The Northwestern Wildcats are the athletic teams that represent Northwestern University, a founding member of the Big Ten Conference and the only private university in the conference. Northwestern has eight mens and eleven womens Division I sports teams, the mascot is Willie the Wildcat. The athletic director is former Northern Illinois University Athletic Director Jim Phillips, northwesterns athletic teams are nicknamed the Wildcats. Before 1924, they were known as The Purple and unofficially as The Fighting Methodists, the team was also referred to in the article as a Purple wall of wildcats. The name was so popular that university board members made Wildcats the official nickname just months later, in 1972, the student body voted to change the official nickname from Wildcats to Purple Haze but the new name never stuck. Northwestern is a member of the Big Ten Conference. Ever since the University of Chicago dropped out in 1946, Northwestern has been the private institution in the conference. At only 8,200 undergraduates, it is by far the smallest, the second-smallest school, Iowa, is almost three times as large as Northwestern, at 21,000 undergraduates. Currently, Northwestern fields 19 intercollegiate athletic teams in addition to club sports. Current successful athletic programs include football, mens soccer, wrestling, mens swimming, mens golf, womens tennis, softball, fencing, the womens lacrosse team is the six-time NCAA national champion, and went undefeated in 2005. The 1930–31 Wildcats were retroactively named national champions by both the Helms Athletic Foundation and the Premo-Porretta Power Poll, the Northwestern Athletics mascot is Willie the Wildcat. However, the teams first mascot was not Willie, but a live, in fall 1923, Furpaw was driven to the playing field to greet the fans before each game. After a losing season, the team decided that Furpaw was the harbinger of bad luck and banished him from campus. Willie made his ten years later in 1933 as a logo, but did not actually come to life until 1947. The Northwestern University Marching Band performs at all football and lead cheers in the student section. The football team became embroiled in a different betting scandal later that year when federal prosecutors indicted four former players for perjury related to betting on their own games, in August 2001, Rashidi Wheeler, a senior safety, collapsed and died during practice from an asthma attack. In 2006, the Northwestern womens soccer team was suspended and coach Jenny Haigh resigned following the release of images of alleged hazing, during football games, students jingle their car keys before every kickoff and punt. When Northwestern is on defense, students extend their arms, make a claw with their hands, the official cheer at Northwestern sporting events is the chant Go U
Ryan Field, Northwestern's 49,000 seat football stadium
The Northwestern University "Wildcat" Marching Band forms the "Sculpted N" and performs "Go U Northwestern!" to close its pregame performance at the 2005 Sun Bowl under the direction of Daniel J. Farris.