The William & Mary Tribe college football team has represented The College of William & Mary in intercollegiatecollege football competition since 1893. The team has competed in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I since its formation in 1973. From 1956 to 1972 William & Mary competed in the NCAA University Division. William & Mary fielded its first intercollegiate football team during the 1893 season. Between 1896 and 1908 the team's nickname was "Orange and White," derived from the school's former colors (William & Mary now uses green and gold). Since white uniforms dirtied too quickly, they became known as the "Orange and Black" from 1910 through 1916. Between 1917 and 1977 they were known as the Indians, and throughout this period a man dressing up as a Native American would ride around on a pony along the sidelines during games. This practice was discontinued when the outcry of stereotyping Native Americans as well as the use of a live animal became controversial. Since the 1978 season William & Mary has adopted the nickname "Tribe."
Despite having over 500 wins in its history, William & Mary football has never won a national championship. The Tribe have been to the FCS/I-AA playoffs nine times through 2011 but have never reached the national championship game; twice they have reached the semi-finals. William & Mary has won bowl games, however. They defeated Oklahoma A&M in the 1949 Delta Bowl, 20–0, and also won two Epson Ivy Bowls in the 1990s. Seven different coaches have coached the Tribe to conference titles. Interestingly, Thomas Dowler, in his lone season at the helm, guided William & Mary to the Virginia Conference championship in 1935. Not surprisingly, Jimmye Laycock has the most all-time titles with four, plus a divisional championship which was won in 1993.