American Football Database
Idaho Vandals
University University of Idaho
Conference(s) Western Athletic (WAC)
FBS independent as of July 1, 2013
Big Sky (non-football) as of July 1, 2014
NCAA Division I - FBS
Athletics director Dr. Rob Spear
Location Moscow, ID
Varsity teams 16
Football stadium Kibbie Dome
Basketball arena Cowan Spectrum
Baseball stadium Guy Wicks
Mascot Joe Vandal
Nickname Vandals
Fight song Go, Vandals, Go
Colors Silver and Gold and black (unofficial)



The Idaho Vandals are the intercollegiate athletic teams of the University of Idaho. They participate in NCAA Division I - FBS (formerly I-A) in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC).

The football team will become an FBS independent for the 2013 season due to an upcoming major wave of departures from the WAC that will strip that conference of all of its football-playing schools. Idaho will return its non-football sports to one of the school's former conference homes, the Big Sky Conference, in July 2014.[1] Starting in 2014 they will return their football team to the Sun Belt Conference.

In addition to football, the intercollegiate athletic program fields two teams (men's and women's) in the following sports: basketball, golf, tennis, cross-country, and track (indoor and outdoor). Volleyball, soccer, and swimming are varsity sports offered only for women.

The university's official colors are silver and gold, honoring the state's mining tradition. Because these metallic colors in tandem are not visually complementary for athletic uniforms, black and gold are the prevalent colors for the athletic teams, with an occasional use of silver, similar to Colorado, whose official colors are also silver and gold. When Idaho moved out of the Big Sky to the Big West in 1996, the yellow "Green Bay" gold was changed to metallic "Vegas" gold.[2] Yellow gold and black were the colors used by the most of the varsity teams from 1978–96, initiated by first-year head football coach Jerry Davitch's new uniforms for 1978.

Conference affiliations

UI will leave the Western Athletic Conference in July 2013 after a large defection of members to different conferences. (The WAC dropped football after the end of the 2012-13 season.) The Vandals football team will be a FBS independent member for the 2013 season before joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2014, while the other teams will rejoin the Big Sky Conference after leaving in 1996.

UI joined the WAC in July 2005, moving from the Big West, which it had joined in 1996 to move back to Division I-A after 18 years in I-AA. Because the Big West discontinued football after the 2000 season, the UI was a "football-only" member of the Sun Belt for four seasons (2001–04).

Prior to July 1996, UI competed in the Big Sky Conference for 33 years; it was a charter member in 1963. The Big Sky has been a Division I-AA conference since I-AA's formation in 1978, but from 1963–77, the conference was a "college division" (later Division II) for football. Although a charter member of the Big Sky, Idaho maintained its "university division" (Division I) status, with its additional football scholarships, by playing a non-conference schedule of Division I teams. An exception came in August 1967, when the football program was involuntarily dropped to the college division for two seasons.[3] Idaho was elevated back to university status in July 1969[4] and continued as Division I when the three numbered divisions were formed in 1973. Five seasons later in 1978, the Vandals were dropped to the new Division I-AA, as the Big Sky moved up from Division II.

From 1922-58, Idaho competed with the original eight schools of the Pac-12 as a member of the Pacific Coast Conference. The PCC disbanded in the spring of 1959; Idaho competed as an independent for four years until the Big Sky was launched in 1963, though it did not play a conference schedule in football until 1965.[5]


Men's basketball


Track and field

Dan O'Brien, a hurdler on the UI track team in the late 1980s, won the gold medal in the decathlon at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, as well as multiple World Championships. He received his bachelor's degree in 1993, and the outdoor track and field stadium where O'Brien trained for these world titles was named for him in September 1996.

Joachim Olsen of Denmark, the 2004 Olympic bronze medalist in the shot put, competed for the Vandals from 1999–2003, winning the NCAA outdoor championship in 2000. He was a 10-time All-American and never finished worse than third in the shot put in eight career NCAA indoor and outdoor appearances.

