Grand Canyon Antelopes

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Grand Canyon Antelopes
UniversityGrand Canyon University
ConferenceWAC (primary)
Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (men's volleyball, plus beach volleyball in 2024–25)
NCAADivision I
Athletic directorJamie Boggs
LocationPhoenix, Arizona
Varsity teams21
Basketball arenaGlobal Credit Union Arena
Baseball stadiumBrazell Field at GCU Ballpark
Soccer stadiumGCU Stadium
Other venuesAntelope Gymnasium
MascotThunder the Antelope
ColorsPurple, black, and white[1]
Western Athletic Conference logo in Grand Canyon's colors

The Grand Canyon Antelopes (more commonly referred to as the Lopes) are the 21 athletic teams representing Grand Canyon University, located in Phoenix, Arizona. Most of the university's athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division I level in the Western Athletic Conference.[2][3] Men's volleyball competes in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) effective beginning in the 2017–18 academic year. The beach volleyball program competes in the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association (CCSA) through the 2024 season (2023–24 school year), after which it will become an inaugural member of the MPSF beach volleyball league.[4]

Athletic expansion[edit]

GCU was a member of the NAIA until the early 1990s when it transferred to NCAA Division II, in which it competed until 2013.

The university has undergone a transition from a small struggling non-profit liberal arts college to a large modern for-profit private university. Along with the general campus upgrades has come an increase in athletics and athletic facilities.

On November 27, 2012, Grand Canyon University announced that it had accepted an invitation to join Division I's Western Athletic Conference, effective July 1, 2013.[5] This move made Grand Canyon the only for-profit institution with a Division I athletic program.[6]

GCU's business model was at the center of an emerging controversy in college sports. In July 2013, the chief executives of all 12 members of the Pac-12 Conference sent a joint letter to the NCAA asking that the organization review whether for-profit institutions have a place in Division I sports.[7] Later that year, Arizona State University issued a separate statement questioning the school's allegiance to the NCAA's business model.[8] GCU CEO Brian Mueller accused ASU president Michael Crow of being behind the Pac-12 letter.[9] Crow would later double down on his accusations, falsely claiming in 2017 that 11 of the 12 Pac-12 schools would not play GCU because of its for-profit business model, and also asserting that GCU sought to play Pac-12 schools solely for exposure on the Pac-12 Network.[8] Counter to Crow's 2017 assertion, 10 Pac-12 members have scheduled GCU in at least one sport since the Antelopes' move to Division I, although only Arizona and Utah had faced GCU in men's basketball.[8] Arizona State would later play GCU in baseball.

The university announced a five-year sponsorship deal with Nike on May 27, 2015, as a part of Grand Canyon's athletic expansion.

On August 23, 2017, the NCAA officially approved Grand Canyon's move to Division I, elevating the university to active membership status. GCU immediately became eligible for postseason competition.[10]


Grand Canyon University sponsors teams in 10 men's and 11 women's NCAA sanctioned sports:[11]

Men's sports Women's sports
Baseball Basketball
Basketball Beach volleyball
Cross country Cross country
Golf Golf
Soccer Soccer
Swimming and diving Softball
Tennis Swimming and diving
Track and field Tennis
Volleyball Track and field
† – Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor.


Baseball game, Gonzaga University at GCU, February 19, 2016

GCU Baseball has won four NAIA Baseball World Series in 1980, 1981, 1982, and 1986.[12] A number of Alumni have gone on to Major League Baseball careers.[13] The program advanced to its first NCAA tournament in 2021 after winning the WAC baseball tournament[14] and followed it up in 2022 with its first at-large bid.[15]

Men's basketball[edit]

Men's basketball is coached by Bryce Drew of NCAA tournament lore. GCU won three NAIA Men's Basketball Championships at the NAIA Division I level in 1975, 1978, and 1988, the 2007 PacWest Conference Championship and a berth in the 2007 NCAA Division II men's basketball tournament.[12] GCU has seen two Lopes basketball alumni go on to careers in the NBA, including: Horacio Llamas, the first Mexican-born player to play in an NBA game.;[16] and Bayard Forrest, former basketball player with the Seattle SuperSonics and Phoenix Suns. Croatian national team player Emilio Kovačić played his first university basketball seasons in Grand Canyon, before leaving to Arizona State.[17][18] In 2021, the Antelopes won their first WAC championship and made their first NCAA appearance.

