Over the years, Boston University athletic teams have enjoyed unparalleled success not just on the local and regional level but also on the national scene. The Terriers have captured the America East Commissioner's Cup a total of 11 times, including seven of the past 10, and have finished in the top two 18 of the 22 years since the America East Conference was founded. The Cup recognizes the strongest overall athletic program in the Conference.
Few would have dreamt of this success in 1839 when Boston University was established as a Methodist university primarily for the purpose of higher education. By 1916, BU had grown to nearly 3,000 students. President Lemuel Murlin realized the large pool of athletic potential with the growing numbers and since BU had no athletic field at the time, the primary focal point was men's basketball.
The Dec. 16, 1916, basketball game against the Posse School of Gymnastics marked the official entrance of Boston University into varsity level competition. Led by Coach V.B. Allison, a former Tilton Academy coach, the team won its first three games. Since gaining official status in 1916, and despite a brief hiatus in 1943 and 1944 due to World War II, Boston University men's basketball has gradually earned a reputation as a very successful program highlighted by an NCAA tournament quarterfinal appearance in 1958, and multiple NCAA and NIT postseason tournament appearances.
During the 1917-18 academic year BU students voted to make the Boston terrier the official school mascot. Ironically, the Boston terrier was first bred in 1839, the year BU was founded.
The tireless dedication of student athletes created the foundation for varsity athletics, and progressively made way for more official recognition of men's club teams, like ice hockey (1917), football and baseball (1920), track (1931), crew (1939), tennis (1948) and soccer (1949). Men’s lacrosse will become the latest club team to reach varsity status when the Terriers begin competing at the Division I level during the 2013-14 season.
The men's ice hockey team captured the school's first national championship in 1971 before successfully defending that title one year later to become the first Eastern school to win back-to-back championships in the sport. The program ranks third all-time among Division I schools in wins and also brought national titles back to campus in 1978, 1995 and 2009.
In the fall of 1974, BU began funding for women's crew, swimming and basketball, thus making them the University's first official women's varsity sports. Women's crew, the first recognized women's varsity sport, outrowed its competition in its initial 1974 season. With a perfect season record after the National Collegiate Championships, women's crew represented the U.S. at the World Championships, a first for BU. By 1979, women's tennis, track and field, cross country and field hockey became varsity sports. In 1988, softball was added. Finally, with additional funding, the women's lacrosse, golf and soccer club teams became official intercollegiate varsity competitors by the mid-to-late 1990s. The women's ice hockey team was elevated to varsity status prior to the 2005-06 season, and in 2012, women’s lightweight rowing was added.
While each of the Terrier teams can point to a number of games as highlights in its storied history, there is no doubt that one date stands out as perhaps the key in the history of the entire athletic program. That date would be July 29, 1953, as on that date, the University purchased Braves Field from Lou Perini, the late owner of major league baseball's Boston Braves. The old Braves Field is now the home of Nickerson Field, which is located between Case Center, the home of basketball, women's ice hockey and wrestling, and Agganis Arena, a 290,000-square-foot multi-purpose sports and entertainment center that opened in January 2005 and serves as home to the Terrier men's ice hockey team. Only a block away from Case Center is the Terriers' softball field, and across the street from the softball field is the Track and Tennis Center.
Since 1916, when varsity intercollegiate athletics made their first appearance on the University scene, dedicated generations of talented athletes and enthusiastic faculty and fans have transformed Boston University into the major national intercollegiate competitor it is today. The BU community proudly boasts the successful histories and promising futures for all its current 25 NCAA Division I varsity sports.