Let’s be real: With the exception of men’s volleyball, Loyola University of Chicago is not known for winning championships or record-breaking Division I athletic teams. Gentile Arena averages less than half-full attendance for men’s basketball games, its most watched sport, according to attendance records on Loyola Athletics’ website. But just because you don’t see the Ramblers on the Sportscenter Top 10 every day doesn’t mean they don’t have any athletic credit to their names. The Phoenix has compiled a timeline of noteworthy Rambler accomplishments and important events in Loyola Athletics’ history.
1926: Loyola’s Division I football team took on the nickname “the Ramblers” because the team traveled so much for its games since Loyola didn’t have a home field. Despite the athletic department nixing the program as a sport three years later, the nickname stuck.
1939: The Loyola men’s basketball team made its first postseason appearance in the National Invitation Tournament and competed in the championship game against Long Island University. Loyola accomplished this same feat in 1949, again ending the season as the tournament runner-up.
1962: Tom O’Hara won the individual NCAA national title for cross country. The following year, O’Hara became the first Illinois native to break the four-minute barrier for the mile with a time of 3:59.4. In 1964, O’Hara set the world record for fastest indoor mile time at 3:56.4 and went to the Tokyo Olympics the following year, where he qualified for the semifinals for the 1,500 meter race.
March 23, 1963: Labeled as the underdog, the Loyola men’s basketball team pulled a huge upset over two-time NCAA National Champion University of Cincinnati. After taking the Bearcats to overtime, the Ramblers sank a winning bucket as time expired to win 60-58. Besides being Loyola’s one and only basketball national title, this win was also notable because Loyola broke the “gentlemen’s agreement,” which was an unsaid rule between coaches that there couldn’t be more than two black athletes on the court at one time. The Ramblers would regularly have three to four black athletes playing at once.
1964: The Loyola men’s basketball team found its way back into the NCAA tournament, but was defeated by the University of Michigan in the Sweet Sixteen. The Ramblers went on to beat the University of Kentucky — yes, Kentucky — to take a third place finish in the in the Mideast Regional.
1985: This was the last year Loyola’s men’s basketball team made it to NCAA’s March Madness. The Ramblers fell to Georgetown University in the East Regional Semifinals.
2013: The women’s softball team finished in a tie for the regular season title. The Ramblers overcame a shaky 10-11 start by winning 18 of the remaining 24 games. This year was the Ramblers’ final season in the Horizon League, switching to the Missouri Valley Conference the next fall.
May 3, 2014: After making its first NCAA appearance in 2013 and falling to University of California-Irvine in the semifinals, Loyola’s men’s volleyball team went on to win its first NCAA National Championship title in program history. In front of nearly 4,500 fans, the Ramblers defeated Stanford University 3-1 in Gentile Arena.
April 1, 2015: The Loyola men’s basketball team swept the championship series 2-0 to win the College Basketball Invitational against the University of Louisiana-Monroe. This was the men’s basketball team’s first postseason appearance since 1985.
May 9, 2015: The Loyola men’s volleyball team successfully defended its national title against its conference rival, Lewis University. After four tight sets, the Ramblers took the fifth set to overtime, winning 23-21.