Women's basketball[edit]

Women's basketball won the 2007 PacWest Conference Championship and a berth in the 2007 NCAA Women's Division II Basketball tournament.[12]

Men's golf[edit]

Men's golf is coached by Mark Mueller whose father is GCU president Brian Mueller.

Men's soccer[edit]

Men's soccer won the 1996 NCAA Men's Division II Soccer Championship with a 3–1 win over Oakland University.[12] The program qualified for its first NCAA Division I tournament in 2018 after winning the WAC tournament as the No. 4 seed.[19] The program also qualified in 2020[20] and 2021 with at-large berths.[21]


Softball was added in 2004 and in 2010 the team made its first NCAA tournament appearance in 2010. 2010 also saw the Lopes set a new program record for most wins in a season going 42–11.[22] Under first-year head coach Shanon Hays, the program qualified for its first NCAA Division I tournament in 2022 after winning the WAC Tournament.[23]

Women's tennis[edit]

Women's tennis won the 1981 NAIA national women's tennis championship.[24]

Men's track and field[edit]

Men's track team won the 2012 NCAA Division II men's Indoor Track and Field Championship scoring 54 points. [25]


In March 2016, the school announced that it would discontinue the wrestling program.[26]

Club sports[edit]


NCAA men's lacrosse made a brief appearance as an official school sport at GCU from 2008 to 2011. The team began in 2008 and played the first lacrosse game in school history on February 10, 2008, an 8–18 loss to the University of Arizona (MCLA DI).[27] In 2010 GCU and the few other NCAA DII lacrosse programs in the Southwest formed the Western Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association In the Lopes' only season as a member of the WILA, the team recorded a 3–5 conference record.[28] After a number of below .500 seasons combined with increasing travel costs due to lack of NCAA Division II competition in the university announced in March 2011 it would end Division II lacrosse competition.[29] Shortly after the university announced the program will compete at the varsity-club level in the Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association.[30] The program joined the Southwestern Lacrosse Conference (SLC) and plays in the MCLA Division I level in the SLC's Pacific Division. In 2015 and 2017, GCU won the MCLA Division 1 National Championship.[31]


Men's rugby was approved for addition to the GCU club sports lineup in 2013. Although it is officially a club sport, the team is under the auspices of the Athletic Department, and has access to Athletic Department facilities and support personnel.[32] The team began competing in the 2014–2015 academic year. Former University of Arizona collegiate All-American Ryan Kelly is the head coach, and rugby sevens specialist Merrick Firestone is the associate head coach.

GCU Rugby has undertaken a significant recruiting effort, bringing in a large initial recruiting class for the Fall 2014 semester that includes many experienced high school rugby players from across the country, including several High School Rugby All-American invitees.[32] GCU Rugby anticipates hosting a Fall 7s tournament on the GCU campus in September 2014.[33]

Ice Hockey[edit]

Men's ice hockey began in 2016 at the ACHA DII and DIII levels until 2019 when they got accepted for the DI level.[34] Women's ice hockey began in 2017 and is currently a member of the WWCHL and competes in DI of the ACHA.[35]

Athletic facilities[edit]

Grand Canyon University has several athletic facilities where its 21 NCAA athletic programs host home games.

GCU Arena is host to the school's men's and women's basketball teams in addition to women's volleyball. The venue opened in 2011 as a 5,000-seat venue before being expanded to increase capacity to 7,000 seats in 2014.

The baseball team plays home games at Brazell Field at GCU Ballpark, where a brand new stadium was built to surround the existing field in 2018. The stadium is named after Grand Canyon's longtime baseball coach Dr. Dave Brazell.[36] The softball team hosts its home games at GCU Softball Stadium which also opened in 2018.

GCU Stadium is home to the men's and women's soccer programs. The facility opened in 2016 and can hold in excess of 6,000 fans. GCU ranked in the top 10 in both 2016 and 2018 in average attendance for its men's soccer games.

Antelope Gymnasium, which used to house GCU's indoor sports, has served as a secondary indoor facility since 2011 after the opening of GCU Arena. Antelope Gymnasium is the full time venue for the men's volleyball team.


