The San Francisco Dons is the nickname of the athletic teams at the University of San Francisco (USF). The Dons compete in NCAA Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) as members of the West Coast Conference (WCC), of which USF is a charter member.
|San Francisco Dons|
|University||University of San Francisco|
|Conference||West Coast Conference|
|Athletic director||Joan McDermott|
|Location||San Francisco, California|
|Basketball arena||The Sobrato Center|
|Baseball stadium||Dante Benedetti Diamond at Max Ulrich Field|
|Soccer stadium||Negoesco Stadium|
|Other arenas||California Tennis Club|
Peacock Gap Golf Club
The Olympic Club
|Fight song||"Victory Song"|
|Colors||Green and Gold|
Athletics at USF dates back to its founding in 1855, when founder Anthony Maraschi, S.J. organized ball games as recreation for the first students. However, intercollegiate competition only dates back to 1907, when then-Saint Ignatius College began playing organized baseball, basketball, and rugby against other local colleges and high schools. Rivalries with neighboring Santa Clara University and Saint Mary's College of California have their origins in this early period.
Teams were originally known as the "Grey Fog", and red and blue were Saint Ignatius College's colors. However, as the college began to develop an identity distinct from the high school—the college became the University of San Francisco in 1930—it adopted green and gold as its colors in 1927 and chose the Don as its mascot in 1932. The old Saint Ignatius High School later became Saint Ignatius College Preparatory and retained the red and blue colors.
|Men's sports||Women's sports|
|Cross country||Cross country|
|Track and field†||Track and field†|
|† – Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor|
2005 was a banner year for the baseball program, as the Diamond Dons finished with a 38–18 record (the best in team history), placed eight players in the all-conference team and earned Nino Giarrantano coach of the year honors. This was followed in 2006 with a 38–21 record, the WCC conference regular season championship, and a Top 25 ranking. However, USF lost in the WCC conference championship to Pepperdine but still was given an at large berth into their first ever postseason. USF did not advance in the tournament as they were beaten by the University of Miami, and Manhattan College.
Future major leaguer Aaron Poreda pitched for the Diamond Dons, finishing his freshman 2005 season with a 2.16 ERA, the fifth-lowest in team history and third-best in the WCC, and his hits-per-9-innings ratio of 6.48 was second-best in the conference. In 2006 he posted a WCC-best 2.49 ERA. In the NCAA regional he pitched the team to a 5–1 victory over No. 6 national seed Nebraska. Poreda was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the first round (25th overall) in the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft; at the time, he was throwing a 97 miles per hour fastball.
Nino Giarrantano became head coach in 1998, previously serving as hitting coach at Arizona State University. Giarrantano was named 3-time JC National Coach of the Year and 2005–2006 WCC Coach of the Year. Since arriving at USF, the team has had its best four-year stretch in its program's history, 104-69 overall since 2004.
|San Francisco Dons baseball|
|Conference Titles (2)|
The Dons' home field is named after Dante Benedetti, USF's head coach from 1962 to 1980. Benedetti attended then-Saint Ignatius College from 1937 to 1940, during which he lettered in Baseball, Football, and Boxing. During his tenure as head coach, he accumulated 373 career wins, and has been inducted into the university's athletic hall of fame. Also during his tenure as head coach, the university wanted to cut the program for financial reasons. However to keep the program alive Benedetti agreed to lower his salary. For the remaining 16 years of his coaching career he was paid $1 a year.
The field is also named after Max Ulrich, a benefactor of the University of San Francisco.
Since 2006, USF has played one game a season at the San Francisco Giants' Stadium, Oracle Park. The proceeds of the game go to the Dante Benedetti Foundation, a charity that helps under-privileged youth in San Francisco play and learn the game of baseball.
