UIC Flames

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UIC Flames
UIC Flames wordmark.svg
UniversityUniversity of Illinois Chicago
ConferenceMVC (primary)
MAC (men's swimming & diving)
Southland (men's tennis)
NCAADivision I
Athletic directorMichael Lipitz
LocationChicago, Illinois
Varsity teams18 (8 men’s and 10 women’s)
Basketball arenaCredit Union 1 Arena
Baseball stadiumCurtis Granderson Stadium
Softball stadiumFlames Field
Soccer stadiumFlames Field
Other venuesCog Hill Golf and Country Club
Flames Athletic Center
Flames Natatorium
Flames Outdoor Tennis Courts
UIC Dorin Forum
MascotSparky D. Dragon
Fight song"Fire Up Flames"
ColorsNavy blue and fire engine red[1]

The UIC Flames are the intercollegiate athletic teams that represent the University of Illinois Chicago, located in Chicago, Illinois, in intercollegiate sports as a member of the Division I level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), primarily competing in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) since the 2022–23 academic year.[2] The Flames previously competed in the D-I Horizon League from 1994–95 to 2021–22; in the D-I Mid-Continent Conference (Mid-Con, now currently known as the Summit League since the 2007–08 school year) from 1982–83 to 1993–94; as an NCAA D-I Independent during the 1981–82 school year; and in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) from 1949–50 to about 1980–81.


They are called the Flames as a reference to the Great Chicago Fire, and their team colors are navy blue and fire engine red.

Athletic director[edit]

Garrett Klassy is the current athletic director after Jim Schmidt retired on August 1, 2017 after 25 years.[3]


UIC athletics began with the College of Physicians and Surgeons (P&S) in the 1880s with their basketball and football teams whose team colors were red (blood) and iodoform (iodine). P&S eventually affiliated with and then became absorbed into the University of Illinois forming its College of Medicine.

In 1946, the Chicago Illini represented the two-year University of Illinois undergraduate division located on Navy Pier. In 1965 the Chicago Illini moved to Harrison and Halsted to represent the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle campus. Upon this move the team became known as the Chicas, a shortening of Chicago; this was changed "Chikas" due to taunting from other teams knocking them ("chicas" means "girls" in Spanish). This spelling was rationalized as being a reference to the Chickasaw tribe. It was dropped in the seventies.

When the university joined the NCAA Division I in 1981, it had no nickname for its athletic teams and just used the phrase "Chicago Circle".[4] The following year, the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle merged with the University of Illinois Medical Center and became known as the University of Illinois at Chicago, dropping "Circle" and later the preposition "at" from its name.[5] The consolidated university adopted Flames as its athletic nickname by student votes at the two predecessor schools.[6]

UIC was a charter member of the Association of Mid-Continent Universities which was established on June 18, 1982 and changed its name to the Mid-Continent Conference seven years later in 1989.[7][8] It was one of six universities along with Cleveland State, Northern Illinois, Wisconsin–Green Bay, Wisconsin–Milwaukee and Wright State that left the Mid-Continent in 1994 to join the Midwestern Collegiate Conference which rebranded as the Horizon League on June 4, 2001.[9][10]

UIC announced on January 26, 2022 that it was joining the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) as its twelfth member institution beginning July 1 that same year.[11] A violation of a bylaw requiring at least one year's written notice for any member university transferring to another conference resulted in the Horizon League prohibiting Flames athletic programs from all postseason tournaments for the remainder of the academic year on February 4. [12] The ban was reversed eleven days later on February 15.[13] With UIC's new home of the MVC sponsoring tennis only for women, the Flames joined the Southland Conference for men's tennis shortly after it officially became an MVC member.[14] Men's swimming & diving, another sport not sponsored by the MVC, joined the Mid-American Conference, uniting the Flames with all other MVC members sponsoring that sport.[15]

Varsity teams[edit]

UIC competes in 18 intercollegiate varsity sports:[16] Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis and track & field (indoor and outdoor); while women's sports include basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field (indoor and outdoor) and volleyball.

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


Credit Union 1 Arena, home of the UIC Flames

The Credit Union 1 Arena currently serves as the home of the Flames' basketball teams. The men's basketball team competed in the NCAA tournament in 1998, 2002, and 2004, and appeared in the NIT in 2003, but have not advanced past the first round in either tournament. The team was led by Jimmy Collins from 1996 until his retirement in 2010. Howard Moore, a former assistant coach at Wisconsin, was signed as the new men's head coach in 2010. In his first season, the Flames upset #12/14 Illinois at the United Center. Moore was let go after five seasons in which the Flames went 49–111 overall.[17] He was replaced by Indiana assistant and former Wyoming head coach Steve McClain.[18]


UIC's men's soccer team was ranked as high as #6 in the NCAA national polls in 2006 and made it to the second round of the 2006 National tournament, where they lost to Notre Dame. The following year, the Flames reached the "Elite Eight" in the NCAA soccer playoffs. As of 2011, they have been ranked #142 in the NCAA national rankings, out of 204 teams.[19]

Jay DeMerit played for UIC's men's soccer and captained the Vancouver Whitecaps FC in Major League Soccer, and was a former captain of Watford whom he played for in the Premier League and the Championship. Jay also is a former member of the US national team, whom he represented in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Another Flame, Pat McMahon received an offer to play in Scotland in 2009.[20] Baggio Husidić is a former MLS player who played with Chicago Fire and Los Angeles Galaxy.