Angela Whyte of Canada was a four-time NCAA All-American and five-time Big West champion at Idaho, where she helped lead the women’s team to 2001 and 2003 Big West team championships. She also earned Big West Female Athlete of the Year honors in 2001 and Big West Female Track Athlete of the Year honors in 2003. She was a member of Canada's 2004 and 2008 Olympic track teams.


Intercollegiate baseball was played at Idaho through the 1980 season. During the first six years of the Big Sky Conference, the Vandals won four titles, in 1964, 1966, 1967, and 1969, under two head coaches, Wayne Anderson[6] and John G. Smith.[7][8] Two of those teams, 1966 and 1969, advanced to within one round of the College World Series, falling in the District 7 finals, today's "Super-Regionals" (Sweet 16). The 1966 Vandals, led by senior pitcher Bill Stoneman with a 0.45 ERA, entered the post season with a 31-7 record. They traveled to Greeley and eliminated Colorado State and Air Force,[9] but then fell at Tucson to Arizona.[10][11] With newly-promoted head coach John G. Smith, the 1967 team won the Big Sky, but lost in the first round of the NCAA playoffs at Air Force. The 1969 team finished the regular season at 30-7 and 10-2 in the Big Sky.[12] Idaho swept two from Air Force at home in Moscow to advance,[13] then lost at Mesa to host Arizona State,[14][15][16] the eventual CWS champion.

The Big Sky expanded to eight teams in 1971, all with baseball, and split into two divisions with a three-game playoff to determine the champion.[17][18] The two Montana schools soon dropped the sport and Boise State was moved to the Northern Division with Idaho and Gonzaga for 1973.[19] In May 1974, the Big Sky announced its discontinued sponsorship of baseball (and four other sports).[20][21] Southern division champion Idaho State dropped their team weeks later[22] and three-time conference champion Weber State would follow. The three Northern division schools (Idaho, Boise State, Gonzaga) joined the new Northern Pacific Conference (NorPac) for the 1975 season. (The NorPac included the larger baseball programs in the Northwest outside of the Pac-8, including Portland State, Portland, Seattle U., Puget Sound, and later, Eastern Washington.)

Ken Schrom of Grangeville was selected in the tenth round of the 1973 MLB Draft as a high school senior, but opted for college. Also a quarterback for the football team, he pitched for the Vandals for three seasons until selected in the 1976 MLB Draft following his junior year.

After six seasons in the NorPac, both Idaho and Boise State discontinued baseball as a varsity sport following the 1980 season, citing budget constraints.[23]



The Kibbie Dome, home of the Idaho Vandals' football, basketball, track and field, and tennis teams.

The University of Idaho has numerous on-campus facilities for the athletic program.[24] The primary facility is the Kibbie Dome, a 16,000 seat indoor stadium for football, basketball, indoor tennis, and indoor track. Since 2001, massive black curtains have encircled the basketball seating configuration and the arena is called the "Cowan Spectrum," with a capacity of 7,000. Underneath the football turf is a five-lane, 290-metre (320 yd) track and nine tennis courts. East end additions to the Kibbie Dome house the athletic department offices, locker rooms, weight room, and training facilities. The Kibbie Dome's concrete grandstands opened in October 1971 upon the site of the wooden Neale Stadium (1937–68). (photo)[25] An outdoor stadium for four years, it was fully enclosed in 1975; its playing surface sits at an elevation of 2,610 feet (796 m) above sea level.[26]

The historic Memorial Gymnasium (1928) is the home for women's volleyball, and also hosts early season basketball games. South of the "Mem Gym" is the Swim Center and the P.E. Building (formerly the new "Women's Gym"), which houses practice gymnasiums; these facilities were completed in 1970. The Mem Gym formerly had a pool in its basement.[27][28]


