Athletics Timeline

1860 - Founding of the Pioneer Cricket Club, the first organized sports activity on campus.

1864 - The University Baseball Club is established and the first organized baseball on campus begins.

1873 - Founding of the University Football Association and football becomes an organized sport, although informal student games were played as early as 1862.

1876 - Baseball Association formed, which later merges with the Football Association in 1878 to form the first student-controlled Athletic Association.

1879 - Michigan plays and wins its first intercollegiate football game, May 30, against Racine College at White Stockings Park in Chicago. 1

1882 - First intercollegiate baseball game, played against Wisconsin on May 20.

1882 - First African American to play baseball at UM, Moses "Fleetwood" Walker. 2

1889 - Charles Mills Gayley, lit. 1878, writes the words to "The Yellow and Blue." 3

1890 - First African American to play football at UM, George Jewett. 4

1890 - A formal University of Michigan Athletic Association is formed.

1893 - Board in Control of Athletics formed

1896 - University of Michigan Marching Band organized by a student director and begins playing at football games.

1898 - William R. Cunningham, med. 1899, is selected as Michigan's first All-American football player.

1898 - "The Victors" is written by Louis Elbel, a senior music student. 5

1899 - The nickname "Wolverine" applied to UM football teams first appeared in the Michigan Daily on November 11, 1899. 6

Fielding H. Yost

Fielding H. Yost

1901 Fielding H. Yost begins his long and remarkable term of service as football coach with his famous "Point-a-Minute" teams. 7

1902 - Barbour Gymnasium, a facility specifically for women's athletics, is completed. 8

1902 - Michigan appears in and wins the first Rose Bowl Game, January 1, defeating Stanford by a score of 49-0.

1905 - Women's Athletic Association formed

1908 - Palmer Field, an athletic field specifically for women, is purchased and equipped.

1911 - "Varsity" is written by Earl Moore, '12, and J. Fred Lawton, '11. 9

1912 - The Club house by Ferry Field, now the Marie Hartwig Building, is completed. 10

1913 - Department of Recreational Sports founded to "coordinate and promote participation in intramural, club and recreational sports among the student body, faculty and staff of the University of Michigan and to manage athletic facilities." 11

1924 - Yost Field House dedicated. 12

1927 - Michigan Stadium opens on October 1.

1927 - First and last year that live wolverines were paraded in cages at UM Stadium football games. 13

1938 - Herbert O. (Fritz) Crisler appointed head football coach and assistant director of athletics. 14

Tom Harmon

Tom Harmon, 1940

1940 - Tom Harmon, '41, wins Michigan's first Heisman Trophy. 15

1970 - IM building first opens to women

1974 - Intercollegiate varsity athletic program for Michigan women is established with the introduction of six varsity sports in the 1974/1975 school year. 16

1974 - First UM female cheerleaders. 17

1975 - All athletic facilities opened to both men and women. 18

1977 - "Let's Go Blue" written by Joseph Carl, a tuba player in the hockey pep band. 19

1981 - Women's athletic programs officially admitted into the Big Ten Conference. 20

Additional sites of interest:

Bentley Online Athletic Exhibits - Exhibits on individual sports, the Michigan Stadium story, the winged helmet, the fight song, History of UM vs. OSU, Michigan Athletic Hall of Fame, etc.

History of Women's Athletics - An exhibit on the history of women's athletics at the University of Michigan


The sources most frequently consulted for the timeline include The University of Michigan, an Encyclopedic Survey and The Proceedings of the Board of Regents. If any of the listed events on this page seem to be incorrect, or if you think an event should be added, please send the new information to the Bentley Reference Staff and provide citations for the sources where the new information was found.


All citations were taken from The University of Michigan, An Encyclopedic Survey Unless otherwise noted with a footnote below:

1. Bentley Football exhibit:

2. "History of Diversity at the University of Michigan: Important Dates and Events," January 12, 1999

3. A Book of Days: 150 Years of Student Life at Michigan. [researched and compiled by Nancy R. Bartlett, Kathleen A. Koehler ; edited by Noreen Ferris Wolcott ; designed by Kathleen S. Horn]. Ann Arbor, Mich. : Alumni Association of the University of Michigan, c1987.

4. "History of Diversity at the University of Michigan" (see no. 2)

5. A Book of Days (see no. 3)

6. Note from the Bentley Vertical File: Fimu F84 - Football History: 1883-1939

7. Bentley exhibit on the University of Michigan Football Coaches:

8. Some disagreement as to the exact date, other sources suggest 1898 or 1896. "Chronology of University of Michigan Buildings" and A Sporting Chance: Women's Athletics at the University of Michigan"

9. Michellaneous. [written by Jim Albright, designed by Tom Reineri]. Ann Arbor, Mich., Student Alumni Council, c1981.

10. "The Michigan Stadium Story: Ferry Field, 1906-1926":

11. History note, finding aid for the Department of Recreational Sports (University of Michigan) records 1913-1992, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.

12. "Chronology of University of Michigan Buildings"

13. "History of the Wolverine Mascot at UM," Campus Information Centers:

14. A Book of Days (see no. 3), and

15. A Book of Days (see no. 3)

16. A Sporting Chance: Women's Athletics at the University of Michigan"

17. "History of Diversity at the University of Michigan" (see no. 2)

18. "History of Diversity at the University of Michigan" (see no. 2)

19. Michellaneous. (see no. 9)

20. A Sporting Chance: Women's Athletics at the University of Michigan"