Over the years of USF's baseball tradition, a number of players have been drafted into professional baseball. Of these players, a few have had debuts in the Major Leagues:
|Player||Years at USF||MLB Debut|
|Joe Giannini||1908–1911||July 8, 1911|
|Clarence Fieber||1932–1932||May 18, 1932|
|Ernie Sulik||1929–1955||April 15, 1936|
|Jake Caulfield||1937–1940||April 24, 1946|
|Neill Sheridan||1940–1944||September 19, 1948|
|Con Dempsey||1942–1944||April 28, 1951|
|Paul Schramka||1947–1950||April 14, 1953|
|Stan Johnson||1956–1960||August 18, 1960|
|Aaron Pointer||1960–1961||September 22, 1963|
|Mike Buskey||1968–1971||September 5, 1977|
|Justin Speier||1992–1993||May 27, 1998|
|Jermaine Clark||1995–1997||April 3, 2001|
|Joe Nelson||1993–1996||June 13, 2001|
|Jesse Foppert||1999–2001||April 14, 2003|
|Jeff Harris||1995–1995||April 2, 2005|
|Aaron Poreda||2005–2007||June 12, 2009|
|Scott Cousins||2004–2006||September 3, 2010|
|Bradley Zimmer||2012–2014||May 16, 2017|
|Adam Cimber||2013-2013||March 29, 2018|
USF is best known for its basketball program. The men's basketball team have won three national titles: the 1949 NIT under Pete Newell and the 1955 and 1956 NCAA championships under Phil Woolpert. The latter two were led by future National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame members Bill Russell and K.C. Jones.
USF retained its status as a basketball powerhouse into the 1970s and early 80s, holding the distinction of being a "major" program in a "mid-major" conference (the WCC having declined somewhat in stature since the 1960s). It held the number-one spot in the polls on numerous occasions. In 1977, led by All-American center Bill Cartwright, the Dons went 29–0 and were regarded as the #1 team in the nation in both major polls before dropping their last two games.
The Dons' prominence in the 1970s came at a price, however. The NCAA placed the Dons on probation two times in the late 1970s. Head coach Bob Gaillard was fired after the first, and an in-house inquiry after the second resulted in the firing of his successor, Dan Belluomini. It was also well known that basketball players got special treatment; many of them were marginal students at best, and at least one instance where a player threatened another student was swept under the rug by school officials. It was also common for "tutors" to take tests and write papers for players.
The situation came to a head in December 1981, when All-American guard Quintin Dailey assaulted a female student. During the subsequent investigation, Dailey admitted taking a no-show job at a business owned by a prominent non-sports USF donor. The donor had also paid Dailey $5,000 since 1980. Combined with other revelations, school president Rev. John Lo Schiavo announced on July 29, 1982 that he was suspending the basketball program—the first time a school had shut down a major sport under such circumstances. The move was applauded by several members of the coaching fraternity, as the Dailey matter revealed a program that was, in the words of San Francisco Chronicle sportswriter Glenn Dickey, "totally out of control."
LoSchiavo resurrected the program in 1985 under former star Jim Brovelli, who quickly returned the program to respectability. He was not able to reach postseason play, however, and resigned in 1995. The program has only reached the postseason twice since its revival—an NCAA berth in 1998 under Phil Mathews and a 2005 NIT berth under former coach Jessie Evans.
The program regressed the next few years, and Jessie Evans was granted a request for a 'leave of absence' on December 27, 2007. Basketball coach Eddie Sutton took over on an interim basis, needing two wins for a personal milestone of 800 career coaching victories. At the time, Bob Knight was the only other Division I men's coach to have accomplished the feat. After months of speculation, Evans was finally officially fired by USF on March 20, 2008, and a national coaching search was launched, including the use of an executive search consultant company, DHR International.
Rex Walters was named as the Dons' head coach on April 14, 2008. On March 9, 2016, after eight seasons during which the Dons were unable to do more than break even (127-127), athletic director Scott Sidwell fired Walters.
On March 30, 2016, Kyle Smith was named as the new head coach. Prior to joining USF, Smith had spent the prior six years as head coach of the Columbia University basketball team. For nine years prior to that, he was assistant coach at Saint Mary's College of California, which went to the Sweet 16 in his final year.
Women's basketball also experienced recent successes, including appearances in the NCAA women's tournament in 1995, 1996, 1997, and 2016 and a WNIT berth in 2002. The 1996 season represented their best ever, as the women's team made it into the tournament's Sweet Sixteen. The team is presently coached by Molly Goodenbour.
|San Francisco Dons basketball|
|Men's NCAA Championships (2)|
|NIT Championships (1)|
|Men's Conference Titles (17)
* WCC Tournament title
|Men's NCAA Tournament
*Final Four appearance
|Women's Conference Titles (4)|
|Women's NCAA Tournament
*Sweet Sixteen appearance
|1949 San Francisco Dons men's basketball|
|1954–55 & 1955–56 San Francisco Dons men's basketball|
Compared to local rivals Santa Clara and Saint Mary's, USF's football teams were historically not as strong. However, the Dons entered college football lore by going undefeated in 1951 and producing three NFL hall of famers (Gino Marchetti, Ollie Matson, and Bob St. Clair). However, they did not receive a bowl invitation, as the team turned down any suggestions that they leave their two black teammates at home at the expense of a much-needed bowl bid. Due to the associated financial burden on the school that a bowl bid would have alleviated, USF's finest football team ever was its last at the major college level (now Division I FBS). Though football made a brief comeback as a Division II sport during the 1960s and 1970s, USF has not fielded a varsity team since.
