The University of Alabama has 21 varsity sports teams. Both the male and female athletic teams are called the Crimson Tide. They participate in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's (NCAA) Division I as a member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Western Division. In 2002, Sports Illustrated named Alabama the #26 best collegiate sports program in America. Athletics facilities on the campus include the 101,821-seat Bryant-Denny Stadium, named after football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant and former University President George Denny, the 15,316-seat Coleman Coliseum, and the renovated Foster Auditorium, Sewell-Thomas Stadium, the Alabama Soccer Stadium, Sam Bailey Track and Field Stadium, and Ol' Colony Golf Complex, the Alabama Aquatic Center, and the Alabama Tennis Stadium.
Alabama has won NCAA Division I national championships in the following varsity sports:
Main rivalries for the program include those with Auburn University and the University of Tennessee. The rivalry with the Auburn Tigers is especially heated, as the two compete annually in nearly all sports. The annual football meeting, nicknamed the Iron Bowl, is considered among the most intense college football rivalries, as well as one of the top rivalries in all sports—behind the New York Yankees–Boston Red Sox baseball rivalry according to Sports Illustrated and ESPN. Other rivalries include those against Mississippi State University (baseball and basketball)- (Alabama-Mississippi State rivalry), Louisiana State University (football)- (Alabama-LSU rivalry), the University of Mississippi- (Alabama–Ole Miss rivalry), the University of Florida (softball), and the University of Georgia (gymnastics).
University of Alabama law student William G. Little learned how to play American football while attending school in Andover, Massachusetts and began teaching the sport to fellow Alabama students in early 1892. Later in the year, the school formed an official team of 19 players, with Little as captain and E. B. Beaumont as head coach. Early newspaper accounts of Alabama football simply listed the team as the "varsity" or the "Crimson White" after the school colors. Headline writers then made popular the nickname "The Thin Red Line". It was not until 1907 that the name "Crimson Tide" was used to describe Alabama. The name was supposedly first used by Hugh Roberts, former sports editor of the Birmingham Age-Herald. Roberts coined the nickname to describe the 1907 Alabama-Auburn game, played in a sea of mud. Although Auburn was favored to win, Alabama played well in the red mud and held Auburn to a 6-6 tie.
Since then, the program has won 23 Southeastern Conference (SEC) championships and accepted 15 national championships. In addition to the championships claimed by the university, Alabama has been recognized by the NCAA as National Champions for the 1945, 1962, 1966, 1967, and 1977 college football seasons. However, those championships are not claimed by Alabama. On January 9, 2012, Alabama finished the season ranked #2 and beat #1 LSU 21-0 in the BCS Championship game to take the BCS national title. Although the NCAA only lists the Crimson Tide as having 12 national championships, the claim of 14 includes six championships from the period before 1950 that were retroactively claimed by Alabama.
The team has also made 58 bowl appearances throughout their history (an NCAA record), beginning with the 1926 Rose Bowl to, the most recent, the 2012 BCS National Championship Game. In those bowls, Alabama has a 33–22–3 record. Since 1913, Alabama has 98 first team All-Americans, 29 consensus. In 2009, Alabama also recorded their first Heisman Trophy winner, Mark Ingram, in the closest Heisman Trophy race.
Alabama's men's basketball program has a respectable tradition with numerous SEC Championships and players becoming NBA stars and international professional players. In the conference, it trails only Kentucky in basketball wins, SEC tournament titles, and SEC regular season conference titles. The men's basketball program has risen in stature nationally, achieving a No. 1 national ranking briefly in 2002. The Crimson Tide has become a regular conference basketball contender much as it was in the '80s under the direction of Coach Wimp Sanderson. Under head coach and former point guard Mark Gottfried, the Tide advanced to postseason play for six consecutive years, culminating with the team's advancement into the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history in 2004, where the team lost to eventual champion Connecticut in the Phoenix Regional Final.
