UT Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros
UniversityUniversity of Texas Rio Grande Valley
ConferenceSouthland Conference (primary)
Western Athletic Conference (men's soccer & women's swimming and diving)
NCAADivision I (FCS, starting in 2025)
Athletic directorChasse Conque
LocationEdinburg, Texas
Varsity teams16 (8 men's, 8 women's)
Football stadiumRobert and Janet Vackar Stadium (Starting in 2025)
Basketball arenaUTRGV Fieldhouse
Baseball stadiumUTRGV Baseball Stadium
Soccer stadiumUTRGV Soccer and Track & Field Complex
Tennis venueOrville Cox Tennis Center
ColorsOrange and gray[1]

The UT Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros (often referred to as the UT–Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros, Rio Grande Vaqueros or the UTRGV Vaqueros) is a collegiate athletic program that represents the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV).[2] The Vaqueros inherited the NCAA Division I status of the Texas–Pan American Broncs and competed in the Western Athletic Conference.[3] In March 2024, it was reported that the Vaqueros would leave the WAC for the Southland Conference, beginning in the 2024-25 academic year.[4]

Conference affiliations

Varsity teams

Western Athletic Conference in Texas–Rio Grande Valley's colors

A future member of the Southland Conference, UTRGV sponsors teams in eight men's and eight women's NCAA sanctioned sports:[5]

Men's sports Women's sports
Baseball Basketball
Basketball Cross country
Cross country Golf
Golf Soccer
Soccer Tennis
Tennis Track & Field
Track & Field Volleyball
† – Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor.

National championships


Association Sport Year Opponent/Runner-up Score/Points
NAIA (6) Men's Tennis (5)
Basketball (1)
1961 Southeastern State 29–10
1962 Southeastern State 29–11
1963 East Texas State 31–16
1964 Corpus Christi 33–30
1965 East Texas State 29–15
1963 Western Carolina 73–62

Program history

Men's basketball

Main article: UT Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros men's basketball

UTPA, then Pan American College, won the 1963 NAIA Division I men's basketball tournament under Coach Sam Williams. Lucious "Luke" Jackson was one of the players on that championship team. Jackson was selected 4th overall during the 1964 NBA draft. He was selected to the 1964–65 NBA All-Rookie Team and played in the NBA All-Star Game that same year. He played his entire career with the Philadelphia 76ers.

The basketball program, during the mid-1970s was coached by Abe Lemons. Under Lemons, the program had very successful seasons but, lamentably, failed to get invited to any NCAA tournaments. Coach Lemons was later hired away by the University of Texas at Austin.

Upon Lemons' departure to the University of Texas at Austin, Bill White was named the head basketball coach. While at Pan American, Coach White led the Broncs to their first post-season tournament play at the Division I level. During the 1980–81 season, Pan American earned a berth to the 1981 National Invitation Tournament. The Broncs lost to the 1981 NIT champs, the University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane.

The basketball program was also later coached by Lon Kruger, who later went on to coach at Kansas State, Florida, Illinois, UNLV, and Oklahoma. He also coached the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA.

Women's basketball

Main article: UT Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros women's basketball

The Vaqueros began play for women's basketball in 1982. Their 10–5 record in NAIA play was their only winning season until 2014-15, when they finished 19–15 in their final season as the Broncs. They finished their season in the WAC title game, though they lost to New Mexico State 70–52. They were invited to the WBI, their first ever postseason appearance in school history. They lost to Louisiana-Lafayette 78–56 in the first round. The next year, they finished 18–13, marking the first time in program history that they had consecutive winning seasons. Though they lost in the WAC title game to New Mexico State again, they were invited to the WBI, where they lost to TCU 97–73.


On November 19, 2016, the UTRGV Women's Volleyball Team defeated the Utah Valley Woman's Volleyball team, making them the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Volleyball Champions of 2016.[6]


Main article: UT Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros baseball

The UTPA baseball squad placed 4th in the 1971 College World Series under Coach Al Ogletree.


