Drake Bulldogs
UniversityDrake University
ConferenceMissouri Valley Conference
Pioneer Football League
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
Summit League
NCAADivision I (FCS)
Athletic directorBrian Hardin
LocationDes Moines, Iowa
Varsity teams18
Football stadiumDrake Stadium (football, track)
Basketball arenaKnapp Center
MascotSpike (costumed)
Griff II(live)[1]
ColorsBlue and white[2]

The Drake Bulldogs are the intercollegiate athletics teams that represent Drake University, located in Des Moines, Iowa, United States. The Bulldogs' athletic program is a member of the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) [3] and competes at the NCAA Division I level.[4] Drake also sponsors teams in the Pioneer Football League, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, and Summit League. Drake's live bulldog mascot is Griff II; the costumed mascot is Spike; and the school colors are blue and white.

Sports sponsored

Drake University athletics began in 1893. and since 1910, the school has been home to and sponsor of what has become one of the world's premier collegiate athletic events, the annual Drake Relays track and field meet held in April.

Men's sports Women's sports
Basketball Basketball
Cross country Cross country
Football Golf
Golf Rowing
Soccer Soccer
Tennis Softball
Track and field Tennis
Track and field
† – Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor.

Drake Bulldogs history

Drake University began its athletics program in 1893 with football, baseball, and men's track.[5] The men's basketball program began in 1906. In 1907, Drake joined the Missouri Valley Conference, having previously played as an independent. The teams were known as "The Drakes" until 1908, when John L. Griffith, the newly appointed football coach, brought English Bulldogs to the sidelines of games, prompting Des Moines Register sports editor Art Gordon to dub the teams "the Bulldogs". Drake's current live mascot, Griff, is named for Griffith as a result.[1]

Griffith was later instrumental in another major component of Drake athletics when he organized the first Drake Relays in 1910. The Relays moved to Drake Stadium when it opened in 1925.

Drake played the first-ever night game at Soldier Field in 1930, falling to Oregon 14-7.

Drake won the national championships for cross country in 1944, 1945, and 1946, with Fred Feiler winning the individual titles in 1944 and 1945. Feiler became the second Bulldog to win an individual national championship, joining 1935 high jump champion Linn Philson; Drake would later see Jim Ford (1952, 200 meters) and Rick Wanamaker (decathlon, 1970) win individual track titles.

On October 20, 1951, Drake's black football star Johnny Bright was assaulted in a game at Oklahoma A&M (now known as Oklahoma State). As a result of the incident and the failure of the Missouri Valley Conference to take action against Oklahoma A&M or the offending player, Drake and fellow conference member Bradley both withdrew from the conference. Bright would finish 5th in the balloting for the Heisman Trophy.[6] Drake rejoined the Missouri Valley Conference for non-football sports in 1956.[7]

In 1969, the men’s basketball team advanced to the national semifinals, losing narrowly to UCLA. Legend Dolph Pulliam becomes the first athlete to be selected in both the NBA and NFL drafts. Pulliam was drafted by the Boston Celtics and Dallas Cowboys in 1969.

Football returned to the MVC in 1971, 20 years after the Bright incident. Baseball was dropped in 1974.[8] Following changes in NCAA regulation in 1985, football was briefly dropped before returning as a non-scholarship Division III sport; it later returned to Division I but remains non-scholarship.

Alumnus Zach Johnson has won two major championships, the 2007 Masters and the 2015 Open Championship.


Drake Relays

Main article: Drake Relays

Drake University also hosts the Drake Relays during April. This track and field event has been held since 1910, and, after the NCAA Championships, is the second-largest collegiate track and field event in the United States. Participants come from all over the world to compete in this three-day event, which also helps to draw large crowds of spectators to Des Moines. Many Olympic athletes can be found participating in these events, which commonly break national and world records.


Facility Year Opened Sport Capacity
Drake Stadium 1925 Football, Track & Field 14,557
Knapp Center 1992 Basketball, Volleyball 7,152
Rodger Knapp Tennis Center 1992 Tennis 1,000
Buel Field 2005 Softball 1,000
James W. Cownie Soccer Complex 1998 Soccer 2,000
Ewing Park N/A Cross Country N/A

Notable Bulldogs


  1. ^ a b "Drake welcomes live mascot Griff | Newsroom | Drake University". News.drake.edu. October 8, 2015. Retrieved March 18, 2017.
  2. ^ Drake University Brand Style Guide 2020 (PDF). Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  3. ^ "This is the Missouri Valley Conference". Missouri Valley Conference. Archived from the original on September 15, 2015. Retrieved October 16, 2015.
  4. ^ "Bradley University". NCAA. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  5. ^ "Drake Yearly Results" (PDF). Cfbdatawarehouse.com. Retrieved March 18, 2017.
  6. ^ "Johnny Bright | Drake Heritage Collection". Lib.drake.edu. Retrieved March 18, 2017.
  7. ^ "Drake Returns To Conference". Kansas City, Missouri: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. August 30, 1955. p. 21. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |url= (help)
  8. ^ "Drake Times-Delphic, vol. 93 no. 22 – November 22, 1974 :: Drake University Student Newspapers". Cdm15183.contentdm.oclc.org. November 22, 1974. Retrieved January 25, 2013.