Illinois State Redbirds

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Illinois State Redbirds
University Illinois State University
Conference Missouri Valley Conference
Missouri Valley Football Conference
Midwest Independent Conference (women's gymnastics)
Summit League (men's tennis)
NCAA Division I
Athletic director Larry Lyons
Location Normal, Illinois
Varsity teams 17 (7 men's, 10 women's)
Football stadium Hancock Stadium
Basketball arena Redbird Arena
Baseball stadium Duffy Bass Field
Soccer field Adelaide Street Field
Mascot Reggie Redbird
Nickname Redbirds
Fight song Go, You Redbirds
Colors Red and White[1]

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.[2]


A member of the Missouri Valley Conference, Illinois State University sponsors eight men's and eleven women's teams in NCAA sanctioned sports:[3]

Men's Intercollegiate Sports Team Page Head Coach Women's Intercollegiate Sports Team Page Head Coach
Baseball Redbird baseball Bo Durkac Basketball Redbird women's basketball Kristen Gillespie
Basketball Redbird men's basketball Dan Muller Cross Country Jeff Bone
Cross Country Jeff Bovee Golf Darby Sligh
Football [a] Redbird football Brock Spack Gymnastics [b] Bob Conkling
Golf Ray Kraals Soccer Brad Silvey
Tennis[c] Mark Klysner Softball Melinda Fischer
Track & Field (Indoor & Outdoor)[d] Jeff Bovee Swimming & Diving[e] Scott Cameron
Tennis Mark Klysner
Track & Field (Indoor & Outdoor)[d] Jeff Bovee
Volleyball Melissa Myers
  1. ^ The football team competes as a member of the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
  2. ^ The gymnastics team competes as a member of the Midwest Independent Conference.
  3. ^ The men's tennis team competes as a member of the Summit League.
  4. ^ a b The NCAA classifies indoor and outdoor track & field as two separate sports, holding national indoor championships in its winter season and outdoor championships in its spring season.
  5. ^ The NCAA classifies swimming & diving as a single sport.


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.

In 1923, athletics director Clifford E. "Pop" Horton and the Daily Pantagraph sports editor Fred Young collaborated to change the university's nickname from "Teachers." Horton wanted "Cardinals" because the colors were cardinal and white (set in 1895-69). Young changed the nickname to "Red Birds" to avoid confusion in the headlines with the St. Louis Cardinals. It took roughly 10 years for Red Birds to become one word. Since that time, Illinois State Athletics' fans have been enjoying the rich success that nearly all Redbird Athletics teams have enjoyed.

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

Athletics at Illinois State consists of 17 intercollegiate sports, having won 125 league titles in 23 years.[citation needed]

Today, 14 of the 17 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[edit]

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.[4] 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.[5] 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]

National Championships[edit]


Association Division Sport Year Opponent/Runner-Up Score
NCAA Division II Baseball (1)[6] 1969 Southwest Missouri State 12–0


Sport Year Champion
Wrestling 1967 Dick Irvin
Wrestling 1970 Eric Bates
Track & Field 1974 Dee Wilson
Track & Field 1987 Tom Smith
Track & Field 1988 Tom Smith
Track & Field 2002 Christian Goy
Track & Field 2011 Tim Glover
Track & Field 2012 Tim Glover


Men's Basketball[edit]

Missouri Valley Conference Titles

  • Regular Season: 1984, 1992, 1993, 1997, 1998, 2017
  • Conference Tournament: 1983, 1990, 1997, 1998

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

NIT Appearances: 1977, 1978, 1980, 1987, 1988, 1995, 1996, 2001, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2017

CBI Appearance: 2014

Women's Basketball[edit]

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

Women's Soccer[edit]

Missouri Valley Conference Regular Season Titles: 1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016

Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Titles: 2003, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016

NCAA Appearances: 2003, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016

  • 2016: W vs. Michigan (PKs), L vs. #3 Duke (1-3)

First season: 1996

All-Time Record: 225-145-37 (.600)

All-Time Missouri Valley Conference Record: 82-25-11 (.746)

10 Missouri Valley Conference Players of the Year


Missouri Valley Football Conference Championships: 1999, 2014, 2015

NCAA Division I Football Championship Playoffs: 1998, 1999, 2006, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016

FCS National Championship Game

Date played Location Champion Runner-Up
January 10, 2015 Toyota Stadium NDSU 29 Illinois State 27

Bowl Games

Date played Bowl Champion Runner-Up
November 23, 1950 Corn Bowl Missouri-Rolla 7 Illinois State 6
December 4, 1999 Pecan Bowl Illinois State 37 Hofstra 20
December 1, 2006 Pecan Bowl Youngstown State 28 Illinois State 21
  • 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 FCS record for the most tied football games with 66.[7]


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.[8] 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.[8]:23–24


Notable former athletes[edit]


Men's Basketball

Women's Basketball


Track & Field


  • Margie Wright - professional softball player, 33 years college head coach (27 at Fresno State), NCAA all-time winningest softball coach.[8]:23–24

Men's Golf


  1. ^ ISU Graphic Standards (PDF). January 1, 2009. Retrieved April 5, 2016. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Illinois State Athletics". Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  4. ^ Statement From Illinois State Athletics
  5. ^ Plane returning from NCAA title game crashes, killing 7 including Illinois State coach
  6. ^ "Division II Baseball Championship Results" (PDF). NCAA. Retrieved January 16, 2016. 
  7. ^ DeLassus, David. "Division I-AA All-Time Wins". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved April 12, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c Plummer, William; Floyd, Larry C. (2013). A Series Of Their Own: History Of The Women's College World Series. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States: Turnkey Communications Inc. ISBN 978-0-9893007-0-4. 

External links[edit]