Western Illinois Leathernecks
University Western Illinois University
Conference(s) The Summit League
NCAA Division I
Athletics director Tim Van Alstine
Location Macomb, IL
Varsity teams 16
Football stadium Hanson Field
Basketball arena Western Hall
Nickname Leathernecks
Fight song
Colors Purple and Gold


Homepage Official Athletics Website

The Western Illinois Leathernecks are the teams and athletes that represent Western Illinois University, located in Macomb, Illinois, in NCAA Division I sports. The school's primary conference affiliation is with The Summit League; its football team is a member of the Division I FCS (formerly Division I-AA) Missouri Valley Football Conference. Since the fall semester of 2009, the men's and women's teams have been unified under the Leathernecks name;[1] previously, the women's teams and athletes at the school had been known as the Westerwinds.

WIU's nickname, the Leathernecks, and its mascot, the English bulldog, are taken from the traditions of the United States Marine Corps. The university has had permission to use the official nickname and mascot of the Corps since 1927, when Ray Hanson, then-athletic director and coach of the baseball, basketball and football teams, gained permission to use the symbols as a homage to his service in that military branch during World War I.[2] Western Illinois University is the only non-military university to use a military nickname.[2] WIU is also one of the three major state universities in Illinois to employ a dog as its mascot (the others being the SIU Salukis and the NIU Huskies).

Men's basketballEdit

The Leathernecks basketball team team has never played in the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament. The coach since March 11, 2008 has been Jim Molinari.

From 1954 to 1963 the Leathernecks appeared in the NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament. Although never winning the National Title, the Leathernecks did walk away with national runner-up titles, and third place finishes.


The football program has had several NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) playoff appearances. They play in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Coach Mark Hendrickson was fired on November 20, 2012.[3]

Western Illinois has been ranked number one once and ranked number two numerous times. The two best chances for an FCS championship were in 1997, when they lost to runner-up McNeese State by two points and beat the FCS champion Youngstown State (coached by Jim Tressel at the time) during the regular season. In 2002, WIU beat national champions Western Kentucky during the regular season 14-0 and lost to that same team at home 31-28 after a missed 63-yard field goal attempt by Mike Scifres that fell just short. In 2010, WIU quarterback Matt Barr, was nominated for the 2010 Walter Payton Award.

Bowl gamesEdit

Season Bowl Champion Runner-up
1949 Corn Bowl Western Illinois 13 Wheaton 0
1953 Corn Bowl Western Illinois 32 Iowa Wesleyan 0
1955 Corn Bowl Luther 24 Western Illinois 20
1956 Corn Bowl Western Illinois 21 Bradley 3
1997 Pecan Bowl McNeese State 14 Western Illinois 12
1998 Camellia Bowl Western Illinois 24 Florida A&M Rattlers 21
2003 Pecan Bowl Colgate 28 Western Illinois 27

Note: Since 1981, the NCAA Division I FCS Playoffs Regional Championships were commonly referred Pecan Bowl (Midwest Region Championship) and Camellia Bowl (West Region Championship).


The baseball program was coached by Stan Hyman until his sudden death from leukemia in September 2009.[4]

The Leathernecks are one of the few mid-major teams to play every team in the Big 12 Conference. The program's three biggest wins were a 5–4 win over #18 Oklahoma in 2004; a 3–0 win over #7 Long Beach State in 2008; and a 5–3 win over #4 Missouri, also in 2008.

Notable alumniEdit


  1. University Relations (2009-06-05). "University comes to decision on nickname unification". Western Illinois University. Retrieved 2009-06-08.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "The Leatherneck Nickname". Western Illinois Athletics. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
  3. "Western Illinois football coach won't return". The Register-Mail. GateHouse News Service (Galesburg). November 20, 2012. Retrieved December 01, 2012.
  4. Western Illinois Athletics (2009-09-05). "Baseball coach Stan Hyman passes away at age 50". Western Illinois University. Retrieved 2009-09-29.

External linksEdit

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