Memorial Gym Tower

MacLean Field, the campus' original athletics area, was on these grounds, south of the Memorial Gym, with the spectators on the eastern embankment. (photo - 1921) Football was played here from 1914 until Neale Stadium opened in 1937; the baseball team called MacLean home for another three decades, until the construction of the College of Education building displaced the infield after the 1966 season.(aerial campus photo - circa 1940) Prior to 1940,[29] the baseball infield at MacLean was in the opposite (southwest) corner and lacked infield grass.[30][31][32] It was covered by the athletic field house in 1949,[33] which was razed following the enclosure of the Kibbie Dome in 1975.[34] The new baseball diamond was constructed at the north end of campus[35] and first used in April 1967,[36] and named for Guy Wicks in May 1969.[37]

Other outdoor facilities include the 18-hole championship UI Golf Course, directly south of the Kibbie Dome. The first nine holes debuted in 1937 and the second nine opened in 1970; the 1949 clubhouse[33] was replaced in 1969. West of the Kibbie Dome is the 400-meter (437.4 yd) outdoor track and field stadium, opened in early 1972 and named for newly-crowned Olympic champion decathlete Dan O'Brien in September 1996. A concrete grandstand at the finish line in the southeast corner seats approximately 1,000. The track complex was fully refurbished in 2011 and hosted the WAC outdoor championships in 2012.

In addition, there are outdoor athletic practice fields on the grounds directly east of the Kibbie Dome. Formerly, these grass fields were for varsity football practice only. SprinTurf (similar to FieldTurf) and lighting was installed in 2005 and the fields are now available for intramurals and general recreation. Six outdoor tennis courts are east of these fields, west of the P.E. Building, and four more are on the lower Administration Lawn. At the spacious northwest corner of campus is the Guy P. Wicks baseball field, soccer field, and intramural fields, named in 1969 for the Moscow High and UI graduate. Wicks (1902–68) was a Vandal baseball player in the early 1920s, a head coach in two sports in the 1940s, and later an associate dean of students.[37][38][39]


Idaho’s athletic teams go by a name earned nearly a century ago by a basketball team coached by Hec Edmundson, whose teams played defense with such intensity and ferocity that sports writers said they “vandalized” their opponents. The mark made by that 1917 team went far deeper than wins and losses on the court. In 1917, Harry Lloyd "Jazz" McCarty – a writer for the student newspaper, the Argonaut – tagged the team with a new nickname in a pregame write-up: "The opening game with Whitman will mark a new epoch in Idaho basketball history, for the present gang of 'Vandals' have the best material that has ever carried the 'I' into action." McCarty’s indirect suggestion stuck. By 1921, McCarty and Edward Maslin Hulme, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts, succeeded in their push to have Vandals officially adopted as the nickname for Idaho teams.[40]

The current mascot is Joe Vandal.


Washington State

Since returning to Division I-A status for football in 1996, Idaho has rekindled its rivalry with Washington State, eight miles (13 km) to the west in Pullman. The annual game, usually played at Martin Stadium in Pullman, was renewed in 1998 after just two meetings in two decades, and is referred to as the "Battle of the Palouse." The Cougars hold an immense advantage in the series (70-18-3 .786), but the Vandals did win back-to-back meetings in 1999-2000, following 14 straight Cougar victories from 1966-98. The last game played on the Idaho side of the border in this series was in 1966, a mudbath won by WSU. This game followed consecutive Idaho victories in 1964-65, which had been preceded by nine straight Cougar wins.[41] Two of the recent games played in Pullman (1999 and 2001) were designated as Idaho "home games" to help reach existing NCAA minimum attendance requirements. The 2004 game was a designated Idaho home game for revenue purposes.[42] The 2003 game was played in Seattle at Seahawks Stadium. The three games played in Pullman from 2005-07 were all WSU home games.

The last game in the series was played in 2007, a 45-28 WSU victory, their seventh straight over the Vandals. At the request of Vandals head coach Robb Akey, a former WSU assistant who became the Vandal head coach in 2007, the game will be played occasionally rather than annually. The next game is currently scheduled for the 2013 season.

Boise State

Boise is 300 highway miles (480 km) south of Moscow, and many UI students are from the Treasure Valley (greater Boise area), the major population area of the state. Idaho had a major in-state rivalry with Boise State since 1971; BSU joined the Big Sky in 1970 but the football teams did not meet that season. BSU and UI moved to Division I-AA in 1978 and to Division I-A in 1996, joining the Big West.

