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4 College Freshman

Athletics: Students usually go to the football games.

3 College Junior

Athletics: It's fine, I'm in club figure skating, don't go to games much

3 College Sophomore

Athletics: One of the major deterrents for student support in sports is the off campus stadium. Ease of traveling is limited because these facilities are not within walking distance; however, the school does well to incentivize attending sport games with free gifts and spirit nights, and typically provides shuttle systems for those whom are committed.

3 College Sophomore

Athletics: We are a Big 10 school but we often lack the ability to pull the talent other state schools are able to get. Overall, sports are not a huge part of campus life, but we all go to football games and tailgates when the time comes.

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3 College Sophomore

Athletics: Our hockey program was the only thing that people cared about


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Student Author OverviewWhat's this?

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Don’t let Northwestern’s academic reputation fool you—the school is definitely a Big 10 school. Football and basketball games against major Big 10 teams like Michigan, Purdue, and Iowa (not to mention rival University of Illinois) are well attended. The football team has gone to several bowl games in recent years, and the men’s basketball team has neared a spot in the NCAA tournament. Men’s soccer is one of the best teams in the country, and women’s lacrosse won the Division I championship five straight years from 2004 to 2009, and came back to win in 2011, as well. The football team plays at Ryan Field, and the basketball and volleyball teams play at Welsh-Ryan Arena. On game days, NU provides buses to transport students to and from the field/arena, both of which are north of campus. On-campus lakeside fields are home to soccer, field hockey, and lacrosse, so you don't have to travel far to support your Wildcats!

Most football games are very well attended. The student section is tightly packed with a sea of purple shirts. As for the rest of the stadium, though, it is not uncommon to see more shirts of the opposing team’s colors. Attendance at basketball games is not quite as substantial, but students have been making more of an effort lately. Other than basketball and football, no transportation is provided to the off-campus arena, which makes it harder for students to cheer on women’s basketball and volleyball teams. At NU, sports are what you make of them. If you choose to be a die-hard Wildcat fan, you will find others like you. If not, there will be others in the same boat.

Facts & Statistics

Athletic Association
  • NAA
  • NCAA
Athletic Division
NCAA Division I-A
Athletic Conferences
Football: Big Ten Conference
Basketball: Big Ten Conference
School Colors
Purple and white
School Nickname
Men Playing Varsity Sports
236 - 6%
Women Playing Varsity Sports
238 - 5%
Students Receiving Athletic Financial Aid
Football: 84
Basketball: 26
Baseball: 23
Cross Country/Track: 11
Other Sports: 218
Graduation Rates of Athletic Financial Aid Recipients
Football: 80%
Basketball: 57%
Baseball: 100%
Cross Country/Track: 100%
Other Sports: 87%
Men's Varsity Sports
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Soccer
  • Swimming and diving
  • Tennis
  • Wrestling
Women's Varsity Sports
  • Basketball
  • Cross country
  • Fencing
  • Field hockey
  • Golf
  • Lacrosse
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Swimming and diving
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball
Club Sports
  • Aikido
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Boxing
  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
  • Cricket
  • Cycling
  • Equestrian
  • Fencing
  • Figure skating
  • Gymnastics
  • Ice hockey
  • Ju-Jutsu
  • Karate
  • Lacrosse
  • Power lifting
  • Rowing
  • Rugby
  • Sailing
  • Ski racing
  • Soccer
  • Squash
  • Swimming
  • Synchronized skating
  • Table tennis
  • Taekwondo, WTF
  • Tennis
  • Track
  • Triathlon
  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • Volleyball
  • Water polo
  • Basketball
  • Dodgeball
  • Flag football
  • Floor hockey
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • Volleyball
Athletic Fields & Facilities
  • Blomquist Recreation Center
  • Byron S. Coon Center
  • Combe Tennis Center & Vandy Christie Tennis Center
  • Henry Crown Sports Pavilion
  • Ken Kraft Wrestling Room
  • Lakeside Field
  • Leonard B. Thomas Athletic Complex
  • Luke Donald Practice Facility & Gleacher Center
  • Norris Aquatics Center
  • Patten Gymnasium
  • Rocky Miller Park
  • Ryan Field
  • Sharon J. Drysdale Field
  • Welsh-Ryan Arena
Most Popular Sports
Football and basketball command the most respect and bring in the biggest audiences.
Most Overlooked Teams
Most women's teams fade into the background, although they are among the strongest at the school. For example, the women's tennis team sends someone to the NCAA women's tennis quarterfinals every year, and the fencing team is regularly ranked among the top in the nation.
School Spirit
Students generally get excited for big basketball and football games. It is an unusual mix to have a school like Northwestern, at the top in terms of academics, to be in a conference like the Big 10. It doesn't matter if the teams do well; students will be spirited.
Getting Tickets
NU students can get in free to all regular season sporting events with their student ID. For Family Weekend, discounted tickets are offered to family members early in the school year. Other than that, tickets are usually pretty accessible to the general public and are relatively cheap.
Best Place to Take a Walk
Paths through the Lakefill. Students also like to run to the Baha'i Temple, just north of the northernmost tip of campus.

Student Polls

How popular are varsity sports on campus?    Based on 117 responses

  • 1% Almost everything on campus revolves around them.
  • 38% Varsity sports are a big part of campus life.
  • 56% Varsity sporting events are attended, but not a huge part of campus life.
  • 4% No one pays attention to varsity sports.

How popular are intramurals and club sports?    Based on 117 responses

  • 25% They are just as popular as varsity sports (or even more so).
  • 30% They are overshadowed by varsity sports, but still a big part of campus life.
  • 44% Some people participate in them, but they aren't a big part of campus life.
  • 1% Almost no one participates in them.

How would you describe the athletic facilities?    Based on 116 responses

  • 16% The athletic facilities are some of the best in the country.
  • 64% Sports are important, and the quality of facilities shows that-for both athletes and non-athletes.
  • 18% The athletic facilities are good for athletes, but only mediocre for the average students.
  • 3% The athletic facilities are relatively subpar for the demands.


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