In January 2009, Head Coach Mark Gottfried resigned after eleven years at Alabama. Soon afterwards Anthony Grant was hired as the new Head Coach. Under his watch the Crimson Tide battled through a tough first year, finishing 17-15 and achieving a top-10 ranking in points allowed on defense. Grant's second season with the Tide resulted in the SEC Western Division Championship, finishing 12-4 in the SEC and an overall record of 25-12. They entered the 2011 NIT Tournament with a #1 seed and made it to the NIT Championship Game and finished as the runner-up. The Crimson Tide was unbeaten at home with a perfect 19-0 season, a school record. In 2012 the Crimson Tide was a participant in the NCAA Tournament and finished its season with a 21-12 record.
Alabama's women's basketball team competes in Foster Auditorium. The team played its first game in 1974 and has since been a varsity sport. The team has had nine head coaches, including Rick Moody, who guided the club to the 1994 NCAA Women's Final Four. Kristy Curry was named head coach on May 11, 2013, replacing Wendell Hudson.
The Crimson Tide has appeared in 10 post-season Tournaments for the NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championship, including an eight-year streak of consecutive appearances in the tournament stretching from 1992 to 1999. In 10 NCAA tournament appearances, Alabama has advanced to the "Sweet Sixteen" six times and the "Elite Eight" and the "Final Four" in 1994. The most successful season was 1996-1997 when the Tide finished in second place in the Southeastern Conference (10-2 record) and had a mid-season national ranking of #2 in polls by the AP and USA Today (November 12, 1996), and finished with a 25-7 overall record. The University of Alabama Women's Basketball program shares the national record with Duke University for the most total points for both teams when Alabama defeated Duke 121-120 (in four overtimes) in 1995 in the NCAA Tournament, a game that ESPN has declared as one of the best all-time women's basketball tournament games. Seven former players for the University of Alabama have made rosters of teams of the WNBA. Alabama has had an active player in the WNBA through every year of its existence. The current head coach for the Crimson Tide is Kristy Curry. The team played its first season of 1974–75 in Foster Auditorium, but moved to what is now Coleman Coliseum the following season. After Foster Auditorium was extensively renovated in a project that began in 2009, the Tide returned to their original home on February 13, 2011.
Alabama has a long winning tradition in baseball. The Crimson Tide is second to LSU for the most SEC titles with 14 (including 13 regular season titles and one tournament title that was won in 1983, during an era in which the tournament decided the overall SEC title). Alabama is also second to the Tigers with seven SEC Tournament championships, including the 1983 one that decided the overall SEC title. Tide baseball teams have participated in the NCAA College World Series five times (1950, 1983, 1996, 1997, 1999), finishing second in 1983 (to Texas) and 1997 (to LSU). Home games are played at Sewell-Thomas Stadium, known as "The Joe" to Crimson Tide fans.
They are currently coached by head coach Mitch Gaspard, an assistant for two different stints under his predecessor, Jim Wells, and assistant coaches Andy Phillips and Dax Norris, both of whom played for Crimson Tide College World Series teams in the 1990s.
The Alabama softball team was started in 1997. They are currently coached by head coach Patrick Murphy and assistant coaches Alyson Habetz and Stephanie VanBrakle. They have won six Southeastern Conference championships (two regular seasons and four tournaments), made 13 consecutive NCAA tournaments (every year since 1999) and have advanced to the Women's College World Series 8 times, including back-to-back 3rd place finishes in the 2008 and 2009 series. On June 7, 2012, Alabama became the first team in SEC history to win the WCWS Championship defeating Oklahoma in three games. The team's current overall record stands at 708–224 (.759). Alabama has won the SEC Softball Tournament five times (1998, 2003, 2005, 2010 and 2012).
Alabama's men's and women's golf teams have become two of the top programs in the nation since head coaches Jay Seawell (men) and Mic Potter (women) took over in the 2002 and 2006 respectively. They have combined to make the NCAA Tournament 13 out of 14 chances since they arrived, and have each lead their teams to a Southeastern Conference Championship. Overall the Crimson Tide golf teams have combined to make the NCAA Tournament 31 times, won the SEC Championship 3 times, and have had over 30 players honored as All-Americans. The men's golf program finished 6th in the nation in 2007 while being consistently ranked in the top three in the 2007–2008 season. The home course for the Tide has been the Ol' Colony Golf Complex since 2005.
In 2012, the Crimson Tide has two of the best teams in the country with the women ranked #1, and men ranked #4, by Golf Week. The women's golf team won their first national title in 2012 while the men finished as the national runner-up.