Other sports[edit]

Former Major League player Curtis Granderson played baseball for the UIC Flames.[21][22]

UIC's softball team has appeared in one Women's College World Series in 1994.[23]

UIC had a men's ice hockey team before the program was discontinued in the spring of 1996.

The men's swim team won the Horizon League Championships in 2009. Swimming & Diving 2007 alumni Blake Booher qualified for the 2008 Olympic Swimming Trials in the 50 Freestyle. 2011 alumni Steve Yemm qualified for the 2012 Olympic Swimming Trials in the 100 & 200 Butterfly.

UIC Pyromaniacs[edit]

The Pyromaniacs is the official student booster club of the University of Illinois Chicago Department of Athletics.


  1. ^ UIC Brand Guide (PDF). November 10, 2020. Retrieved August 1, 2022.
  2. ^ "UIC to Join the Missouri Valley Conference" (Press release). Missouri Valley Conference. January 26, 2022. Retrieved January 26, 2022.
  3. ^ "Garrett Klassy – Director of Athletics". uicflames.com. Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  4. ^ Wolff, Alexander (1981-12-14). "Ray points the way". Sports Illustrated. pp. 56–57. Retrieved 2016-12-17.
  5. ^ Unger, Rudolph (1982-08-31). "U. of I. ties 2 campuses Wednesday". Chicago Tribune. p. A9.
  6. ^ "Flames". Chicago Tribune. 1982-06-23. p. D5.
  7. ^ "Valpo to join conference," The Associated Press (AP), Saturday, June 19, 1982. Retrieved March 8, 2022
  8. ^ Sun, Chun. "Mid-Continent Conference changing name to The Summit League," The Salt Lake Tribune, Tuesday, May 15, 2007. Retrieved March 8, 2022
  9. ^ "Report: Six schools ready to join Midwestern Conference," United Press International (UPI), Thursday, December 9, 1993. Retrieved March 8, 2022
  10. ^ Lee, Jennifer. "MCC changing name to Horizon League," Sports Business Journal, Monday, June 4, 2001. Retrieved March 8, 2022
  11. ^ "UIC to Join the Missouri Valley Conference," University of Illinois Chicago Athletics, Wednesday, January 26, 2022. Retrieved March 9, 2022
  12. ^ "Horizon League Statement Regarding UIC’s Conference Championship Eligibility," Horizon League, Wednesday, February 9, 2022. Retrieved March 9, 2022
  13. ^ "Horizon League Statement on Board of Directors Decision to Restore Eligibility of UIC Student-Athletes for League Championships," Horizon League, Tuesday, February 15, 2022. Retrieved March 9, 2022
  14. ^ "Southland Conference Adds UIC as Men's Tennis Affiliate Member". Southland Conference. July 14, 2022. Retrieved July 29, 2022.
  15. ^ "UIC to Join MAC As Affiliate Member in Men's Swimming & Diving" (Press release). Mid-American Conference. August 30, 2022. Retrieved September 20, 2022.
  16. ^ "The Official Website of UIC Flames Athletics". University of Illinois Chicago Athletics. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  17. ^ "UIC basketball coach Howard Moore fired". CSN Chicago.
  18. ^ "Illinois-Chicago to hire Indiana assistant Steve McClain as head coach". CBSSports.com.
  19. ^ "NCAA National Rankings". NCAA.
  20. ^ "UICFLAMES.COM Cesar Zambrano Begins Professional Career With Colorado Rapids - University Illinois Chicago Official Athletic Site". cstv.com.
  21. ^ McCarron, Anthony (December 12, 2009). "New York Yankees have quite a catch in Curtis Granderson, who's a leader on and off field". New York Daily News. Retrieved December 13, 2011.
  22. ^ "2020 MLB Baseball Free Agent Tracker - Major League Baseball - ESPN". Current MLB Free Agents. ESPN. Retrieved 2018-12-21.
  23. ^ Plummer, William; Floyd, Larry C. (2013). A Series Of Their Own: History Of The Women's College World Series. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States: Turnkey Communications Inc. ISBN 978-0-9893007-0-4.

External links[edit]