Athletics success at Illinois State is broad-based. With 19 intercollegiate sports, the Redbird program constitutes one of the largest in the Midwest. With 147 league titles since 1982, it also represents one of the most successful.

Illinois State began its athletics program more than 100 years ago and the winning tradition began simultaneously. The school, which had already been an NCAA Division I competitor for more than a decade, left behind its independent status during the 1981-82 school year and affiliated itself with conference play.

Today, 17 of the 19 Redbird sports compete in the Missouri Valley Conference, the oldest collegiate league west of the Mississippi River.

Illinois State has won the Missouri Valley Conference's All-Sports title 12 times since 1985, and with the six Gateway All-Sport championships, has claimed 18 since 1983. The Redbirds have finished in the top-five of the Valley's All-Sports race for 31-straight years and have finished first, second or third in 22 of the last 23 years. In 2013, ISU won titles in soccer (Valley tournament), women's cross country, women's golf, and baseball (regular-season), leading to a second-place finish in the All-Sports trophy run with a score of 3.382.

On an individual sport level, here are some of the highlights from each of ISU's 19 intercollegiate sports program histories.


  • Four Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoff appearances ('98, '99, '06, '12)
  • Advanced to FCS quarterfinals three times and semifinals once
  • One Missouri Valley Football Conference championship (1999)
  • Five-straight Missouri Valley Football Conference Defensive Player of the Year Awards (each season from 2002-06)
  • Three MVFC Offensive Player of the Year honors
  • Three MVFC Freshmen of the Year (Dusty Burk, Tom Nelson, Matt Brown)
  • The Redbirds had at least one player selected in the NFL Draft each year from 2005-07, one in 2012
  • 19 First-Team All-American selections


  • Two All-Americans: Julie Mueller-Paska (1984), Jolene Jordan-Hoover (1985)
  • Three MVC Titles
  • 75 All-MVC Selections
  • Three MVC Tournament Titles
  • Seven MVC Players of the Year


  • Four NCAA appearances
  • Four MVC Tournament Titles
  • Eight MVC Regular-Season Titles
  • Six MVC Players of the Year
  • Six MVC Defensive Players of the Year
  • 96 All-Valley Selections
  • 19 All-Great Lakes Region

Men's Basketball

  • 20 All-Americans Selections
  • Two Larry Bird Valley Players of the Year
  • Four State Farm Valley Tournament Most Outstanding Players of the Year
  • 66 All-Valley selections
  • Six NCAA Tournament appearances
  • 12 NIT appearances
  • Three Valley regular-season championships
  • Four Valley Tournament championships

Women's Basketball

  • Four NCAA Tournament appearances
  • 12 WNIT appearances
  • Four MVC Tournament champions
  • Six MVC Regular-Season champions
  • Six Player of the Year Awards
  • Six Coach of the Year Awards


  • 2012 Midwest Independent Conference Champions
  • Kim Genereux (2012) and Sami King (2013) won the MIC All-Around Title in back-to-back seasons
  • Kim Genereux and Samantha King qualified for the NCAA Regional as All-Around competitors in both 2012 and 2013

Track & Field

  • 37 All-Americans
  • 57 All-American Honors
  • Five Individual National Championships
  • Three Individual Runner-Up National Championships
  • Five Olympians

Cross Country

  • 16 Conference Championships
  • 73 All-Conference Performers
  • 2 All-Americans

Men's Tennis

  • Two Valley Regular Season Championships
  • 11 Valley Individual Singles Championships
  • 11 MVC Individual Doubles Championships
  • 18 Valley Scholar-Athletes
  • 29 All-Valley Conference Selections

Women's Tennis

  • Five Valley Regular Season Championships
  • Five Valley Tournament Championships
  • Finished in the top-three in the Valley during the regular season in 14 out of the last 18 years
  • Four NCAA Tournament appearances

Men's Golf

  • Five Valley Championships
  • Six MVC Individual Medalist Honors
  • Five Valley Coach of the Year Awards (Harland Kilborn, 4), including current head coach Ray Kralis
  • Professional player D.A. Weibring is an alum of the program

Women's Golf

  • 13 Valley Championships, including four-straight
  • 13 MVC Individual Medalist Honors
  • Seven Valley Coaches of the Year Awards, including four-straight current head coach Darby Sligh

Swimming & Diving

  • Eight Divers of the Year, including Wenting Zhang in 2013
  • Two Swimmers of the Year
  • Fifteen Coach of the Year Awards for current head coach Steve Paska (Midwest Independent 1986, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91; Gateway Conference 1986, 88, 89, 90, 92; National Independent 1993, 94, 95; Missouri Valley Conference 1996
  • Four Diving Coach of the Year Awards (Weiden, 2; Hoffmann, 1)
  • Five Missouri Valley Conference Championships
  • Broke 15 school records at the 2013 MVC Championship


  • First Season: 1890
  • College Division National Championship (1969)
  • Two MVC Tournament Titles (2010, 1994)
  • Two MVC Conference Titles (2013, 2010)
  • Two MVC Coach of the Year Honors (2013, 2010)
  • Three D-I NCAA Postseason Appearances (2010, 1994, 1976)
  • Former pitcher Neal Cotts won game two of the 2005 World Series, helping lead the Chicago White Sox to their first world championship since 1917


  • Twelve Regular Season MVC Titles
  • Six MVC Tournament Titles
  • Nine NCAA Appearances
  • 10 MVC MVP Awards
  • Six MVC Coach/Staff of the Year
  • Thirty-five MVC Scholar-Athlete selections