On June 2, 2013, the Alabama men's golf team won their first NCAA national title after defeating Illinois in title match.
The women's gymnastics squad at The University of Alabama first competed in 1975. The squad did not have a winning season until the arrival of Sarah Patterson in 1979. In the intervening 33 years under Patterson and her husband David, the squad has won 6 national championships, 7 SEC championships, 26 regional titles, and 248 All-American honors. It has placed in the top 5 at the NCAA Championships 25 of the past 29 years and won national championships six times: in 1988, 1991, 1996, 2002, and most recently won back to back titles in 2011 and 2012. Alabama has also won 7 SEC Championships including 1988, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2003, 2009, and 2011. The gymnastics squad also hosts an annual fundraiser for breast cancer, where the crowd is encouraged to "Think Pink" and support the cause by turning out in pink clothing. As of the 2009 fundraiser, the effort had raised in excess of $750,000.
Gymnastics meets have an average attendance of over 13,000 at Coleman Coliseum. Meets against the team's arch-rival, the University of Georgia Gymdogs, often sell out. Alabama holds seven of the eleven NCAA records for the largest gymnastics crowds of all time, including an attendance of 15,162 fans on January 20, 2006. Alabama's gymnastics team competes in Coleman Coliseum.
The Crimson Tide's Men's Track and Field Program has produced numerous individual National Champions, including Calvin Smith, the former world record holder in the 100m dash, Jan Johnson (pole vault), Gary England (shot put), Jeff Woodard (high jump), William Wuycke (1000 yards and 1000 meters), Emmit King (100 meters), Keith Talley (55-meter and 100-meter hurdles), Andrew Owusu (long jump), Miguel Pate (long jump and NCAA national record), Mats Nilsson (javelin), David Kimani (3000 meters indoor and 5000 meters), Kirani James (400 meters), and the 4 X 100 meter Relay Team of Richard Beattie, Brad McQuaig, Eduardo Nava, and Clive Wright, and the Mile Relay Team of Joe Coombs, Darroll Gatson, Tony Husbands, and Ike Levin.
Individual National Champions from the Crimson Tide Women's Track and Field Team have included Disa Gisladottir (high jump), Iris Gronfeldt (javelin), Lillie Leatherwood (400 meters), Liz McColgan (formerly, Lynch) (mile), Pauline Davis-Thompson (200 meters), Flora Hyacinth (triple jump). Many of the track and field athletes at the University of Alabama have been Olympians.
Coach Dan Waters is the head coach for both the men's and women's track and field program, assuming the position in 2012. The University hosts the Alabama Relays and the Crimson Classic annually, which brings many of the top programs in the country to compete at the University's Sam Bailey Track and Field Stadium, built in 1975 with seating for 4500 fans. The renovation project occurring in 2012 is destined to make Alabama's track and field stadium among the best in the nation, with a track that is expected to be among the fastest in the nation due to its premier surface and wider curves.
Women's soccer was a varsity sport from 1986 to 1988, and was revived in 1994. Former Head Coach Don Staley had been with the program since 1994, but stepped down at the end of the 2007 season. He was replaced with former Clemson University head coach Todd Bramble. The team has won the SEC West three times (1995, 97, 98) and participated in the NCAA Women's Soccer Championship in 1999 and 2011. In 2005, senior Libby Probst earned third team All America honors and the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year award after breaking almost every major offensive record in her career at "The Capstone". The team currently plays its home games at the Alabama Soccer Stadium.
The Alabama women's volleyball is coached by Ed Allen, who was hired on January 10, 2011. The team has competed in the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship in 2005, 2006, and 2007. The team won the SEC Western Division Championship in 2000 and 2004, and was the SEC Volleyball Tournament Runner-up in 2005. In 2000, the Alabama Volleyball team achieved the nation's best team-GPA among Division I Volleyball teams. Past coaches for Alabama Volleyball have included Stephanie Schleuder, Dorothy Franco-Reed, and Judy Green. The venue for the Crimson Tide's home volleyball games is Foster Auditorium.