Kuharich, at times, would delegate recruiting responsibilities to his freshman coach, Brad Lynn, who had little to offer prospective players in the way of scholarship inducements beyond tuition and room and board in an old ROTC barracks. However, Lynn would take recruits to the highest hill on campus, and would gesture out towards the sweeping panorama of San Francisco saying, "THIS is your campus." Only a handful of players from that 1951 team had been considered blue-ribbon prospects in high school. Two of the team's best players, Toler and guard Louis (Red) Stephens, had not even played high school football. Future Hall of Famer Marchetti was a high school dropout who had played only sparingly when he was in school.
|1951 San Francisco Dons football|
|Sports information officer|
The men's golf team has won 11 West Coast Conference championships: 1970–71, 1981–84, 1986, 1988, 1990, 2009, 2011.
Men's soccer is USF's most successful program, earning five national titles, including a co-championship with Penn State in 1949. The program's successes came under alumnus Stephen Negoesco, who coached from 1962 to 2000 and led the team to 540 wins and four national championships (1966, 1975, 1976, 1980). Under Negoesco's successor, alumnus Erik Visser, the men's team earned the 2004, 2005 and 2008 WCC titles.
|San Francisco Dons soccer|
|Men's NCAA Championships (4)|
|Men's Conference Titles (32)|
The Women's cross country team won four consecutive WCC championships in 2009–2012, and in 2011 made an NCAA Championship appearance. They maintained national rankings in both 2011–2012. Israeli Olympian Maor Tiyouri competed for the team.
|San Francisco Dons tennis|
|Men's NCAA Team Titles (1)|
|Men's NCAA Individual Titles (1)|
The women's volleyball team has made two NCAA tournament appearances: in 2003, under former coach Jeff Nelson, and in 2008 under current coach Gilad Doron. The 2008 season saw the Dons finish with a Top 25 national ranking, a 22–8 record, and five all-WCC players.
|San Francisco Dons volleyball|
Tournament appearances (2)
USF participates in the following club sports: golf, fencing, boxing, rifle, tennis, karate, soccer and lacrosse. Rugby, which was one of the first varsity sports in school history, is currently a club sport. Football is played on the intramural level.
In 2013, USF hosted the inaugural championships of the United States Intercollegiate Boxing Association, the first national collegiate tournament in the US to include women's boxing.
The 1936 San Francisco Dons football team was an American football team that represented the University of San Francisco as an independent during the 1936 college football season. In their first season under head coach George Malley, the Dons compiled a 4–4–2 record and were outscored by their opponents by a combined total of 114 to 103.1940 San Francisco Dons football team
The 1940 San Francisco Dons football team was an American football team that represented the University of San Francisco as an independent during the 1940 college football season. In their fifth and final season under head coach George Malley, the Dons compiled a 1–6–1 record and were outscored by their opponents by a combined total of 125 to 73.1946 San Francisco Dons football team
The 1946 San Francisco Dons football team was an American football team that represented the University of San Francisco as an independent during the 1946 college football season. In their first and only season under head coach Maurice J. "Clipper" Smith, the Dons compiled a 3–6 record and were outscored by their opponents by a combined total of 172 to 162.1947 San Francisco Dons football team
The 1947 San Francisco Dons football team was an American football team that represented the University of San Francisco as an independent during the 1947 college football season. In its first and only season under head coach Edward McKeever, the team compiled a 7–3 record and outscored opponents by a total of 275 to 143.1954–55 San Francisco Dons men's basketball team
The 1954–55 San Francisco Dons men's basketball team represented the University of San Francisco in NCAA competition in the 1954–55 season. The Dons, a member of the California Basketball Association (now known as the West Coast Conference), finished the season ranked #1 in the nation.1955–56 San Francisco Dons men's basketball team
The 1955–56 San Francisco Dons men's basketball team represented the University of San Francisco. The Dons ended the season undefeated, becoming the first NCAA tournament champion to record a perfect season.1966 San Francisco Dons men's soccer team
