Colorado Buffaloes
UniversityUniversity of Colorado Boulder
ConferencePac-12 (primary)
Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (indoor track & field)
Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association (skiing)
NCAADivision I (FBS)
Athletic directorRick George
LocationBoulder, Colorado
Varsity teams16
Football stadiumFolsom Field
Basketball arenaCU Events Center
Soccer stadiumPrentup Field
MascotRalphie - (live bison)
Chip - (costumed mascot)
Fight songFight CU
ColorsSilver, black, and gold[1]

The Colorado Buffaloes are the athletic teams that represent the University of Colorado Boulder. The university sponsors 16 varsity sports teams. Both the men's and women's teams are called the Buffaloes (Buffs for short) or, rarely, the Golden Buffaloes.[2] "Lady Buffs" referred to the women's teams beginning in the 1970s, but was officially dropped in 1993.[2] The nickname was selected by the campus newspaper in a contest with a $5 prize in 1934 won by Andrew Dickson of Boulder.

The university participates as a member of the Pac-12 Conference (Big 12 Conference beginning July 1, 2024) at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level.[3] Rick George was announced as the sixth athletic director in program history on July 17, 2013,[4] following the resignation of Mike Bohn, and after an interim appointment by former Women's Basketball Head Coach former deputy athletic director Ceal Barry. Colorado has won 29 national championships in its history, with 20 in skiing, the most recent coming in 2015. It was ranked #14 of "America's Best Sports College" in a 2002 analysis performed by Sports Illustrated.[5]

Colorado does not have intercollegiate men's programs in baseball, tennis, soccer, lacrosse, or volleyball. There is no women's softball program, one of three Pac-12 members without.


Competitive football began on the Boulder campus in 1890. Early games, which bore more resemblance to rugby than modern football, were played against the School of Mines and Utah. The football stadium, originally "Colorado Stadium," was opened in 1924 and was officially renamed Folsom Field in November 1944 to honor Coach Fred Folsom, one of the most respected college football coaches of his day.

In 1934, the university's intercollegiate teams were officially nicknamed the "Buffaloes." Previous nicknames used by the press included the "Silver Helmets" and "Frontiersmen." The final game of 1934, against the University of Denver, saw also the inaugural running of a bison in a Colorado football game. A bison calf was rented from a local ranch and ran along the sidelines.

The year 1947 marked key point in race relations on campus. The Buffaloes joined the Big Eight Conference. However, Missouri and Oklahoma had rules which would not have allowed them to challenge teams with "colored" players. A student outcry, led by campus paper Silver and Gold, led to a movement against these Jim Crow restrictions which expanded to all the campuses of the Big 7 and eventually led to their repeal.

On June 10, 2010, the Buffaloes announced that they would join the Pacific-10 Conference, soon renamed the Pac-12 Conference, in all sports beginning on July 1, 2011.[6]

On July 27, 2023, the Buffaloes announced that they would rejoin the Big 12 Conference in all sports beginning in the 2024–25 academic year.[7]

Varsity sports

Men's sports Women's sports
Basketball Basketball
Cross country Cross country
Football Golf
Golf Lacrosse
Track and field Soccer
Track and field
Co-ed sports
† – Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor.

The University of Colorado was a member of the Colorado Football Association in 1893, and became a charter member of the Colorado Faculty Athletic Conference in 1909, which changed its name a year later to Rocky Mountain Faculty Athletic Conference. Colorado left the RMFAC to become a charter member of the Mountain States Conference (a.k.a. Skyline Conference) in 1938. CU joined the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1947, then commonly known as the Big Six, changing the common name to the Big Seven. In 1958, the conference added OSU to become the Big Eight Conference. It remained the Big 8 until 1996, when it combined with four member schools of the defunct Southwest Conference (Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and Baylor) to create the Big 12 Conference.

On July 1, 2011, the school joined the Pac-12 Conference, along with Utah. A total of 12 of CU's 17 varsity sports compete in the Pac-12, except the ski teams, indoor track & field teams and the lacrosse team. The ski teams participate in the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association (RMISA), of which it has been a member since 1947, along with fellow Pac-12 newcomer Utah. The indoor track & field teams participate in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) as the Pac-12 doesn't sponsor indoor track. Women's lacrosse was added in the spring of 2014; that team competed in the MPSF until the Pac-12 Conference added women's lacrosse as a sport for the 2018 season.[8]

Colorado is the only Pac-12 school and one of only four Power 5 schools that do not sponsor baseball, along with Iowa State, Syracuse, and Wisconsin. CU does not have a women's softball program, one of three Pac-12 members (USC, Washington State) opting not to participate.


