in the all-time series. The rivalry was known as one of the oldest and most intense rivalries in college basketball. However, the rivalry has lost some of its luster following the self-imposed "death penalty" of San Francisco's basketball program for several seasons following scandals in the late 1980s. Since that time, San Francisco has not been the national power they once, leading Santa Clara's current generation to see the rivalries with Gonzaga and Saint Mary's as more important. In addition to basketball, both schools have won national championships in Men's Soccer.

Saint Mary's Gaels

The Saint Mary's Gaels are considered, second only to USF, as Santa Clara's most heated rival. The school is located within an hour and a half drive and is also a member of the West Coast Conference. While Santa Clara and USF are comparable in size and are both Jesuit, Santa Clara and St. Mary's are very different. The more rural St. Mary's is a Christian Brothers school and is much smaller than Santa Clara. With USF dropping football in 1952, St. Mary's became Santa Clara's most heated football rival until both programs meet their end in the 1990s. The football game between the schools was known as the "Little Big Game", a reference to Stanford and Cal's "Big Game". The game may have been called little, but in the 1920s and 1930s, it was attended by more than 60,000 fans. Although the schools no longer meet on the gridiron, basketball games remain fierce and competitive.

Gonzaga Bulldogs

The Gonzaga Bulldogs were not well known athletically until they made inspired runs in the NCAA tournament in the 1990s and 2000s. As a West Coast Conference opponent and a Jesuit institution, the Bulldogs are a natural rival for the Broncos on the hardwood. On February 12, 2007, the Bronco basketball team snapped Gonzaga's 50 game home winning streak. At the time, it was the longest ongoing home winning streak in the NCAA. Gonzaga is regularly the biggest draw for the Broncos Men's Basketball team.

Stanford Cardinal

The Santa Clara vs. Stanford rivalry can be traced back to 1902 with the rivalry of their football teams with such events as the "The Big Game" in 1916. When Santa Clara discontinued their football team, the rivalry continued through their rugby athletic programs. From that point on the Santa Clara vs. Stanford rivalry has grown to include many of both schools' athletics programs, resulting in highly heated battles. In the sport of soccer the rivalry is one of the most competitive for both schools, with both teams often finding themselves competitors on the road to national titles. The rivalry is Stanford's longest uninterrupted rivalry with any team except Cal. Santa Clara and Stanford are often both in the hunt for the Women's soccer national championship, leading to heated regular season and post-season match-ups. Both schools are located in Santa Clara County, with the campus separated by only 21 miles.

California Golden Bears

The Santa Clara vs. Cal rivalry has existed for many decades as both schools are the two oldest schools on the West Coast. The rivalry first started with the competition between both schools football teams, and then rugby teams in response to dangers present in American football. The rivalry now includes many of the two schools' programs. The Bears and Broncos traditionally field two of the strongest Men and Women's soccer teams in the country, leading to nationally ranked match-ups between the schools in that sport most seasons.

San Jose State Spartans

Santa Clara's "Seven Mile Rival" is located a stones throw from the mission campus in downtown San Jose. The schools proximity, complemented by the schools major differences- SJSU is four times as large and Santa Clara, and is a public school, while Santa Clara is private- constitute a natural rivalry. In addition, both schools are among the oldest in the state, with Santa Clara opening in 1851 and SJSU in 1855. The schools rivalry has manifested itself primarily in basketball and baseball, however, Santa Clara holds a lead in the all-time series in both sports.

Conference rivals

Due to the Broncos longtime affiliation with the West Coast Conference, Santa Clara maintains less intense rivalries with the other conference opponents, the Pepperdine Waves, the Portland Pilots, the Loyola Marymount Lions, and the San Diego Toreros.


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