Princeton Tigers football
2023 Princeton Tigers football team
First season1869
Athletic directorJohn Mack
Head coachBob Surace
12th season, 73–47 (.608)
StadiumPrinceton Stadium
(capacity: 27,773)
Field surfaceFieldTurf
LocationPrinceton, New Jersey
ConferenceIvy League
All-time record862–421–51 (.665)
Claimed national titles28 (1869, 1870, 1872, 1873, 1874, 1875, 1877, 1878, 1879, 1880, 1881, 1884, 1885, 1886, 1889, 1893, 1894, 1896, 1898, 1899, 1903, 1906, 1911, 1920, 1922, 1933, 1935, 1950)
Conference titles13 (1957, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1969, 1989, 1992, 1995, 2006, 2013, 2016, 2018, 2021)
RivalriesHarvard (rivalry)
Penn (rivalry)
Rutgers (rivalry)
Yale (rivalry)
Heisman winnersDick Kazmaier – 1951
Consensus All-Americans93
Current uniform
ColorsBlack and orange[1]
Fight song"Princeton Cannon Song"
Marching bandPrinceton University Band

The Princeton Tigers football program represents Princeton University and competes at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level as a member of the Ivy League. Princeton's football program—along with the football program at nearby Rutgers University—began in 1869 with a contest that is often regarded as the beginnings of American football.


See also: List of Princeton Tigers football seasons

First football game

Main article: 1869 New Jersey vs. Rutgers football game

Students from The College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) traveled to New Brunswick, New Jersey on November 6, 1869, to play Rutgers College (now Rutgers University) in a game using a modified version of London's Football Association rules. The game inlayers on each side and the round ball could only be advanced by kicking it.[2] Rutgers won what has been called the first intercollegiate American football game 6–4. Taken literally, the Princeton/Rutgers game involved a 'foot' kicking a 'ball' (sort of like soccer), hence the term 'football' that gives rise to the Princeton/Rutgers match being considered as the first game of American 'football' between two American colleges. A closer rendition of the modern game of football would come six years later in a match between Harvard and Tufts where the ball could only be advanced by running or passing, but not kicking it. A week after the Princeton/Rutgers game, the Rutgers team traveled to Princeton for a rematch, which Princeton won 8–0.

Early history

Due in part to their invention of the sport, the Tigers were one of the dominant forces in the early days of intercollegiate football, winning 22 of the first 40 national titles (1869–1909). As the sport transformed at the hands of figures like Brown University's John Heisman and Yale's Walter Camp and more schools began competing, Princeton and the rest of the eventual Ivy League faded out of national championship contention. The Tigers won their last national championship in 1950 when Dick Kazmaier, the 1951 Heisman Trophy winner, was a junior.[3]

Formation of the Ivy League

When Princeton joined Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, and Yale Universities, Dartmouth College, and the University of Pennsylvania in formally organizing the Ivy League athletic conference in 1955, conference rules prohibited post-season play in football. (Princeton never competed in the post-season.) The policy further insulated Princeton and the Ivy League from the national spotlight. Despite an undefeated season in 1964, Princeton was not among the top 10 teams in the season-ending Associated Press poll.[4]

NCAA Division I subdivision split

The NCAA split Division I collegiate football into two subdivisions in 1978, then called I-A for larger schools, and I-AA for the smaller ones. The NCAA had devised the split, in part, with the Ivy League in mind, but the conference did not move down for 4 seasons. Unable to play competitively against long-time rival Rutgers anymore, Princeton stopped scheduling them as a football opponent after 1980. Then in 1982 the NCAA created a rule that stated a program's average attendance must be at least 15,000 to qualify for I-A membership. This forced the conference's hand, as only some of the member schools met the attendance qualification. Choosing to stay together rather than stand their ground separately in the increasingly competitive I-A subdivision, the Ivy League moved down into I-AA starting with the 1982 season.[5] Despite often finishing its seasons ranked in the championship subdivision, Princeton cannot play in the NCAA Division I Football Championship per Ivy League rules.

Recent history

Since the formation of the Ivy League, Princeton has achieved moderate success on the gridiron, with 11 Ivy League championships, three outright and eight shared, and 10 Big Three championships since 1955. In 2009, Princeton hired Bob Surace.[6] Surace was an All-Ivy league center at Princeton and graduated in 1990.

Before the start of the 2020 season, the Ivy League announced that no sports would be played until January 1, 2021, at the earliest, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. [7] As it turns out, in 2021 the Princeton Tigers did in fact play a full schedule.


National championships

Princeton has won 28 national championships from NCAA-designated major selectors.[8][9]: 110–112  Although they do not compete in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, they maintain claims to titles won at the highest level at the time, with retroactive championships for the 19th century, in which Princeton was declared champion for 20 different seasons in a 30-year span from 1869 to 1899. All except the last title were won in the era prior to the Associated Press poll selecting champions starting in 1936, with the final national championship claim coming from a different poll than the Associated Press. On some occasions, Princeton shared a championships with other teams, with as many as four other teams claiming a championship for certain years, such as 1922, when six teams were given a title in some form with only one tie separating the five unbeaten teams including Princeton. Princeton claims all 28 titles.[10]