Main article: Colorado Buffaloes football

Quarterback Sefo Liufau passing at Michigan in 2016

The Colorado football program is 16th on the all-time NCAA Division I win list and 22nd in all-time winning percentage (.614). Since Folsom Field was built in 1924, the Buffaloes have been 280–132–10 (.675) at home. The Nebraska game in 2006 was CU's 1100th football game. Bill McCartney is the most famous head coach, leading Colorado to its only national championship in 1990. Current head coach Deion Sanders was approved by the university's board of regents in December 2022.[9]

Beginning competitive play in 1890, Colorado has enjoyed much success through its history. The team has won numerous bowl games (27 appearances in bowl games (12-15), 23rd (tied) all-time prior to 2004 season), 8 Colorado Football Association Championships (1894–97, 1901–08), 1 Colorado Faculty Athletic Conference (1909), 7 RFMAC Championships (1911, 1913, 1923, 1924, 1934, 1935, 1937), 4 Mountain States Conference Championships (1939, 1942–44), 5 Big Eight (Six) conference championships (1961, 1976, 1989, 1990, 1991), 1 Big 12 conference championship (2001), 4 Big 12 North Championships (2001, 2002, 2004, 2005), and an Associated Press national championship in 1990. The team holds rivalries with Nebraska, Colorado State, and Utah.

Men's basketball

Main article: Colorado Buffaloes men's basketball

1906 Colorado Buffaloes basketball team.

They play at the CU Events Center on campus and are 465-179 (.722) at home, through the 2020-21 season, including 139-24 (.853) in 11 years under coach Tad Boyle.

Data through 2022–23 season
Coach Years Seasons Won Lost Pct. Conf. Titles NCAA NIT
Ricardo Patton 1996–2007 11 184 160 .535 0 2 3
Jeff Bzdelik 2007–2010 3 36 58 .383 0 0 0
Tad Boyle 2010–present 13 272 172 .613 1 6 4
Totals 121 1,399 1,263 .526

¹ Invitations

Women's basketball

Main article: Colorado Buffaloes women's basketball

Women's Basketball started at Colorado in 1975. The team has had seven coaches and the current coach is JR Payne.


The CU ski team competes as a member of the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association, as CU is one of two members of the Big-12 along with Utah that competes in skiing. Colorado is one of the dominant programs in the NCAA in skiing, winning 21 total national championships, including 20 NCAA Championships, most recently in 2024. The Buffaloes have won 29 RMISA championships, most recently in 2024. The Buffaloes have had 53 individuals connected to the school participate in the Olympics 85 times. Colorado has had 105 individual national champions, including Magnus Boee men's Nordic titles in 2021(2), and 2024 (20k), Cassidy Gray winning the women's GS championship in 2021, and Magdalena Luczak sweeping the alpine events in 2024. [10]

Cross country

Main article: Colorado Buffaloes cross country

Boulder's high elevation of 5,400 feet (1,650 m) adds aerobic stress to distance runners and is known to produce a competitive edge when altitude-trained athletes compete at sea level. The 1998 cross country team was the subject of a book, Running with the Buffaloes, which documents the team's training regimen under long-time coach Mark Wetmore. Colorado has won five NCAA Men's Cross Country Championships (2001, 2004, 2006, 2013, and 2014) and three NCAA Women's Cross Country Championships (2000, 2004, 2018). The men's team also has won four individual titles (Mark Scrutton, Adam Goucher, Jorge Torres, and Dathan Ritzenhein), while the women's side has won two (Kara Goucher, Dani Jones).

The men won the first twelve Big 12 Conference titles in the conference's history and the women won 11 of the first 12 (all but 1998-99), with the two teams combining for 23 of the 32 championships awarded before the Buffs left the Big 12 in 2011 to join the Pac-12. Since joining the Pac-12 Conference, the Colorado men won their first six conference titles (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016) and the Colorado women have claimed four conference titles, including three consecutive following a shot lapse (2011, 2015, 2016, 2017).


The Colorado Buffaloes baseball team was discontinued after the 1980 season.[11] Baseball, wrestling, men's and women's gymnastics, men's and women's swimming, and women's diving comprised the seven programs that were discontinued on June 11, 1980, due to budget cuts.[11][12][13] Colorado is the only Pac-12 school and one of only four Power 5 schools that do not sponsor baseball, the other three being Iowa State, Syracuse and Wisconsin.

Men's golf

The men's golf team won three Big Eight Conference championships: 1954, 1955 (co-champions), 1968. Hale Irwin won the 1967 NCAA Championship.

Club sports

Colorado has a very active and developed club sports system with over 30 sports.

