UCF Knights

UCF Knights

Infobox college athletics
name = UCF Knights

university = University of Central Florida
conference = Conference USA | division = Division I (FBS)
director = Keith R. Tribble
city = Orlando
state = Florida
stateabb = FL
teams = 16 (7 M, 9 W)
stadium = Bright House Networks Stadium
arena = UCF Arena
baseballfield = Jay Bergman Field
mascot = Knightro
nickname = Knights
fightsong = UCF Fight Song
color1 = Black
color2 = Gold
hex1 = 000000
hex2 = CC9900
pageurl = http://www.ucfathletics.com/
pagename = ucfathletics.com

The University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida features a large variety of intercollegiate athletics teams known as the UCF Knights that competes in NCAA's Division I. Part of the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly I-A), it is a member of Conference USA.

Men's sports include Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country Running, Football, Golf, Soccer, and Tennis.Women's sports include Basketball, Cross Country Running, Golf, Rowing, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Track and field, and Volleyball. Co-ed sports include Cheerleading.

Unlike some NCAA programs, women's sports programs at UCF do not have a gender-specific modifier in their mascot name. They are simply referred to as Knights just like the men's teams.


The UCF varsity athletic program originally began 1979, initially in Division III. It later moved to Division II in 1982 and Division I in 1990. Initially, UCF was a I-AA (FCS) college football school, and was independent until 1992 when it joined the Trans America Athletic Conference (TAAC) in all D-I sports except football, which remained independent. [Annual standings published in "Official NCAA Football Records Book", 1992-1996 editions] In 1996, UCF was advanced to I-A (FBS) in football, and initially was independent in football until becoming a football-only member of the Mid-American Conference in 2001, the same year the TAAC became the Atlantic Sun Conference. UCF joined Conference USA in all sports in 2005.

The sports teams were originally known as the "Knights of the Pegasus" since their first intercollegiate competitions in 1970. They switched to "Golden Knights" in 1993 as a solution to poor merchandise sales. [ [http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/college/knights/orl-ucf1307apr13,0,3607031.story?coll=orl-home-promo 'Golden' era ends for Knights] "Orlando Sentinel"] The mascot of the athletic teams is Knightro, a black knight with gold armor. The university has asked to be identified as UCF when being referenced as opposed to Central Florida. Television networks and other media outlets, most notably ESPN, have been slow to adopt this policy.

In 2007, UCF made major changes to its athletic program. A new "athletic village" on the north end of campus known as Knights Plaza was developed. It included new sports facilities such as a new arena connected to the existing UCF Arena and a new 45,000 seat football stadium known as the Bright House Networks Stadium, a new softball complex, and the only Division I indoor football practice facility in the state. This made UCF the first school to ever open a new stadium and arena at the same time, for the 2007-08 season. [ [http://ucfarena.com/ccupdate.htm Convocation Center Update] "UCF Arena"] It also includes Jay Bergman Field and UCF Track and Soccer Complex. The area was built in a downtown style with four towers of student housing including approximately 1000 beds, retail and restaurant areas, and a new pedestrian mall connecting the front of the new arena to the student union. To mark the start of the new era, the teams were renamed from the "Golden Knights" on May 4, 2007 to the Knights and new logos and football helmets were unveiled.

On April 26, 2006, UCF hired Keith R. Tribble, the Chief Executive Officer of the Orange Bowl Committee, to replace departed Athletic Director Steve Orsini, who took the same job at the Southern Methodist University, a C-USA rival. Before leading the Orange Bowl Committee, Tribble had been an associate AD at the University of Florida and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Varsity Sports


UCF has had some measure of success in football in its short NCAA history. It is the alma mater for NFL stars Daunte Culpepper and Asante Samuel, among others.

Don Jonas was the first head coach of the football team, initially hired on a volunteer basis in 1979. Gene McDowell took over as head coach and athletic director in 1985. During his tenure, the program was a I-AA playoff team in 1990 and 1993. In 1996, the program made its foray into Division I-A. After a cell phone scandal caused the resignation of McDowell, offensive coordinator Mike Kruczek was named head coach in 1998.

In 1998, Culpepper led UCF to its best season ever with a 9-2 record (with losses only coming to Purdue and Auburn).

In 2003, following a string of disappointments on and off the field, UCF relieved coach Mike Kruczek of his duties. Assistant coach and former player Alan Gooch finished out the dismal 3-9 season with losses to Mid-American Conference rivals Marshall and Miami (OH). The Marshall game marked UCF's first nationally televised home football game as it was aired on ESPN2.

In 2004, Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator George O'Leary was named UCF's head coach. This was a controversial hire on several fronts. O'Leary had previously been named head coach of the University of Notre Dame, but was relieved of his duties five days into his tenure after inconsistencies were found on his resume. UCF also paid O'Leary a hefty salary which upset many UCF professors who were in contract negotiations with the university administration at the time. O'Leary cleaned house, and in that rebuilding season, UCF did not record a single win as they went 0-11 in the worst season in school history.

