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Illinois State Redbirds

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NCAA  Division I
Location  Normal, Illinois
Athletic director  Larry Lyons
Illinois State Redbirds
University  Illinois State University
Conference  Missouri Valley Conference
Varsity teams  17 (7 men's, 10 women's)

The Illinois State Redbirds are the athletic teams that represent Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. Teams play at the NCAA Division I level (FCS in football). The football team competes in the Missouri Valley Football Conference while most other teams compete in the Missouri Valley Conference. The fight song is Go, You Redbirds.



A member of the Missouri Valley Conference, Illinois State University sponsors eight men's and eleven women's teams in NCAA sanctioned sports:



Illinois State began its athletics program more than 100 years ago. The school, which had already been an NCAA Division I competitor for a decade, left behind its independent status in 1980 and affiliated itself with the Missouri Valley Conference. From 1981 to 1992, Redbird women's teams competed under the Gateway Conference banner before women's sports were absorbed into the Missouri Valley Conference.

From approximately 1910-1970, Illinois State was affiliated with the Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Athletics at Illinois State consists of 19 intercollegiate sports, having won 125 league titles in 23 years.

Today, 17 of the 19 Redbird sports compete in the Missouri Valley Conference, with the football team playing in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, formerly known as the Gateway Conference.

Redbird 7

On 7 April 2015, seven men died when a privately owned Cessna 414 carrying Redbirds men's basketball coach Torrey Ward, Deputy Director of Athletics Aaron Leetch, and five community members and athletics supporters crashed. The group was returning from Indianapolis, where they attended the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship Final. The plane crashed in a soybean field outside of Central Illinois Regional Airport in McLean County. The University and Athletics Department memorialized the victims in several ways, including a uniform patch worn by all 19 teams throughout the 2015–16 sports seasons. In addition, a permanent memorial called Redbird Remembrance directly in the heart of the Redbird Athletics. [1]

Men's Basketball

Missouri Valley Conference Titles: 1983, 1990, 1993, 1997, 1998

NCAA Appearances: 1983, 1984, 1985, 1990, 1997, 1998

  • 1983: Lost to Ohio.
  • 1984: Defeated Alabama before losing to DePaul.
  • 1985: Defeated USC before losing to Oklahoma.
  • 1990: Lost to Michigan.
  • 1997: Lost to Iowa State.
  • 1998: Defeated Tennessee in overtime before losing to Arizona.
  • NIT Appearances: 1977, 1978, 1980, 1987, 1988, 1995, 1996, 2001, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2015

  • 1977: Defeated Creighton before losing to Houston.
  • 1978: Lost to Indiana State.
  • 1980: Defeated West Texas State before losing at Illinois.
  • 1987: Defeated Akron and Cleveland State before losing at Lasalle.
  • 1988: Lost in overtime at Cleveland State.
  • 1995: Lost to Washington State.
  • 1996: Defeated Mt. Saint Mary's and Wisconsin before losing at Tulane.
  • 2001: Lost at Purdue.
  • 2008: Defeated Utah State before losing to Dayton.
  • 2009: Lost in overtime at Kansas State.
  • 2010: Lost to the eventual 2010 NIT Champion Dayton.
  • 2012: Defeated Ole Miss before losing to eventual 2012 NIT Champion Stanford.
  • 2015: Defeated UW-Green Bay before losing at Old Dominion.
  • Women's Basketball

    Missouri Valley Conference Titles: 1983, 1989, 2005, 2008, 2009

    NCAA Appearances: 1983, 1985, 1989, 2005, 2008

  • 1983: Lost to Kansas State.
  • 1985: Lost to Louisiana Tech.
  • 1989: Defeated Northwestern State before losing to Stanford.
  • 2005: Lost to eventual 2005 NCAA Champion Baylor.
  • 2008: Lost to Oklahoma
  • Women's National Invitation Tournament Appearances: 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013

  • 2007: Defeated Rice in overtime before losing at South Dakota State.
  • 2009: Defeated Louisiana Tech, Marquette, and Indiana before losing to Kansas.
  • 2010: Defeated Butler, Purdue, Kansas, and Illinois before losing to California.
  • 2011: Defeated Central Michigan, Wisconsin, Dusquesne, and Arkansas before losing to USC.
  • 2012: Defeated Central Michigan before losing at Villanova.
  • 2013: Defeated IUPUI before losing at Kansas State.
  • During the 2007-2008 season, former Head Coach Dr. Jill Hutchinson was recognized for her pioneering work in the advancement of women’s basketball. A banner was hung from the rafters at Redbird Arena in her honor.
  • 2009 Kristi Cirone becomes the all-time leading scorer.
  • December 28, 2009 Kristi Cirone's No. 10 jersey was retired at Redbird Arena. Redbird Women's Basketball
  • Football

    Missouri Valley Football Conference Championships: 1999, 2014, 2015

    NCAA Division I Football Championship Playoffs: 1998, 1999, 2006, 2012, 2014, 2015

