NC State Traditions
Athletics at NC State began with football in 1892, a game between students from the North Carolina Agricultural and Mechanical College and the Raleigh Male Academy, on the grounds of what is now Pullen Park.
A&M's team colors were pink and blue. The coaches were professors who had to be convinced annually to coach the students about a game they barely knew themselves. The length of the first season was a single game, which A&M won 12-6.
From those humble beginnings, NC State University has been competing at the highest level of college athletics for more than a century, as a charter member of both the Southern Conference and, later, the Atlantic Coast Conference.
In 1927, the school won its first major conference football title, led by All-American and eventual College Football Hall of Fame inductee Jack McDowall. Basketball followed suit in 1929 with its first Southern Conference title. There were lean years for both football and basketball during the Depression and World War II, but in 1946 a man arrived in Raleigh who would ignite a passion across the Southeast for the little-followed sport of basketball.
That man, Everett Case, was hired straight out of the Navy, though he had previously been one of the most successful Indiana high school coaches, tying a record with five state championships at three different schools. Under his guidance, the Red Terrors/Wolfpack bulldozed its competition, Reynolds Coliseum was finally completed and the fire that still fuels Atlantic Coast Conference basketball was born.
In basketball, the Wolfpack has won two NCAA championships, made three trips to the Final Four and brought home 17 conference championship trophies. It has produced college basketball's greatest player, David Thompson, and introduced the college basketball tradition of cutting down the nets after significant victories. In football, the Wolfpack has been to 26 bowl games, beginning with the 1946 Gator Bowl, and won 11 South Atlantic, Southern and Atlantic Coast Conference championships.
Among the 32 football All-Americans are a pair of record-breaking quarterbacks, Roman Gabriel and Philip Rivers, both of whom defined passing offenses in college football. NC State also boasts the ACC's first-and-only No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick, Mario Williams in 2006.
NC State has been no less groundbreaking in women's athletics, thanks in part to Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame inductee Kay Yow, a North Carolina native who was hired in 1975 to initiate women's basketball, softball and volleyball programs. More than three decades, four ACC titles, one Final Four appearance and one Olympic gold medal later, Yow led the women's basketball program, maintaining the traditions begun by Case in Reynolds Coliseum. She served the school and courageously fought cancer until her death on Jan. 24, 2009.
Football was the school's first sport, but it was rarely successful until the ACC era, when a Penn State engineer named Earle Edwards was hired from Michigan State as the Wolfpack's head coach. Despite playing in Riddick Stadium, where he never had more than four home games per season because of its small and crumbling infrastructure, Edwards guided the Wolfpack to five ACC championships and was named ACC Coach of the Year four times, which is tied with Virginia's George Welsh for the most in league history.
His success led to the construction of Carter Stadium, which opened near the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in 1966. Thirty-three years later, the school partnered with the City of Raleigh, the State of North Carolina and the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes hockey club to build the state-of-the-art RBC Center, an arena with a capacity for nearly 20,000 fans for college basketball.
NC State athletes have won 29 individual NCAA and AIAW national champions: 10 in men's and women's outdoor track and field, seven in swimming, five in women's cross country, five in wrestling, one in platform diving and one in men's golf. The school has produced Olympic champions in swimming and dominated the sports of men's and women's cross country like no other in the ACC.
The nicknames have changed over the years, with the school's athletics teams being called the Farmer & Mechanics, the Aggies, the Techs and the Red Terrors. In 1921, a disgruntled football fan wrote in the school paper that the school's football players "acted like a wolfpack," and would never be a winner. The name stuck to the football team for a quarter century and was eventually adopted by all athletics teams in 1947.
Beginning in 2000, NC State made a commitment to upgrading its facilities, including the RBC Center, the home for men's basketball; Carter-Finley Stadium for football; Reynolds Coliseum for women's basketball, gymnastics, volleyball and wrestling; Doak Field for baseball and the Isenhour Tennis Center. NC State has also added the Dail Soccer Field and Dail Softball Stadium, both on-campus facilities.
NC State athletics was created with the goal of creating new champions and legends within the school's 23 varsity sports.