In 2005, the team's luck changed when they defeated Marshall 23-13 to end the school's 17 game losing steak. UCF fans celebrated by storming the field and tearing down the goal posts. Students came back to the campus and celebrated further by jumping into UCF's Reflection Pond (a practice normally reserved for Spirit Splash), which is regarded as the central point on campus. UCF then went on to win eight out of the remaining nine games on their schedule, beating Memphis, Tulane, and Houston at home and Louisiana-Lafayette, East Carolina, UAB, and Rice on the road. Only Southern Miss defeated UCF in regular-season conference play in 2005. Their 7-1 conference record enabled UCF to win the 2005 Conference USA East Division championship. UCF progressed to the inaugural Conference USA Championship Game at their home stadium on December 3, 2005 where they suffered a 44-27 defeat against western division champion Tulsa, which went on to defeat Fresno State in the Autozone Liberty Bowl. On December 4, 2005 UCF accepted a bid to play in the Sheraton Hawaiokinai Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii on December 24, 2005 against the University of Nevada Wolf Pack. The Golden Knights ended up losing the game 49-48 in overtime due to a missed PAT that would have tied the game. UCF finished the season 8-5.

On May 24, 2006, UCF extended the contract for 10 years and increased his pay to $1M plus incentives per year after O'Leary, having engineered the third-largest turnaround in college football history, was targeted by larger programs. In 2005 O'Leary was chosen by "SportsIllustrated.com" for the coach of the year award and received votes for the larger Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year award.

O'Leary and the Knights followed up a surprising and successful 2005 season with a disappointing 4-8 year in 2006.

Fortunes seemed to have changed as the Knights moved into new facilities. In 2007, home games moved from downtown Orlando's Citrus Bowl to Bright House Networks Stadium, a new on-campus facility. The new stadium was inaugurated with a surprisingly close game as UCF gave the then-#6-ranked University of Texas Longhorns a scare, ultimately losing, 35-32, after leading early in the 4th quarter.cite news | url=http://scores.espn.go.com/ncf/playbyplay?gameId=272582116&period=0 | title=(6) Texas 35, UCF 32 Play-by-play | publisher="ESPNU.com" | date=September 15 2007 | accessdate=2007-09-15] On December 1, 2007, following a 6 game winning streak that allowed UCF to grab the Conference USA East Division Championship, UCF defeated Tulsa in a near-reversal of the 2005 Conference USA Championship Game 44-25, thereby gaining UCF's first ever Conference Championship title.

On April 30, 2008, the Postseason Football Licensing Subcommittee of the NCAA had given the okay to two of the three bowls that were proposed for addition to the 2008-2009 schedule. The games that were approved were the Congressional Bowl, to be played in Washington, D.C., and the St. Petersburg Bowl, to be played at Tropicana Field in the titular Florida city with both games scheduled for December 20th, 2008. Talks have begun for Bright House Network Stadium to host a bowl game for the following season in December of 2009.

Kevin Smith

In 2007, Kevin Smith led the UCF Knights to a 10-4 record (as they lost in the Liberty Bowl ). As of December 1, 2007 he has gained 2,448 rushing yards, second only to Barry Sanders in Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division 1-A) history. Surprisingly, he was not nominated for the Doak Walker Award for most outstanding running back. Among his accomplishments is being the only running back in the 2007 season to rush for more than 100 yards against the Texas Longhorns. He is a fan favorite, especially with Student Section at Brighthouse Networks Stadium. He is also a favorite among teammates, where his team-oriented attitude gains him much respect. On September 1, 2007 he scored an 80-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage against the NC State Wolfpack. He also broke his own record for longest play from scrimmage (87 yards) by a UCF player on 11/3/2007 against the Thundering Herd of Marshall.

In a recent ESPN article, Smith was reported as saying he will be returning for his senior season. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=3160016] . However, he later changed his mind, announcing on January 6 2008 that he would declare for the NFL Draft.cite news|url=http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/wire?section=ncf&id=3184329 |title=UCF's Smith turning pro, reversing decision from last month |author=Associated Press |publisher="ESPN.com" |date=2008-01-06 |accessdate=2008-01-10] He went with the first pick in the third round, to the Detroit Lions. In August of 2008, he was named starting running back for the Detroit Lions and will play his first regular season game with them on Sunday, September 7, 2008 at 1:00 PM against the Atlanta Falcons.

Men's basketball

UCF played its first intercollegiate basketball game before the team even had a nickname. In the Division II era, under Torchy Clark, UCF found great success including a DII Final Four appearance.