The UTPA Tennis program won several NAIA championships (doubles and singles) from 1959 through 1962 under Coach Don Russell, who himself captured several championships while playing and coaching the team. Other prominent Bronc champions included John Sharpe and George Kon, with Sharpe and Russell winning three consecutive doubles titles together from 1959 to 1961.


Main article: UT Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros football

On January 14, 2021, news broke that UTRGV had explored to create a football program for NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision level competition by 2024.[7] At the time, it was believed that the program would compete as part of the newly reinstated football conference within the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). On December 11, 2022, Travis Bush was hired to be the first head coach of UTRGV.[8]

UTRGV has since delayed the start of varsity football to the 2025 season, though it plans to play an exhibition schedule in 2024. The school purchased H-E-B Park – later renamed to Robert and Janet Vackar Stadium – in 2024 to be the primary home of the football team in 2025. Sams Memorial Stadium will also host a game each year.[9]

The WAC merged its football league with that of the ASUN Conference (since reverted to its past name Atlantic Sun Conference) to create the United Athletic Conference (UAC) in 2023. However, the UTRGV athletic program was moved to the Southland Conference (SLC) before the football team ever played a game as a UAC member.[10]

Conference history

After becoming a four-year college in 1952, the Broncs were members of the NAIA until the 1962–63 season. The Broncs were an independent in the first year of NAIA membership. From the 1953–54 season to the 1961–62 season, the teams were members of the Big State Conference. In 1962–63, the team had a dual membership in the NAIA and NCAA College Division. The Broncs began transitioning to the NCAA University Division in 1965–66 with the tennis team. The men's basketball began its transition in 1968–69. Broncs men's basketball participated as an Independent until the 1979–80 season when the team was a member of the Trans America Athletic Conference (now known as the Atlantic Sun Conference) and returned to independent status until 1986–87. UTPA joined the American South Conference as a charter member in 1987 and remained a member until the American South Conference merged with the Sun Belt Conference in 1991. The Broncs left the Sun Belt Conference at the end of the 1997–98 season and returned to independent status.

In 2008 it was announced that the Broncs would be charter members of the previously football-only Great West Conference when it began all-sports play in 2008. During the fall of 2008, the UTPA Cross Country team was the first to win a Great West Conference team title. UTPA exited Great West Conference after the 2012–2013 season.

The UTPA Broncs were one of the newest members of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). Men's soccer returned to the athletic program in 2015, and women's soccer started in 2014.

Football is expected to join the Southland Conference when the sport is added in 2025.


  1. ^ "UTRGV Color Palette". Retrieved September 20, 2020.
  2. ^ "UT System Board of Regents Approves Images for the UTRGV Vaqueros". UTRGV Vaqueros (Press release). February 12, 2015. Archived from the original on 2021-06-21. Retrieved September 20, 2020.
  3. ^ "NCAA Division I Athletes". UTRGV Vaqueros. Archived from the original on 2015-03-19. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  4. ^ Thamel, Pete (2024-03-20). "Sources: UT Rio Grande Valley set to exit WAC for Southland". ESPN. Retrieved 2024-04-03.
  5. ^ "The Official Athletics Website of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley". UTRGV Vaqueros (Press release). Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  6. ^ "2016 WAC Volleyball". www.wacsports.com. Retrieved 2017-10-18.
  7. ^ Jeyarajah, Shehan. "UTRGV exploring adding FCS football". Dave Campbell's Texas Football. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  8. ^ Hogue, Cory (2022-12-11). "Breaking: Travis Bush to be UTRGV football head coach". Dave Campbell's Texas Football. Retrieved 2024-04-03.
  9. ^ "UTRGV announces purchase of sports, entertainment complex". UTRGV Vaqueros (Press release). 2024-02-28. Retrieved 2024-04-03.
  10. ^ "UTRGV Athletics Accepts Invitation to Join Southland Conference in 2024-25". UTRGV Vaqueros (Press release). March 25, 2024.