Season Coach Selector Record
1869 No coach Billingsley Report, National Championship Foundation, Parke Davis 1–1
1870 Billingsley Report, National Championship Foundation, Parke Davis 1–0
1872 Billingsley Report, National Championship Foundation, Parke Davis 1–0
1873 Billingsley Report, National Championship Foundation, Parke Davis 1–0
1874 Billingsley Report, Parke Davis 2–0
1875 Billingsley Report, Parke Davis 2–0
1877 Billingsley Report, Parke Davis 2–0–1
1878 Billingsley Report, National Championship Foundation, Parke Davis 6–0
1879 Billingsley Report, National Championship Foundation, Parke Davis 4–0–1
1880 National Championship Foundation, Parke Davis 4–0–1
1881 Billingsley Report, Parke Davis 7–0–2
1884 Billingsley Report, Parke Davis 9–0–1
1885 Billingsley Report, Helms Athletic Foundation, Houlgate System, National Championship Foundation, Parke Davis 9–0
1886 Billingsley Report, Parke Davis 7–0–1
1889 Billingsley Report, Helms, Houlgate, National Championship Foundation, Parke Davis 10–0
1893 Billingsley Report, Helms, Houlgate, National Championship Foundation 11–0
1894 Houlgate 8–2
1896 Franklin Morse Billingsley Report, Helms, Houlgate, National Championship Foundation, Parke Davis 10–0–1
1898 No coach Parke Davis 11–0–1
1899 Billingsley, Parke Davis 12–1
1903 Art Hillebrand Billingsley, Helms, Houlgate, National Championship Foundation, Parke Davis 11–0
1906 Bill Roper Helms, National Championship Foundation 9–0–1
1911 Billingsley MOV, Helms, Houlgate, National Championship Foundation, Parke Davis 8–0–2
1920 Boand System, Parke Davis 6–0–1
1922 Boand, College Football Researchers Association, National Championship Foundation, Parke Davis, Sagarin-ELO) 8–0
1933 Fritz Crisler Parke Davis 9–0
1935 Dunkel System 9–0
1950 Charlie Caldwell Boand, Poling System 9–0

Conference championships

Princeton has won 12 conference championships, with four outright and eight shared.

Year Conference Coach Overall record Conference record
1957 Ivy League Dick Colman 7–2 6–1
1963† 7–2 5–2
1964 9–0 7–0
1966† 7–2 6–1
1969† Jake McCandless 6–3 6–1
1989† Steve Tosches 7–2–1 6–1
1992† 8–2 6–1
1995 8–1–1 5–1–1
2006 Roger Hughes 9–1 6–1
2013 Bob Surace 8–2 6–1
2016 8–2 6–1
2018 10–0 7–0
2021 9–1 6–1

† Co-championship



Main article: Harvard–Princeton football rivalry

Princeton leads the series with Harvard 55–48–7.


Main article: Penn–Princeton football rivalry


This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources in this section. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (September 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this message)

Main article: Princeton–Rutgers rivalry

Princeton has an historical rivalry with Rutgers (1869–1980).[11]


Main article: Princeton–Yale football rivalry

Stadium and facilities

Palmer Stadium

In 1914, Princeton built Palmer Stadium, the third college football stadium ever built and what was the second oldest standing college stadium until its demolition in 1996. Palmer Stadium was modeled after the Greek Olympic stadium and seated 45,750 spectators. In the 1990s the university decided to demolish it for a new stadium rather than undertake a long and expensive renovation process, as Harvard had with its stadium in 1984.

Princeton Stadium

Princeton Stadium

During the construction of the new stadium, the Tigers played a season of nine away games, plus a homecoming game against Yale at Giants Stadium in 1997. Princeton Stadium opened on September 19, 1998, and seats 27,773. After eight years of natural grass fields, FieldTurf artificial playing surface was installed for the 2006 football season and the field was named "Powers Field" in honor of William C. Powers, Princeton class of 1979, who was an All-Ivy punter for the Tigers and donated $10 million to the football program that year.

Practice facilities

The Finney-Campbell practice fields to the east of Princeton University Stadium have been outfitted with FieldTurf. They consist of nearly 1,600 square feet (150 m2) of playing surface, with two full football fields and lines for men's and women's lacrosse.

Future non-conference opponents

Announced schedules as of May 24, 2024.[12]

2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031
at Lehigh San Diego at Bryant Lehigh at Lehigh Lehigh at North Carolina A&T North Carolina A&T
Howard at Lafayette Lafayette at Lafayette Monmouth at Monmouth
at Mercer Mercer at Wagner Wagner at Howard Howard


  1. ^ "Logo & Brand Assets | Princeton University Office of Communications". Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  2. ^ Elliott, Len. One Hundred Years of Princeton Footballeton University. Princeton, NJ. p. 3.
  3. ^ Princeton Office of Athletic Communications, Princeton Football Media Guide 2009
  4. ^ "College Football". Archived from the original on June 30, 2007.
  5. ^ Mark F. Bernstein, Football: The Ivy League Origins of an American Obsession
  6. ^ "Bob Surace '90 named new head football coach". Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  7. ^ West, Jenna. "Ivy League to Postpone Fall Athletics, No Date Set for Return". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved July 8, 2020.
  8. ^ Christopher J. Walsh (2007). Who's #1?: 100-Plus Years of Controversial National Champions in College Football. Taylor Trade Pub. p. 126. ISBN 978-1-58979-337-8.
  9. ^ 2017 NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Records (PDF). The National Collegiate Athletic Association. July 2017. Retrieved July 31, 2017.
  10. ^ "Princeton Football National Championships". Go Princeton Tigers. Princeton University. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  11. ^ White, JR, Gordon S. (January 22, 1979). "Princeton-Rutgers to end football rivalry". The Day. New London, CT. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  12. ^ "Princeton Tigers Football Future Schedules". Retrieved May 24, 2024.