Men's and Women's tennis at the University of Alabama have built a tradition of excellence and enjoy competing in the Roberta Alison Baumgardner Indoor Tennis Facility, and the University of Alabama Tennis Stadium, which has won an award from USTA for being among the most excellent tennis facilities in the nation, and has been selected as the host site for regional tournaments by the NCAA in 2012 and 2013. In the 1960s, Roberta Alison became Alabama's first female athlete when she joined the men's team and occasionally played the #1 and #2 positions. She went on to win American Women's collegiate Championships in 1962 and 1963 for singles, and 1963 in doubles. Today the Alabama Tennis program hosts the Roberta Alison Fall Tennis Classic each year to honor her.
Alabama men's tennis began in 1949 with the coach, Lee Shapiro. Through the years, additional coaches have developed Alabama's program, including C. de la Manardiere (1951-1953, 1956); Rafael de Valle (1954-1955 and 1958-1960); Dr. Eugene Lambert (coach) in 1957; Jason Morton (1961-1964); Earl Baumgardner (1965-1966); Bill Mallory in 1967; Dale Anderson (1968-1969); Bill McClain (1970-1977); Armistead Neely (1978-1982); Tommy Wade (1983-1988); John Kreis (1989-1994); Joey Rive (1995-1997); Adam Steinberg (1998-2002); Billy Pate (2003-2012), and the current head coach, George Husack, 2013.
The Men's Tennis Team has been a participant in the NCAA tournament 17 times: 1989, 1990, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2013, as well as having 33 singles qualifying and 17 doubles qualifying for the NCAA Tournament. Alabama's All-Americans include Jeff Robinson (1976, 1977), Andy Solis (1984, 1985), Gregg Hahn (1985, 1986), John Stimpson (1990), Francisco Rodriquez (1998, 1999), Maxim Belski (2001), Clinton Ferriera (1986, 1989), Ellis Ferriera (1989, 1990, 1991), Rick Witsken (1991, 1993), and Juan Carlos Bianchi (1993). Additionally Stephen Mitchell went professionally, and Konstantinos Efraimoglou was an Olympian in tennis in 1992. Ellis Ferreira became the Champion at the 2000 Australian Open in men's doubles and 2001 Australian Open in mixed doubles. Davis Cup participants have included Juan Carlos Bianchi and Francisco Rodriguez.
Alabama's women's tennis team began in 1975, although Roberta Alison competed individually through the men's team years earlier. Coaches for the Crimson Tide Women's tennis team include Jean Mills (1975-1978), Mark Heinrick (1979-1980), Lewis Lay in 1981, Peter Heffeman (1982-1984), Karin Gaiser (1985-1993), Jim Tressler (1994-1997), Michelle Morton in 1997, and the current coach, Jenny Mainz (1998-2013). Coach Jenny Mainz was named in 2013 as the National Coach of the Year after her team reached the Round of 16 and had a singles player and a doubles team to both reach the national semifinals.
All-Americans for the Crimson Tide women's tennis team include Titia Wilmink (1993), Marouschka van Dijk (1993), Baili Camino (1997), Robin Stephenson (2005), Alexa Guarachi (2013), and current player Mary Anne Macfarlane (2012, 2013). The Crimson Tide Women's team has sent 17 qualifiers for the NCAA Singles Tournament and 12 doubles teams as of 2013. The Tide competed as a team in the NCAA Tournaments of 1993, 1997, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2013, a year that produced the best results in program history with a Sweet 16 appearance.
Notable seasons in the history of Alabama Tennis include 1972 (27-7 record for the men's team) 1976 (SEC Championship for the men's team) 1983 (20-4 record for the men's team, #14 national ranking, 2nd in the SEC) 1987 (20-8 record for the men's team, #19 national ranking) 1989 (18-8 record for the men's team, #11 national ranking) 1993 (19-5 record for the men's team, #9 national ranking, 3rd in SEC, NCAA Sweet Sixteen) 1993 (17-7 record for the women's team, #20 national ranking, 4th in the SEC) 2007 (22-8 record for the men's team, #14 national ranking, NCAA Sweet Sixteen) 2009 (21-8 record for the men's team, #16 national ranking) 2011 (16-7 record for the women's team, #28 national ranking, 4th in the SEC) 2012 (18-5 record for the women's team, #11 national ranking, 2nd in the SEC) 2013 (21-6 record for the women's team, #9 national ranking, NCAA Sweet Sixteen)
Women's rowing is the most recent addition to Alabama's list of varsity athletics. Mal Moore announced the addition of Alabama's 21st varsity sport in October 2005. The women's rowing team became the newest varsity sport at The University of Alabama in Fall 2006. The team was added due to the NCAA's Title IX and allows for 20 full scholarships. Taking only girls who had previously rowed for the Alabama Crew Club (est. 1987) and other walk-ons, Head Coach Larry Davis built the program from the ground up. In the first year of competition (2006–2007), the Tide defeated the University of Cincinnati, Creighton University, and Murray State University and also won medals at the Head of the Chattahoochee and the Head of the South.
