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Evansville Purple Aces
University University of Evansville
Conference Missouri Valley
NCAA Division I
Athletics director
Location Evansville, IN
Varsity teams 14
Basketball arena Roberts Stadium
Evansville Events Center
Mascot Ace Purple
Nickname Purple Aces
Fight song
Colors Purple and White and Orange


Homepage Evansville Purple Aces

The Evansville Purple Aces represent the University of Evansville in NCAA Division I sports.


Purple Aces and Ace Purple

The University of Evansville's nickname, the Aces, was acquired after an opposing coach cracked a joke after losing to the Evansville College Pioneers in the 1920s. Dan Scism, the sportswriter credited with first using the name 'Aces' in headlines, said he did so at the suggestion of basketball coach John Harmon in 1926. "Prior to that the Aces had been called Pioneers," Scism said, "but Coach Harmon suggested I call them the Aces because he was told by Louisville's coach that he didn't have four aces up his sleeve, he had five!"

Forty years after Aces came into being, mascot 'Ace Purple' was created by Evansville Press artist Larry Hill. Ace Purple is a turn-of-the century riverboat gambler, appropriate since Evansville is located on the banks of the Ohio River. However, the first Ace Purple was a rough, mean-looking character who did not go over well with Aces' fans. Artist Keith Butz softened 'Ace' in 1977 into a smiling, friendly figure who remains popular with young and old alike.

Intercollegiate teams

UE athletics [1] now include 14 NCAA Division I varsity sports, eight for women and six for men. They include women's tennis, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's golf, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's swimming & diving, men's and women's soccer, baseball, softball, and women's volleyball.


Men's Basketball

The University of Evansville athletics department was built upon a foundation of success in men's basketball. In the early years of the men's basketball program the Purple Aces appeared in the NAIA national tournament. The Purple Aces appeared 4 times in the NAIA Tournament (1941, 1942, 1951, and 1955). The Purple Aces had a NAIA tournament record of 3-4. The furthest distance Evansville got in the NAIA tournaments was in third round (NAIA Elite Eight/NAIA Quarterfinals) in 1951, only to lose to Regis University (Colo.) 70-68 [2].

Shortly after the 1955 season the Purple Aces would move up to the NCAA College Division, now called NCAA Division II. The Purple Aces would have much better success in their new division. Winning national championships in 1959, 1960, 1964, 1965 and 1971. The team was led by legendary coach Arad McCutchan from 1946 to 1977 who led the Purple Aces to a 515-313 record.

In 1977 UE began playing in NCAA Division I athletics. That same year on December 13, a chartered DC-3 carrying the entire UE basketball team crashed in a field near the Evansville Regional Airport. Every member of the team and coaching staff on the plane was killed. One player was not able to attend the game and thus was not on the plane; not soon after the plane crash, however, the player who was not on the plane was killed in a car accident along with his younger brother. To remember that team, Memorial Plaza stands in the middle of campus between Olmsted Administration Hall and the site of the new University Center, crowned by a fountain with the names engraved. Additionally engraved is the following inscription: "Out of the agony of this hour we will rise."

Tremendous community support brought back the basketball program the next year, and in the relatively short time at the Division I level, the Purple Aces have made five trips to the NCAA Men's basketball tournament (1982, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1999) [3] and two trips to the NIT (1998, 1994)[4].

Women's Basketball

The University of Evansville women's basketball team (the Lady Aces) have made two trips to the NCAA basketball tournament (1999, 2009)[5].

School spirit

In 2000, the University adopted a new athletics logo that did away with the old Ace Purple logo (pictured). However, the University made sure that Ace Purple remained as a big part of home athletic events. To this day, a University of Evansville student is chosen during try-outs in August to don the Ace Purple mascot costume at all major home athletic events.

The athletic teams are supported by the university's dance team, cheer squad, and a pep band, the Aces Brass.


See also

External links


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