Men's rugby

Colorado's rugby program was founded in 1967. The Buffaloes play in the Western Division of Division I-A, where they play against local rivals such as Colorado State and less localized teams like the New Mexico and Utah State.[14] The Buffaloes are led by head coach Murray Wallace, assisted by John Barkmeier Chris Dyas, Justin Holshuh, Conor Sears, and Steve Brown. Kevin Whitcher coaches the Buffaloes sevens team.[15] The Buffaloes have consistently been ranked among the top college rugby teams in the country.

Colorado's best run was 1984–1985, when it reached the 1984 national finals before losing 12-4 to powerhouse Cal, and finished third in the 1985 national playoffs losing again to eventual champion Cal, this time in the semifinals.[16] More recently, in 2008 the Buffaloes went 15-3 and reached the semifinals of the national championships.[17] Colorado won the 2011 Pac-12 rugby sevens tournament, defeating Utah 14–12 in the final,[18] to qualify for the 2011 USA Rugby collegiate rugby sevens national championship. Colorado finished the 2011–12 season ranked 14th in the nation.[19] In the 2012–13 season, Colorado defeated Wisconsin 54-24 to advance to the national D1-A quarterfinals, before losing to St. Mary's.[20] The Buffs also won the plate final in the 2015–2016 season at the Las Vegas Invitational 7s tournament in the college bracket. Most recently the Buffs lost in the plate final to Clemson in the inaugural international Red Bull University Sevens tournament.[21]


Founded in 1983 by Jim Castagneri, the cycling team was taken to the national championships in 1987 by 1992 Olympian John Stenner. The CU cycling team frequently ranks in the top five USA Cycling Collegiate teams in both road cycling and mountain biking disciplines. They have won the national championship on several occasions, including 2005, when they won in both disciplines.[22] Many members of the club have gone on into professional cycling, including Sepp Kuss and Tyler Hamilton.

A founding club member of the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Cycling Conference,[23] the team is open to any student who pays annual dues and meets a minimum amount of credits during the semester. The members include nearly every different type of cyclist, from BMX riders, trials, and bicycle commuters to elite amateur or part-time professional road and mountain riders. Specifically, to qualify for road or mountain nationals, a rider must have enough high race results to upgrade to "A" category in the USA Cycling rankings. A number of "A" riders will be chosen by the coaches to represent CU at the national championships. The number of riders the team is allowed to send is based on how well the team did overall during the season.


NCAA team championships

Colorado has won 28 national championships.[24]

Other national team championships


The University has had several fight songs that have lost and gained popularity over the years. The oldest, "Glory Colorado", is sung to the tune of "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and has been around nearly as long as the school. Glory Colorado is considered to represent all campuses of the University. "Go Colorado" was originally sung exclusively by the Glee Club at football games, though it is now played and known almost exclusively by members of the Golden Buffalo Marching Band. The most popular of the three fight songs and the most widely recognized is "Fight CU." Originally sung by the football team, the song has gained enough popularity that few people outside the band know that it is not the only fight song of the university. The original version included the line "fight, fight for every yard" but the line was changed to "fight, fight for victory" to allow the song to be used for all sports, not just football.


The two mascots present at all football games are Ralphie,[25] a live buffalo, and Chip, a costumed mascot who was selected to the 2003 Capital One All-America Mascot Team and won the 2009, 2010 and 2020 UCA Mascot National Championships. Ralphie is actually Ralphie VI and leads the football team onto the field at the beginning of the first and second halves. A buffalo leading the team onto the field dates as far back as 1934 and the Ralphie tradition began in 1966. In 1934 after the selection of Buffaloes as a nickname when a group of students paid $25 to rent a buffalo calf and cowboy as his keeper for the last game of the season. The calf was the son of Killer, a famed bison at Trails End Ranch in Fort Collins, Colorado. It took the cowboy and four students to keep the calf under control on the sidelines during the game, a 7–0 win at the University of Denver on Thanksgiving Day.


The official school colors are silver and gold, adopted in 1888 as a symbol of the mineral wealth of the state. In 1959, the athletic teams started using black and yellow, because silver and gold ended up looking like dirty white and dirty yellow. The colors have stuck and many are unaware that the official school colors are silver and gold.

On May 28, 1981, black was curiously replaced by "Sky Blue" by a mandate of the CU Board of Regents, to represent the color of the Colorado sky.[2][26] However, this color was different from the blue uniforms of the U.S. Air Force Academy. After three years, the blue was changed in 1984 to a darker shade, though still unpopular. In black and white photographs the players' numbers are nearly invisible. During a difficult 1-10 season in 1984, football head coach Bill McCartney employed black "throwback" jerseys for an emotional lift for the games against Oklahoma and Nebraska, without success.

