Charlotte 49ers
UniversityUniversity of North Carolina at Charlotte
ConferenceConference USA
(The American in 2023)
NCAADivision I (FBS)
Athletic directorMike Hill
LocationCharlotte, North Carolina
Varsity teams18 (9 men's, 9 women's)
Football stadiumJerry Richardson Stadium
Basketball arenaDale F. Halton Arena
Baseball stadiumRobert & Mariam Hayes Stadium
Softball stadiumSue M. Daughtridge Stadium
Soccer stadiumTransamerica Field
Other venuesHalton-Wagner Tennis Complex
MascotNorm the Niner
ColorsGreen and white[1]
Conference USA logo in Charlotte's colors
Conference USA logo in Charlotte's colors

The Charlotte 49ers are the intercollegiate athletics teams that represent the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in Charlotte, North Carolina. The 49ers compete at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I level as a member of Conference USA (C-USA) in most sports. The men's soccer team joined the American Athletic Conference in July 2022,[2] one year before the rest of the athletic program joins The American.[3]

The university sponsors 18 varsity athletic teams, nine for each gender, and will also be adding a women's lacrosse team in the 2024–25 school year. The other sports sponsored are baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's golf, football, men's and women's soccer, softball, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's outdoor and indoor track and field, and women's volleyball.[4]

Overview and history


The athletics department officially changed its name to simply Charlotte in 2000.[5] Before then, the school's identity suffered from years of constant confusion, most commonly confused with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Tar Heels). 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."

While the school's legal name remains the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, it changed its academic brand name in 2021 to simply "Charlotte".[6]


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".[7]

Conference affiliations

Conference realignment

Previously, UNC Charlotte was a charter member of the Sun Belt Conference and the Metro Conference, before joining Conference USA in 1995.

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,[8] 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.[9] 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.[10]

On October 21, 2021 Charlotte was accepted along with 5 other Conference USA teams to join the American Athletic Conference, joining former Metro Conference and C-USA rivals there.[11] The 2023 entry date was officially confirmed in June 2022.[3]

Conference membership

^ Planned departure date * Planned join date

Sports sponsored

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
Baseball Basketball
Basketball Cross country
Cross country Golf
Football Soccer
Golf Softball
Soccer Tennis
Tennis Track and field
Track and field Volleyball
† – Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor


Main article: Charlotte 49ers baseball

Hayes Stadium has been the home of the 49ers' baseball team since 1984. A major renovation finished in 2008.
Hayes Stadium has been the home of the 49ers' baseball team since 1984. A major renovation finished in 2008.

Men's basketball

Main article: Charlotte 49ers men's basketball

Halton Arena has been the on-campus facility for basketball and volleyball since 1996.
Halton Arena has been the on-campus facility for basketball and volleyball since 1996.

Women's basketball

Main article: Charlotte 49ers women's basketball


Main article: Charlotte 49ers football

Jerry Richardson Stadium opened in 2013 with the 49ers' Inaugural Season.
Jerry Richardson Stadium opened in 2013 with the 49ers' Inaugural Season.

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.

Track & Field

Men's golf

Women's golf

Men's soccer

Main article: Charlotte 49ers men's soccer

Transamerica Field opened in 1996 and is used by the soccer and track and field teams.
Transamerica Field opened in 1996 and is used by the soccer and track and field teams.

Women's soccer


Main article: Charlotte 49ers softball

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.[14][15][16][17] 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.[18] 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."[19] Charlotte holds an all time record of 8-15 against Cincinnati, and haven't played each other since 2006[20]

Charlotte's 29-year men's basketball rivalry with the Davidson Wildcats sees two of the three Division I schools in Mecklenburg County go head-to-head for the Hornet's Nest Trophy. They had been the county's only D-I schools before Queens moved from NCAA Division II to the D-I ASUN Conference in 2022. Charlotte leads the series 26-11.[21] Due to a scheduling conflict, the series was on hiatus until the 2010-11 season.[22]

Recently Charlotte has started to develop a rivalry with the Appalachian State Mountaineers. 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, with games scheduled through 2030.[23]


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.

Further reading


  1. ^ 49ers Color System (PDF). Charlotte 49ers Brand Standards. June 23, 2020. Retrieved June 23, 2020.
  2. ^ "American Announces Affiliate Members in Men's Soccer and Women's Swimming and Diving" (Press release). American Athletic Conference. May 4, 2022. Retrieved May 6, 2022.
  3. ^ a b "American Announces Entrance Agreements With Incoming Members for 2023-24 Season" (Press release). American Athletic Conference. June 16, 2022. Retrieved June 16, 2022.
  4. ^ "Charlotte to Add Women's Lacrosse, Country's Fastest-Growing Sport". Charlotte Athletics. Retrieved 2022-06-05.
  5. ^ "Charlotte 49ers".
  6. ^ Limehouse, Jonathan (August 20, 2021). "'Hi, we're Charlotte': University makeover includes new logo and preferred". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  7. ^ "The Bold Rush Is On – Join Us!". Charlotte 49ers Athletics Department. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  8. ^ "Why wait? Conferences discussing '04-05 shift". 8 January 2004.
  9. ^ Charlotte accepts A-10 expansion invitation[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ McMurphy, Brett (1 May 2012). "Conference USA reloading by adding 6 schools". CBS Sports. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
  11. ^ "American Athletic Conference Announces the Addition of Six Universities". October 21, 2021. Retrieved October 21, 2021.
  12. ^ "Women's Golf Added as 18th Sport; Holly Clark Named as Head Coach". Charlotte 49ers. November 11, 2015. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  13. ^ "Charlotte 49ers".
  14. ^ "UC timid in big loss at UNCC". Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  15. ^ "BASKETBALL: COLLEGE MEN; Undefeated Bearcats Are Upset Wildcats Prevail". New York Times. January 15, 1999. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  16. ^ "Charlotte Upsets No. 8 Cincinnati, 86-83". Archived from the original on November 23, 2007. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  17. ^ "49ers Topple #18/#17 Cincinnati, 91-90". Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  18. ^ NinerOnline – The story of section 103 Archived January 8, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "Katz: New rivalries". 21 January 2005.
  20. ^ "Men's Basketball History vs University of Cincinnati".
  21. ^ 49ers game may be in doubt – again Archived December 2, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ "Welcome to nginx!". Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  23. ^ "Appalachian State, Charlotte schedule football series for 2020 and 2030". 13 August 2020.