Public Affairs

CSU Athletics: Facts, Firsts and Feats

Nov. 15, 2012
By Elizabeth Chapin

Fifty years ago, the Spartans fielded the first integrated cross country team to win the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I title (photo courtesy of Spartan Athletics).
Fifty years ago, the Spartans fielded the first integrated cross country team to win the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I title (photo courtesy of Spartan Athletics).

The NCAA recently posted a web feature paying tribute to San Jose State’s 1962 cross country team—the first integrated team to win a Division I title in that sport.

Throughout the CSU's athletic history, there's been a number of "firsts." Here are some more historical highlights, storied traditions and fun facts about CSU athletics:

  • The Icardo Center at CSU Bakersfield is home to the NCAA’s first all-blue playing surface for basketball and volleyball.

  • Once a trophy of the Cal Poly-Fresno State football rivalry, the Victory Bell is now rung after every point scored at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo home football games.

  • In 1946, students at Humboldt State constructed the bleachers surrounding the Redwood Bowl under the direction of a local carpenters union.

  • We all know about Cougars, Pioneers, Otters and Dolphins… but what’s a Keelhauler? Cal Maritime’s official athletics mascot refers to the practice of keelhauling, a form of corporal punishment that was formerly practiced in the Dutch and English navies. While keelhauling was abolished in 1853, the Keelhauler lives on as one of the most unique nicknames in collegiate athletics.

  • Cal Poly Pomona boasts more national championships than any other division II school in California, most recently winning the men’s basketball title in 2010.

  • The Causeway Cup, a product of Sacramento State's rivalry with UC Davis, refers to the long Yolo Causeway Bridge between the two schools. Although the Cup started as football bragging rights, it was recently expanded to include all sports.

  • San José State’s football team had just arrived in Hawaii to play in a bowl game on Dec. 7, 1941. The players, stranded after the attack on Pearl Harbor, served with the Honolulu police department to enforce blackout regulations and guard the city’s waterworks.

  • Fresno State "V"The green "V" featured on all Fresno State student-athletes' uniforms symbolizes the university’s pride in representing the San Joaquin Valley. The color green was selected to honor the importance of the agriculture industry to the region.

  • San Diego State's 1941 NAIA National Championship team.Advancing to the third round in NCAA Division I last year, San Diego State's men's basketball team is no stranger to the Big Dance. The Aztecs were also the NAIA national champions in 1941.
  • CSU Bakersfield alumnus Stephen Neal reached the highest level of success in two sports. In his senior year at CSUB, Neal won wrestling's World Championship. And although he never played football in college, Neal went on to win three Super Bowl rings as an offensive lineman for the New England Patriots in 2002, 2004, and 2005.

It’s not all about championships. Giving back to the community is yet another accomplishment for CSU student-athletes, coaches and staff to take pride in. For example, student-athletes at CSU Dominguez Hills were recently recognized by the National Consortium for Academics and Sports for connecting with approximately 6,500 A CSU Fullerton student-athlete visits with a local elementary school student.youth in just one year of outreach efforts.

CSU student athletes are also successful in academics and serve as role models to inspire kids to go to college. For example, athletes at Chico State and CSU Fullerton regularly visit local schools and teach kids about teamwork, leadership, science, and art through activities related to their sports.