UCF has been a member of Division I since 1985, and has advanced to the NCAA tournament 4 times (94, 96, 04, 05), all under coach Kirk Speraw. UCF competed in the Atlantic Sun Conference (formerly called the Trans American Athletic Conference) from 1992 until 2005 when all sports joined Conference USA, and plays in the UCF Arena. UCF made their debut in the Conference USA Championship Tournament in the 2006 season, falling to Houston in the second round and closing out the season with the program's first losing record (14-15) since 2000-2001. The Knights made a huge turnaround in the 2006-07 season, finishing 2nd in conference play to Memphis with an overall record of 22-9.

UCF's men's basketball team played its first exhibition game in the expanded UCF Arena, an 86-78 win over the Saint Leo Lions, on November 3, 2007. Their first regular-season game in the expanded Arena was a 63-60 victory over Nevada on November 11. They will host the UConn Huskies on December 28. Their first home C-USA game will be against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane on January 11, 2008.


The baseball team is led by head coach, Terry Rooney who will enter his first season as head coach in 2009. Jay Bergman had been head coach since 1976. He has had a large amount of success in this position, leading UCF to Atlantic Sun Championships in 93, 95, 96, 97, 00, 01, 02, 04 and NCAA Regional Appearances in 89, 93, 95, 96, 97, 00, 01, 02, 04, and brought UCF to a national ranking of #8 in 2001. In honor of his long term success with the Knights, on February 3, 2001, UCF opened and dedicated Jay Bergman Field. However, UCF fired Jay Bergman on May 1, 2008 for sexual harassment towards a male equipment coach. It is unknown at this time whether UCF will retain Jay Bergman's name on their baseball stadium. For more information, see http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/orl-ucfcoach0308may03,0,2644358.story

Notable Baseball Alumni

* Chad Mottola, 1990-1992, Major League Baseball Player (1996-2006), last played for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2006.
* Esix Snead, 1996-1998, Major League Baseball Player (2002-2004), last played for the New York Mets in 2004.
* Mike Maroth, 1996-1998, Major League Baseball Player, (2002-2008), last played for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2008.
* Jason Arnold, 1998-2001, All-American Pitcher in 2001, All-time leader in appearances, relief appearances and saves. Second all-time in wins, strikeouts, and ERA. 2nd round draft pick by the New York Yankees in 2001. Member of the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame. Now the Head Baseball Coach at Cocoa High School. [ [http://ucfathletics.cstv.com/genrel/060906aab.html Five Chosen for the 2006 Class of the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame :: The induction ceremony will take place Oct. 12 ] ]
* Tim Barker, 1985-1986, 1985 Golden Spikes Award finalist, set NCAA national record with 142 hits and second all-time season record with 104 stolen bases in 1985. Member of the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame.


UCF has produced a number of soccer stars. Most notably, Michelle Akers. Akers was a founding player on the United States women's national soccer team from 1985-2000, helping them win the FIFA Women's World Cup in 1991 and 1999, and the 1996 Summer Olympics. Her career was so distinguished that Pelé named her among only two female players (along with teammate Mia Hamm) on the FIFA 100 list of the greatest living soccer players in 2004.

The men's program has developed midfielder Eric Vasquez, who made his professional soccer debut with the Columbus Crew Major League Soccer. Vasquez now plays for Miami F.C. in the United Soccer Leagues' First Division and the Orlando Sharks of the Major Indoor Soccer League. As well, former Knights Goalkeeper Ryan McIntosh initially signed a development deal with D.C. United of MLS. After a year with the D.C. United Reserve team, McIntosh signed with the Atlanta Silverbacks of USL Division One, where he lead the team to the league final. The Silverbacks ended up losing to the Seattle Sounders. Both players were a part of the 2004 Central Florida Kraze amateur soccer team that won the Premier Development League's championship by defeating the Boulder Rapids Resevers, 1-0 at the UCF soccer stadium.

Incidentally, Former UCF Men's Soccer Assistant Coach Justin Cook (now assistant coach at Tulsa) scored the game-winner of the match to secure the championship.


The UCF cheerleading squad has captured two national titles at the College Cheerleading and Dance Team Nationals, in 2003 and 2007. On March 10, the WE Original series Cheerleader U is coming back following the UCF cheerleaders to their trip to Nationals. Will they defeat the UK cheerleaders for the second time? Tune in every Monday at 10:30 central time.

UCF Fight Song

"UCF charge onto the field"
"With our spirit we’ll never yield"
"Black and Gold - Charge right through the line"
"Victory is our cry, V-I-C-T-O-R-Y"
"Tonight our Knights will shine!"
"U! C! F! Knights!"
"UCF, Let's Go Knights!"


External links

* [http://ucfathletics.cstv.com/ UCF Athletics official site]
** [http://ucfathletics.cstv.com/genrel/050407abn.html New logos of the Knights at official site]

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