BSU was 8–2–1 in the first 11 meetings, including five in a row from 1977–81. Idaho immediately followed with 12 straight wins from 1982–93 and won 15 of 17 before Boise State began the last 12-game winning streak in 1999, in which BSU dominated the Vandals. The composite score for the most of the last dozen games was 613–213, an average BSU victory margin of over 33 points per game, which ranged from 14 to 58 points. Boise State won 13 of 15 games over Idaho since both teams moved up to Division I-A (now FBS) in 1996. Beginning in 2001, the winner of the football game was awarded the Governor's Trophy; Boise State won it every year.

Boise State left the WAC after the 2010 season and joined the Mountain West Conference, leaving no future for the football in-state rivalry. As of February 2013, the 2010 game was the last in the series and no future games are currently scheduled.


For most of its history, Idaho had an intense interstate rivalry with the University of Montana in Missoula, approximately 200 miles (320 km) east. The teams have met for football 84 times (second only to the 91 games with Washington State). Idaho and Montana first played in 1903, and played every year from 1914-95 (except during the war years of 1918 and 1943–44, when neither school had a team). Montana was also a member of the Pacific Coast Conference until 1950, and a fellow charter member of the Big Sky in 1963. Idaho leads the overall series 55-27-2 (.667), but Montana has dominated the rivalry since 1991.[43] The Idaho–Montana rivalry will be renewed as a conference rivalry in non-football sports when Idaho rejoins the Big Sky in 2014.

The teams have played just five times since Idaho moved back up to Division I-A in 1996, with the I-AA Montana Grizzlies winning the last four, most recently in 2003. Since the departure of Idaho, Boise State, and Nevada from the Big Sky to Division I-A in the 1990s, the Montana Grizzlies have been the dominant I-AA (now FCS) football program in the West.

The winner of the Idaho-Montana game claims the Little Brown Stein trophy.

Idaho State

Idaho and Idaho State have enjoyed a moderate rivalry since 1963, the year ISU became a university and both schools joined the new Big Sky conference as charter members. The schools are separated by a significant distance, Pocatello in southeastern Idaho is over 500 road miles (800 km) from Moscow. Idaho has traditionally been dominant in this rivalry, particularly in football. The football rivalry was most intense and equal in the 1970s and 1980s, but the teams have played sparingly since the Vandals left the Big Sky in 1996, with Idaho winning all four contests. They last met in 2008 in Moscow, with Idaho winning 42-27. Since 1988, the Vandals have won 11 of the last 12 meetings.[44] This is another rivalry that will be renewed as a conference matchup outside of football when Idaho returns to the Big Sky.

Athletic Directors

Name Years
Wilfred C. Bleamaster 1918–1920
Thomas Kelley 1920–1922
Matty Mathews 1922–1926
Charles Erb 1926–1928
Ralph Hutchinson 1928–1929
Leo Calland 1929–1935
Ted Bank 1935–1941
George Greene 1941–1950
Babe Brown (acting) 1943–1946
Gale Mix 1950–1954
Robert Gibb 1954–1960
Skip Stahley 1960–1964
John Thomas (acting) 1964–1965
Paul Ostyn 1965–1969
Ed Knecht 1969–1973
Leon Green 1973–1977
Bill Belknap 1977–1988
Gary Hunter 1988–1992
Pete Liske 1992–1996
Oval Jaynes 1996–1998
Mike Bohn 1998–2003
Rob Spear 2003–present
  • Before 1941, the head football coach was also the athletic director, except for the 1919 and 1928 football seasons.
  • Skip Stahley was the head football coach from 1954 through 1961, and held both positions for the 1960 and 1961 seasons.