In April 1985, the CU athletic teams were given the option of blue or black. The football team chose to wear black, and at Folsom Field the background for the signature "Colorado" arc (at the base of the seats behind the south end zone), blue for four years, was repainted black as well. On the football uniforms, the blue was reduced to a stripe on the sleeve for three seasons (1985–87) before being dropped completely in 1988. In 2007, CU debuted new football jerseys that reintegrated silver as a uniform color.[27]


Facility Name Teams Capacity Largest Crowd Opened
Folsom Field football 50,183 54,972 (9/3/05 vs. Colorado State) 1924
CU Events Center basketball, volleyball 11,064 11,708 (12/05/12 vs. Colorado State) 1979
Prentup Field soccer 800 1,871 2004
Potts Field track and field 2,784 (Single Day); 6,000+ (3 Day total)
(during 2008 Big 12 Track and Field Championships)
Balch Fieldhouse indoor track 4,000 1937
South Campus Tennis Complex tennis 2003
Buffalo Ranch CC Course cross country
Colorado National Golf Course golf
Eldora Mountain Resort skiing 1962

University of Colorado Athletic Hall of Fame

See also: Hall of fame

Criteria for automatic selection: Three-time all-conference selection, two-time All-American, trophy winner or previously retired jersey. Beginning in 2015, the school went from a two-year to one year induction cycle to catch up on its history.[28] Inductees are nominated by their peers in the Alumni C Club or by members of the selection committee.[28]

Notable alumni


  1. ^ University of Colorado at Boulder NIL Brand Guidelines (PDF). January 28, 2022. Retrieved July 28, 2023.
  2. ^ a b c "CU Logo Evolution Fact Sheet". Retrieved 2007-01-09.
  3. ^ "University of Colorado Joins Pac-10" (Press release). Pac-12 Conference. June 10, 2010. Retrieved December 31, 2016.
  4. ^ "Brooks: Rick George Eager To Embrace Changes At CU - | University of Colorado Buffaloes Athletics". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2016-09-12.
  5. ^ "America's Best Sports Colleges". Sports Illustrated. October 7, 2002. Retrieved 2007-06-20.
  6. ^ "University of Colorado at Boulder Joins Pac-10" (Press release). University of Colorado at Boulder. June 10, 2010. Retrieved December 31, 2016.
  7. ^ Snyder, Curtis (July 27, 2023). "Colorado To Join Big 12 Conference In 2024-25". University of Colorado Athletics.
  8. ^ href= Archived 2016-12-20 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Howell, Brian (22 December 2022). "Regents approve contract for CU Buffs head coach Deion Sanders". BuffZone. Retrieved 29 December 2022.
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b Looney, Douglas S. (October 6, 1980). "There ain't no more gold in them thar hills". Sports Illustrated. p. 30.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-08. Retrieved 2011-07-01.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "Colorado gets rid of seven minor sports". Lawrence Journal-World. (Kansas). Associated Press. June 12, 1980. p. 13.
  14. ^ USA Rugby, College Conferences, Archived 2016-09-13 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ CU Men's Rugby, Coaches
  16. ^ National Collegiate Rugby Championship results
  17. ^ CU Rugby, About,
  18. ^ Colorado Men's Rugby Wins Pac-12 7s Tournament, Oct. 25, 2011,
  19. ^ Rugby Mag, Final 2012 D1-A College Rankings, May 20, 2012, Archived 2012-05-24 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ D1A Rugby, Colorado Dancing, April 20, 2013,
  21. ^ Rugby Today, Archived 2016-10-06 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ "About" CU Cycling Team. Web. August 5, 2011. < Archived January 13, 2012, at the Wayback Machine>."
  23. ^ "RMCCC – Home of the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Cycling Conference".
  24. ^ "Championships summary through Jan. 1, 2022" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2014-03-20. Retrieved 2015-02-25.
  25. ^ College football's 12 coolest mascots: 1. Ralphie the Buffalo, Colorado Archived 2010-09-02 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
  26. ^ "Colorado". Helmet Hut. Retrieved 2006-12-31.
  27. ^ CU Unveils New Football Uniforms -—Official Athletics Web site of the University of Colorado Archived June 6, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Athletic Hall Of Fame To Welcome 11 Buff Legends". 2015-05-11. Retrieved 2015-05-19.
  29. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq "Colorado Athletic Hall of Fame". Archived from the original on 2014-07-16. Retrieved 2014-05-19. "Colorado Athletic Hall of Fame". 2006-09-14. Archived from the original on 2014-07-16. Retrieved 2014-05-19.