The 1966 San Francisco Dons men's soccer team represented the University of San Francisco during the 1966 NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Season. The Dons won their first NCAA Soccer Championship title this season, defeating Long Island in the championship. It was the 23rd season the Dons fielded a men's varsity soccer team.2012–13 San Francisco Dons men's basketball team
The 2012–13 San Francisco Dons men's basketball team represented the University of San Francisco during the 2012–13 college basketball season. This was head coach Rex Walters fifth season at San Francisco. The Dons played their home games at the War Memorial Gymnasium and were members of the West Coast Conference. They finished the season 15–16, 7–9 in WCC play to finish in a tie for fifth place. They lost in the second round of the WCC Tournament to Loyola Marymount.2018–19 San Francisco Dons men's basketball team
The 2018–19 San Francisco Dons men's basketball team represents the University of San Francisco during the 2018–19 NCAA Division I men's basketball season. The Dons, led by third-year head coach Kyle Smith, play their home games at the War Memorial Gymnasium as members of the West Coast Conference.Bob Gaillard
Bob Gaillard (born October 23, 1940) is an American former college basketball coach and businessman. He coached the San Francisco Dons as an assistant beginning in 1968, and became head coach in the 1970–71 season. Under Gaillard, the Dons finished 29–2 in the 1976–77 season, which saw them ranked number one in the nation. In 1977 he was recognized as the Associated Press College Basketball Coach of the Year.
After leaving San Francisco, Gaillard worked for several years in the private sector, becoming director of sales and advertising for the San Francisco Giants in 1981.
He was the men's basketball head coach at Lewis & Clark College from 1989 to 2011. He was succeeded by Dinari Foreman. The Pioneers gave Gaillard his 500th career victory in 2009.
He is a 1958 graduate of Harry Ells High School in Richmond, California.Bradley Zimmer
Bradley Clarke Zimmer (born November 27, 1992) is an American professional baseball center fielder for the Cleveland Indians of Major League Baseball (MLB). He attended the University of San Francisco, and played college baseball for the San Francisco Dons baseball team. He was drafted by the Indians in the first round of the 2014 MLB draft, and he made his MLB debut in 2017.Jimmy Needles
James R. Needles (March 3, 1900 – July 22, 1969) was an American basketball coach best known for being the United States' first Olympic basketball coach in 1936.
Born in Tacoma, Washington in 1900, Needles studied at the University of San Francisco, then known as St. Ignatius College. Needles played basketball for the then-Grey Fog, becoming a player-coach during his senior year in 1924. He was appointed the basketball team's full-time coach upon his graduation. Needles coached Saint Ignatius College to two championships, capturing the Far Western Conference championship in 1928 and the Pacific Association title in 1929.
Needles also coached Saint Ignatius' football team during this period, leading them to a runner-up spot in the 1928 Far Western Regionals.
Illness forced Needles to resign from Saint Ignatius College in 1932, but he began coaching Amateur Athletic Union basketball soon afterwards. Needles coached the Universal Pictures team to the AAU championship, and as a result, he was appointed as coach of the first U.S. Olympic basketball team, which competed in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany.Following the Berlin Olympics, Needles returned to the college ranks, this time at Loyola of Los Angeles, where he mentored future coaches Pete Newell, Phil Woolpert and future Loyola coach Edwin "Scotty" McDonald. He returned to the University of San Francisco in 1941 as its athletic director and was instrumental in Newell's appointment as head basketball coach in 1946.
Needles died at his home, in San Francisco, on July 22, 1969.Kezar Stadium
Kezar Stadium is an outdoor athletics stadium in San Francisco, California, located adjacent to Kezar Pavilion in the southeastern corner of Golden Gate Park. It is the former home of the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders (first AFL season only) of the National Football League (NFL) and of the San Francisco Dragons of Major League Lacrosse. It currently serves as the home of San Francisco City FC of USL League Two.