  1. "Idaho To Return in 2014" (Press release). Big Sky Conference. October 19, 2012. Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  2. Lewiston Morning Tribune - '96 Vandals will sport new look - 1996-04-28 - p.6B
  3. "Ostyn says Pacific cost major status". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press: p. 15. August 9, 1967.,2583457.
  4. "NCAA ups 4 colleges". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press: p. 22. July 2, 1969.,291028.
  5. Idaho Historical Data
  6. "Anderson named Big Sky league coach of the year". Lewiston Morning Tribune: p. 17. June 3, 1966.
  7. "Colorful ex-Idaho coach dies". Spokesman-Review: p. C7. June 12, 1998.
  8. "Retired...but not retiring". (Moscow) Idahonian]: p. 6. February 17, 1987.
  9. "Arizonans next on Idaho list in bid for nationals". Tri-City Herald: p. 19. June 2, 1966.,402187&.
  10. "Arizona downs Idaho 3-2, Vandals victims of one-hitter". Lewiston Morning Tribune: p. 8. June 4, 1966.
  11. "Arizona Wildcats defeat Vandals". Lewiston Morning Tribune: p. 10. June 5, 1966.
  12. "Idaho wins Sky baseball championship with doubleheader sweep over Bobcats". Spokesman-Review: p. 13. May 20, 1969.
  13. "Vandals to face tough ASU nine". Spokane Daily Chronicle: p. 13. May 26, 1969.
  14. "Vandals Arizona-bound". Spokesman-Review: p. 13. May 29, 1969.
  15. "Vandals seeks to rebound". Spokane Daily Chronicle: p. 11. May 31, 1969.
  16. "ASU ekes out 3-2 win over Idaho". Spokesman Review: p. 2-sports. June 1, 1969.
  17. "Big Sky baseball: split loop planned". Spokane Daily Chronicle: p. 13. May 19, 1970.,710904&.
  18. "Vandals list baseball play". Spokane Daily Chronicle: p. 22. January 28, 1971.,3107367&.
  19. "Key games: Big Sky Conference". Spokane Daily Chronicle: p. 17. April 23, 1973.,2549181&.
  20. "Idaho off probation, loop titles dwindle". Lewiston Morning Tribune: p. 13. May 5, 1974.
  21. "Baseball axed in Big Sky". Lewiston Morning Tribune: p. 15. May 29, 1974.
  22. "Idaho (State) drops baseball". Ellensburg Daily Record: p. 9. June 5, 1974.
  23. "Baseball's 'out' at Idaho". Spokesman-Review: p. 19. May 13, 1980.,6845869&.
  24. Vandal Athletic Facilities - University of Idaho Athletics Official Site —
  25. "Fall Sports (fall 1947)". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1948. p. 282.
  26. - topo map - UI campus - accessed 2009-09-17
  27. "Swimming". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1960. p. 286.
  28. "Swimming". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1964. p. 270.
  29. "Baseball (spring 1940)". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1941. p. 308.
  30. "Baseball (spring 1939)". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1940. p. 184.
  31. "Baseball (spring 1936)". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1937. p. 214.
  32. "Baseball (spring 1935)". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1936. p. 124.
  33. 33.0 33.1 "Field House". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1949. p. 15.
  34. "aerial photo (c. Aug 1975)". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1976. p. 15.
  35. "aerial photo (c. 1965)". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1967. p. 268.
  36. "Baseball". Gem of the Mountains (UI annual). 1967. p. 252.
  37. 37.0 37.1 "Guy Wicks, former Idaho coach, administrator, dies in Georgia". Lewiston Morning Tribune: p. 14. January 17, 1968.,2480280.
  38. "Field named". Spokane Daily Chronicle: p. 11. May 24, 1969.
  39. "Idaho shades Air Force in opener". Spokesman-Review: p. 15. May 25, 1969.
  40. What is a Vandal?
  41. Idaho Game by Game against Opponents - Wash. St. - accessed 2009-09-16
  42. ESPN - Washington State 49, Idaho 8 - NCAA College Football Recap
  43. Idaho Game by Game against Opponents - Montana - accessed 2009-09-16
  44. Idaho Game by Game against Opponents - Idaho State - accessed 2009-09-16

External links