  • 1998: Lost at Northwestern State.
  • 1999: Defeated Colgate and Hofstra before losing at eventual National Champion Georgia Southern.
  • 2006: Lost at Youngstown State.
  • 2012: Defeated Appalachian State in overtime before losing at Eastern Washington.
  • 2014: Defeated Northern Iowa, Eastern Washington, and New Hampshire before losing 29-27 to North Dakota State in the FCS National Championship Game.
  • 2015: Defeated Northern Iowa before losing to Richmond.
  • Bowl Games

  • The 1999 & 2006 the Midwest Region Championship (FCS Quarterfinal) was referred to as the Pecan Bowl
  • In 1999 the Redbirds football team advanced to the Final Four and finished 3rd in the AP poll.
  • Illinois State holds the NCAA Division I-AA record for the most tied football games with 66.
  • Softball

    Illinois State's softball team played in the Women's College World Series eight times in 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1976, 1978 and 1981. The team finished as runner-up in the first WCWS in 1969, and in 1973, falling to Arizona State, 4-3, in 16 innings in the title game. On the day of the 1973 defeat, Redbirds pitcher Margie Wright heroically hurled 30 innings in three games. Ironically, for pitching too many innings in one day, a three-woman Illinois sports commission suspended her from pitching in any game in her upcoming senior season and also banned the softball team from post-season play in 1974. Wright went on to play professional softball, followed by a 33-year head coaching career. She coached the Redbirds from 1980–85, followed by 27 years at Fresno State, where she became the first NCAA Division I softball coach to reach 1000 wins and the NCAA's all-time winningest softball coach.


  • Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena - main indoor arena.
  • Hancock Stadium - football stadium.
  • Duffy Bass Field - baseball field.
  • Adelaide Street Field - soccer field.
  • McCormick Courts - outdoor tennis courts.
  • Marian Kneer Softball Stadium - softball field.
  • D.A. Weibring Golf Club - golf course.
  • Horton Field House
  • Evergreen Racquet Club - indoor tennis court.
  • Notable former athletes


  • Mike Zimmer - American football coach for the Minnesota Vikings
  • Nate Palmer - National Football League Inside linebacker for the Tennessee Titans
  • James O'Shaughnessy (American football) - National Football League Tight End for the Kansas City Chiefs
  • Cameron Meredith - National Football League Wide receiver for the Chicago Bears
  • Kevin Glenn - Canadian Football League quarterback for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers
  • Colton Underwood - Current Free Agent - Former National Football League Tight End for the Oakland Raiders
  • Shelby Harris - Current Free Agent - Former National Football League Defensive end for the Oakland Raiders
  • Boomer Grigsby - retired National Football League Fullback and 2017 College Football Hall of Fame Inductee
  • Mike Prior - Former National Football League player and part of Green Bay Packers team that won Super Bowl XXXI
  • Dennis Nelson - Former National Football League player and part of Baltimore Colts team that won Super Bowl V
  • Tom Nelson (American football) - Current Free Agent- Former NFL Wide Receiver with the Cincinnati Bengals and the Philadelphia Eagles.
  • Aveion Cason - retired National Football League Running back
  • Laurent Robinson - Retired NFL Wide Receiver .
  • Men's Basketball

  • Doug Collins - NBA broadcaster, head coach, player and Olympian.
  • Dan Muller (basketball) - Current basketball coach at Illinois State University
  • Chamberlain Oguchi - a member of Nigeria's 2012 Summer Olympics team
  • Steve Fisher - basketball coach at San Diego State, head coach of 1989 National Championship Michigan Wolverines men's basketball team
  • Tarise Bryson - Harlem Globetrotters (1998–2002)
  • Rico Hill - star guard led ISU to two straight NCAA berths and played for the Los Angeles Clippers and in Europe
  • Women's Basketball

  • Cathy Boswell - College Basketball All American and 1984 Summer Olympics Gold Medalist for United States women's national basketball team.
  • Charlotte Lewis (basketball) - 1976 Summer Olympics Silver Medalist for the USA
  • Kristi Cirone - Former WNBA point guard
  • Lorene Ramsey - Former Women's Basketball coach of Illinois Central College, who with a career record of 887-197
  • Baseball

  • Brock Stewart - Major League Baseball pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Dave Bergman - retired Major League Baseball player and World Series Champion (1984)
  • Matt Herges - Major League Baseball pitcher for the Florida Marlins and Cleveland Indians
  • Neal Cotts - Current Free Agent- Former MLB Pitcher with the Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, Milwaukee Brewers, and Minnesota Twins.
  • Dan Kolb - Retired Major League Baseball relief pitcher
  • Lee "Buzz" Capra - former Atlanta Braves pitcher who led the National League in Earned Run Average in 1973
  • Track & Field

  • Tim Glover - 2011 & 2012 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships National Champion in Javelin Throw
  • Aisha Praught - Former All-American & 2016 Summer Olympics athlete for Jamaica
  • Softball

  • Margie Wright - professional softball player, 33 years college head coach (27 at Fresno State), NCAA all-time winningest softball coach.
  • Men's Golf

  • D. A. Weibring - Professional golfer on the PGA Tour
  • References

    Illinois State Redbirds Wikipedia