|University||University of North Carolina at Charlotte|
|NCAA||Division I (FBS)|
|Athletic director||Mike Hill|
|Location||Charlotte, North Carolina|
|Football stadium||Jerry Richardson Stadium|
|Basketball arena||Dale F. Halton Arena|
|Baseball stadium||Robert & Mariam Hayes Stadium|
|Softball stadium||Sue M. Daughtridge Stadium|
|Soccer stadium||Transamerica Field|
|Other arenas||Halton-Wagner Tennis Complex|
|Mascot||Norm the Niner|
|Colors||Green and white|
The UNC Charlotte 49ers are the intercollegiate athletics teams that represent the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in Charlotte, North Carolina. The 49ers have 18 varsity teams, which compete at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I level as a member of Conference USA (C-USA). Despite being a founding member of C-USA, Charlotte rejoined the conference in 2013 after spending eight years as a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference. The men's and women's teams are often called Charlotte, which is commonly abbreviated using the acronym "CLT", the city's geocode. The teams are also referred to as the 49ers, or simply Niners.
The athletics department officially changed its name to simply Charlotte in 2000. The school's identity suffered from years of constant confusion before then. While UNCC and UNC Charlotte were the officially accepted athletic names, media outlets frequently used unofficial nicknames such as N.C.-Charlotte, N.C.-Char, North Carolina-Charlotte, UNC, UNC-C, UNCC at Charlotte, and others. When the name change was made official, Athletics Director Judy Rose summarized the sentiment that drove the name change:
"We're proud to be members of the University of North Carolina university system. But, frankly, we are tired of being confused with other institutions or having our own identity misused and misconstrued. It's harder to make a name for yourself, when your name keeps getting confused. Not only will this logo simplify matters, but it gives the program an exciting new look that better captures our essence."
The official school name remains the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
The nickname "49ers" derives from the fact that the university's predecessor--Charlotte Center of the University of North Carolina (CCUNC - established in 1946) was saved from being shut down by the state in 1949 by Bonnie Cone, when CCUNC became Charlotte College. Due to this "49er spirit" that Cone felt embodied the university, referring to the settlers that endured much hardships in traveling across the United States to seek fortune in the California Gold Rush, students of the fledgling UNC Charlotte chose "49ers" as the school's mascot. The fact that the University's Main Campus front entrance is located on North Carolina Highway 49 is pure coincidence.
Prior to the "49ers" moniker, the athletic teams were known as the "Owls" due to CCUNC's beginnings as a night school.
The primary athletics logo, called the "All-In C", contains a pick-axe, a reference to the Gold Rush, inside a stylized block C placed at a 9° angle. According to the university, this signifies "positive energy and forward momentum".
Despite a popular and competitive Conference USA in which UNC Charlotte enjoyed rivalries with the likes of Memphis, Louisville, Cincinnati, Marquette, and others, the collegiate sports landscape underwent a major restructuring in 2004-2005. C-USA took the most serious hit of any conference, losing many of its most successful members, including Charlotte.
After this dramatic reshuffle, UNC Charlotte received an invitation to join the Atlantic 10 Conference, which it accepted. Upon joining the A-10, Charlotte experienced much success in nearly every category with the exception of the signature sport of men's basketball.
With football upgrades on the horizon, and an attempt to restore geographic rivalries,UNC Charlotte returned to a revised Conference USA starting with the 2013-2014 academic season, except for football, where they joined in 2015, and was fully eligible in 2016.
A member of Conference USA, UNC Charlotte currently sponsors teams in nine men's and nine women's NCAA sanctioned sports:
|Men's sports||Women's sports|
|Tennis||Track and field+|
|Track and field+||Volleyball|
|+ - Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor|
The first football program developed in 1946 and lasted until 1948. In 2006 students and alumni began a push for football to return to the school. The Board of Trustees approved it in 2008, and with funding approved in 2010, the school fielded its first official varsity football program since 1948 in 2013. The team would post a 5-6 record in their first season under coach Brad Lambert.
The 49ers softball team began play in 1986. The team has not made an NCAA Tournament appearance. The current head coach is Ashley Chastain.
Charlotte has had its fair share of intense rivalries. In men's basketball, one of their most heated rivalries was with Conference USA rival Cincinnati, who was coached by Bob Huggins for most of this period. From 1995-96 to 2004-05, after which Charlotte and Cincinnati left C-USA, Charlotte managed to upset Cincinnati teams ranked #3, #8, #18, #20 in the country. In what became known as the Cincinnati Incident, a brawl broke out between Cincinnati and the Charlotte student section, when a Cincinnati player threw the basketball into the stands. This led to the creation of a 'buffer zone' being implemented behind the visiting team's bench. ESPN commentator Andy Katz provided this explanation on why Charlotte-Cincinnati was one of the juiciest rivalries in the country: "The games are hotly contested usually and the fans in Charlotte don't like Cincinnati. They get up for this game more than any other."
Charlotte's 29-year men's basketball rivalry with the Davidson Wildcats sees Mecklenburg County's only two Division I schools go head-to-head for the Hornet's Nest Trophy. Charlotte leads the series 26-11. Due to a scheduling conflict, the series was on hiatus until the 2010-11 season.
Recently Charlotte has started to develop a rivalry with the Appalachian State Mountaineers. Given Charlotte's dominance of Appalachian State in sports they've long participated in, not much of a rivalry has been able to develop. However, Charlotte's establishment of a football team, and the competitiveness of the subsequent contests in that sport, have led to a renewed interest and developing rivalry. Appalachian State is undefeated against Charlotte in football with games scheduled through 2030.
Athletic facilities at Charlotte have improved dramatically over the past decade. In 1996, men's basketball returned to campus full-time for the first time in nearly 20 years with the opening of Dale F. Halton Arena. A new outdoor sports facility, the Irwin Belk Track and Field Center, opened in 1999 and serves as the home to the 49ers track and field teams in addition to both men's and women's soccer. Tom & Lib Phillips Field, the baseball facility, underwent a $6 million overhaul that was completed in 2007; the facility was renamed Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium in honor of the renovation's benefactor and her late husband. The golf team's practice facility at Rocky River Golf Club in Concord was completed in October 2006.