The second year (2007–2008) of competition surprised many as the Varsity 8 went on to win silver medals at the prestigious Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, MA and also the Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The Tide again medaled at the Chattanooga Head Race and the Head of the South and recorded several match race victories against Southern Methodist University, Creighton, Murray State, Drake University, and the University of North Carolina. The team also landed three boats in the top 10 of their categories at the Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia.
Within two years, the team has had 25 athletes earn SEC Academic Honor Roll honors and 16 earn Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association Scholar-Athlete awards. For the 2007-2008 school year, Women's Rowing won the team service award by posting the most number of community service hours (over 1500) out of all women's sports at Alabama. Nationally, the Alabama women's rowing team has won both silver (in 2007) and bronze (in 2009) medals in the women's championship 8+ category at the Head of the Charles regatta in Boston.
Additional varsity sports at the University include swimming and diving, and cross-country. The University supports both men's and women's programs in all of these sports. The school has had individual success in all of these sports, including Vladislav Polyakov winning national titles in the 200-meter men's breaststroke in 2005 and 2007.
The University also has two cheerleading squads (The "Crimson Squad" and "White Squad") and a dance team known as the Crimson Cabaret who compete annually at the UCA/UDA College Nationals. The Cheerleading squad won 2011 College Cheerleading National Championship.
The University of Alabama through University Recreation also fields a number of club sports of varying degrees of competitiveness, though most compete only with other teams from the southeastern part of the country. The club sports include men's soccer, rugby, wrestling, lacrosse, men's volleyball, ice hockey, team handball, water polo, men's rowing (crew), cricket, cycling, disc golf, racquetball, table tennis, triathlon, ultimate frisbee, wheelchair basketball, water skiing, and bass fishing. The Crimson Tide's Water Skiing Team, Racquetball Team, and Wheelchair Basketball teams have the distinction of being among the nation's best, with national championships achieved by each of these teams.
Men's Ice Hockey team known as the Frozen Tide competes intercollegiately in Southeastern Collegiate Hockey Conference (SECHC) of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) at the ACHA Division III level. Since 2006, Bama Hockey and the Frozen Tide has hosted sporting events for the Greater-Birmingham area at the Pelham Civic Center.
The men's lacrosse team competes in the SouthEastern Lacrosse Conference of the Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association at the Division I level. The team plays at the University Recreation Fields and is currently coached by Michael Walker. The team was founded by Steven Shipowitz in the early 1980s. The Crimson Tide made their first appearance in the SELC Tournament in 2012, losing to the Florida State Seminoles 22-9 in the quarterfinals. The team briefly played in the Atlantic Coast Lacrosse Association in 2001, hosting the league tournament that season.
Founded in 1973, Alabama Rugby is the oldest ongoing club sport at the University of Alabama. Alabama rugby today competes in the Southeastern Collegiate Rugby Conference against its traditional SEC rivals. Alabama finished second in the west division of the conference in 2012.
Alabama has student-athletes who have exceled in the classroom as well as on the field. The University of Alabama is eighth in the nation for the number of Academic-All Americans since 2000 from all universities in the United States. Among Division I BCS schools in the southeastern United States, the University of Alabama is at the top of the list with the greatest number of Academic All-Americans since the year 2000.
Each of the University of Alabama's 21 varsity athletic teams scored significantly above the national standard of 925 in the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate (APR) of 2012. 14 Crimson Tide teams achieved scores equal to or above the national Division I average for the particular sport, and 2 teams achieved "perfect" APR scores, which placed them in the highest percentile in the nation.