Kezar also hosts amateur and recreation sports leagues, as well as numerous San Francisco high school football games (including the city championship, known popularly as the "Turkey Bowl").Pete Newell
Peter Francis Newell (August 31, 1915 – November 17, 2008) was an American college men's basketball coach and basketball instructional coach. He coached for 15 years at the University of San Francisco, Michigan State University and the University of California, Berkeley, compiling an overall record of 234 wins and 123 losses. He led the University of California to the 1959 NCAA men's basketball championship, and a year later coached the gold medal-winning U.S. team at the 1960 Summer Olympics, a team that would be inducted as a unit to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010. After his coaching career ended he ran a world-famous instructional basketball camp and served as a consultant and scout for several National Basketball Association (NBA) teams. He is often considered to be one of the most influential figures in the history of basketball.Phil Woolpert
Philipp D. Woolpert (December 15, 1915 – May 5, 1987) was an American basketball coach, best known as the head coach of the University of San Francisco Dons in the 1950s. He led them to consecutive national championships in 1955 and 1956.
Born in Danville, Kentucky, Woolpert was raised in Los Angeles, graduating from Manual Arts High School in 1933, in the depths of the Great Depression. He attended L.A. Junior College and Loyola University, where he played basketball for three years, was initiated into the Alpha Delta Gamma fraternity, and graduated in 1940 with a degree in political science.
In 1946, Woolpert was hired as basketball coach for St. Ignatius College Preparatory in San Francisco, where he posted a 63–29 (.685) record in his four years as coach. Upon Pete Newell's departure for Michigan State University, the University of San Francisco hired Woolpert to succeed Newell. He assumed both the posts of men's basketball coach and athletic director.
During his tenure at USF, Woolpert posted a 153–78 (.662) record, including a 60-game win streak that at the time was the longest in college basketball, surpassed later by John Wooden's 88 straight wins at UCLA. Woolpert's teams, anchored by Bill Russell, K. C. Jones, Gene Brown, and Mike Farmer, were known for their defense and held opponents below 60 points on 47 different occasions. USF won the NCAA Tournament in 1955 and 1956, and finished third in 1957. At the time the youngest college basketball coach to win a national championship, Woolpert also won Coach of the Year honors in 1955 and 1956.
After briefly coaching the San Francisco Saints of the American Basketball League, Woolpert returned to the college ranks in 1962, this time with the University of San Diego. While at USD, Woolpert posted a 90–90 record and served as both men's basketball coach and athletic director.
Woolpert retired from coaching in 1969, and later settled down on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington and became a school bus driver in Sequim. He died of lung cancer at age 71 at his home in 1987.
Woolpert's son Paul is the assistant coach of the D-League Los Angeles D-fenders.San Francisco Dons football
For information on all University of San Francisco sports, see San Francisco DonsThe San Francisco Dons football program were the intercollegiate American football team for University of San Francisco located in San Francisco, California. The team competed in NCAA Division II as a Division II Independent football program. The school's first football team was fielded in 1917.San Francisco Dons men's basketball
The San Francisco Dons men's basketball team represents the University of San Francisco in NCAA Division I men's college basketball. The Dons compete in the West Coast Conference, in which they have the winningest program, and have won sixteen regular season championships and one conference tournament championship. The current head coach is Todd Golden. They play home games at the War Memorial Gymnasium, which also serves as the venue for women's basketball, volleyball, athletic department offices, and athletic training rooms.The basketball team claims three national titles: the 1949 NIT under Pete Newell, and the 1955 and 1956 NCAA Division I championships. The latter two were under Phil Woolpert, and led by player and National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Russell.
USF retained its status as a basketball powerhouse into the 1970s and early 1980s, holding the distinction of being a "major" program in a "mid-major" conference (the WCC having declined somewhat in stature since the 1960s). It held the number one spot in the polls on numerous occasions. In 1977, led by All-American center Bill Cartwright, the Dons went 29–0 and were regarded as the #1 team in the nation in both major polls before dropping their last two games.
The San Francisco Dons men's basketball program has been rated the 29th "Greatest College Basketball Program of All-Time" by Street & Smith's magazine, 49th by NBC Sports "Greatest Programs of All-Time", and 75th by the ESPN/Sagarin All-Time College Basketball Rankings, higher in all three rankings than any other West Coast Conference school and many schools from BCS Conferences (Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Southeastern Conference).San Francisco Dons men's soccer
The San Francisco Dons men's soccer team represents the University of San Francisco in all men's Division I NCAA competitions. They compete in the West Coast Conference and are one of the most successful collegiate men's soccer programs in the country with championships in 1966, 1975, 1976, and 1980. They are coached by Leonard Griffin, who was hired in April 2019.San Francisco Dons women's basketball
The San Francisco Dons women's basketball team represents the University of San Francisco in NCAA Division I women's college basketball.
Located in: San Francisco, California