  1. ^ "Grand Canyon University Athletic Brand Standards". September 20, 2018. Retrieved December 22, 2022.
  2. ^ "Grand Canyon's business model is causing a stir in Division I hoops - college basketball". July 29, 2013.
  3. ^ "Education Department calls Grand Canyon a for-profit, raising questions about conversion bids".
  4. ^ "MPSF Adds Beach Volleyball as Record-Setting 12th Sport" (Press release). Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. November 9, 2023. Retrieved November 11, 2023.
  5. ^ "Grand Canyon University to Join WAC" (Press release). Western Athletic Conference. November 27, 2012. Archived from the original on November 30, 2012. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  6. ^ Medcalf, Myron (July 29, 2013). "GCU's for-profit predicament". Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  7. ^ Dodd, Dennis (July 17, 2013). "Pac-12 protest targets for-profit Grand Canyon's move to Division I". Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  8. ^ a b c Medcalf, Myron (February 21, 2018). "Grand Canyon makes a lot of money and is ready to make a lot of noise". Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  9. ^ Dodd, Dennis (July 17, 2013). "Grand Canyon CEO calls out Arizona State in D-I controversyI". Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  10. ^ "Grand Canyon University cleared for D-I play by NCAA". Arizona Sports. August 23, 2017. Retrieved September 9, 2017.
  11. ^ "Grand Canyon University". Retrieved September 16, 2015.
  12. ^ a b c d [1] Archived June 9, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Grand Canyon University Baseball Players Who Made it to a Major League Baseball Team". Retrieved September 16, 2015.
  14. ^ Oscherwitz, Evan (June 4, 2021). "GCU Baseball Eyes First NCAA tournament Appearance". Sports360AZ. Retrieved June 18, 2022.
  15. ^ Lyddon, Luke (May 31, 2022). "GCU baseball team selected to return to NCAA tournament". 12 News. Retrieved June 18, 2022.
  16. ^ "". February 5, 2015. Archived from the original on May 14, 2013. Retrieved September 16, 2015.
  17. ^ Worries Tinge Success for Biola's Kovacic Mitch Polin, LA Times, February 26, 1991
  18. ^ Emilio Kovačić
  19. ^ Obert, Richard (November 12, 2018). "GCU men's soccer team to open NCAA tournament at UC Irvine". AZ Central. Retrieved June 18, 2022.
  20. ^ Obert, Richard (April 19, 2021). "Grand Canyon men's soccer gains NCAA tournament at-large berth, opens against Washington". AZ Central. Retrieved June 18, 2022.
  21. ^ Obert, Richard (November 17, 2021). "GCU men's soccer team ready to cash in, crash through at home in NCAA tournament first round". AZ Central. Retrieved June 18, 2022.
  22. ^ "Grand Canyon University – GCU to Make First-Ever NCAA tournament Appearance". October 5, 2010. Retrieved September 16, 2015.
  23. ^ Obert, Richard (May 19, 2022). "Grand Canyon softball makes first NCAA tournament regional, will face No. 5 UCLA". AZ Central. Retrieved June 18, 2022.
  24. ^ [2] Archived May 23, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ Grand Canyon Athletics (May 11, 2012). "GCU scores title in second year". Archived from the original on January 31, 2016. Retrieved September 16, 2015.
  26. ^ Richard Obert (March 8, 2016). "Grand Canyon University discontinues wrestling program". Retrieved March 19, 2016.
  27. ^ "Antelopes lacrosse debuts with heroic loss". Grand Canyon University. February 10, 2008.
  28. ^ "2011 Computer Rating". 2011. Retrieved January 31, 2012.
  29. ^ Coyne, Jac (March 10, 2011). "Grand Canyon Decides to Drop Program". Lacrosse Magazine. Archived from the original on January 27, 2013. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
  30. ^ "Lacrosse to Join MCLA". Grand Canyon University. April 8, 2011. Retrieved June 3, 2011.
  31. ^ "Rapkin to be a Guest on Lacrosse Talk". Grand Canyon University. October 28, 2011. Retrieved January 31, 2011.
  32. ^ a b "Grand Canyon to Start Rugby with Over 50 Players", Goff Rugby Report, August 4, 2014.
  33. ^ "gcurugby". gcurugby. Retrieved September 16, 2015.
  34. ^ "Men's Ice Hockey". Retrieved July 7, 2019.
  35. ^ "Women's Ice Hockey". Retrieved July 7, 2019.
  36. ^ Retrieved May 13, 2010. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)[title missing]

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