Evansville Purple Aces

Evansville Purple Aces
University University of Evansville
Conference Missouri Valley
NCAA Division I
Athletic director Mark Spencer
Location Evansville, Indiana
Varsity teams 14
Basketball arena Ford Center
Baseball stadium Charles H. Braun Stadium
Mascot Ace Purple
Nickname Purple Aces
Colors Purple, White, and Orange
Website www.gopurpleaces.com

The Evansville Purple Aces are the intercollegiate sports teams and players of the University of Evansville, located in Evansville, Indiana, United States. The Aces athletic program is a member of the Missouri Valley Conference[1] and competes at the NCAA's Division I level.[2] Evansville's mascot is Ace Purple, and the school colors are purple, white and orange.

Prior to joining Division I in 1977, the Aces were in the Division II men's basketball championship tournaments fifteen of twenty years and won the title in 1959, '60, '64, '65, and '71.[3]


Moores Hill College moved to Evansville and became Evansville College in 1919. The athletics program was begun with the opening of the new campus.

A member of the Missouri Valley Conference, the University of Evansville sponsors teams in six men's and eight women's NCAA sanctioned sports:[4]

Men's Intercollegiate Sports Team Article Head Coach Women's Intercollegiate Sports Team Article Head Coach
Baseball Wes Carroll Basketball Oties Epps
Basketball Purple Aces men's basketball Marty Simmons Cross Country Don Walters
Cross Country Don Walters Golf Jim Hamilton
Golf Jim Hamilton Soccer Krista McKendree
Soccer Purple Aces men's soccer Marshall Ray Softball Mat Mundell
Swimming & Diving [v 1] Rickey Perkins Swimming & Diving Rickey Perkins
Tennis Jayson Wiseman
Volleyball Manolo Concepción
  1. The men's swim team competes as an affiliate member of the Mid-American Conference.[5]



The University of Evansville's nickname, the Aces, was acquired after an opposing coach cracked a joke after losing to the Evansville College Pioneers in the 1920s. Dan Scism, the sportswriter credited with first using the name 'Aces' in headlines, said he did so at the suggestion of basketball coach John Harmon in 1926. "Prior to that the Aces had been called Pioneers," Scism said, "but Coach Harmon suggested I call them the Aces because he was told by Louisville's coach that he didn't have four aces up his sleeve, he had five!"

Forty years after Aces came into being, mascot 'Ace Purple' was created by Evansville Press artist Larry Hill. Ace Purple is a turn-of-the century riverboat gambler, appropriate since Evansville is located on the banks of the Ohio River. However, the first Ace Purple was a rough, mean-looking character who did not go over well with Aces' fans. Artist Keith Butz softened 'Ace' in 1977 into a smiling, friendly figure who remains popular with young and old alike.

Intercollegiate sports


Evansville first baseman John Day holds an Arkansas runner on first base in Baum Stadium

Four players from the Purple Aces baseball team have appeared in Major League Baseball: Andy Benes, Sal Fasano, Jamey Carroll, and Rob Maurer.

Men's basketball

The memorial display case at the Ford Center honoring UE's championship tradition

The University of Evansville athletics department was built upon a foundation of success in men's basketball. In the early years of the men's basketball program the Purple Aces appeared in the NAIA national tournament. The Purple Aces appeared 4 times in the NAIA Tournament (1941, 1942, 1951, and 1955). The Purple Aces had a NAIA tournament record of 3-4. The furthest distance Evansville got in the NAIA tournaments was in third round (NAIA Quarterfinals) in 1951, only to lose to Regis University (Colo.) 70-68.[6]

Shortly after the 1955 season the Purple Aces would move up to the NCAA College Division, now called NCAA Division II. The Evansville Purple Aces won five national championships in the NCAA College Division: 1959, 1960, 1964, 1965 (29-0 record) and 1971. This ranks second all-time.

In 1977 UE began playing in NCAA Division I athletics. That same year on December 13, a chartered DC-3 carrying the entire UE basketball team crashed in a field near the Evansville Regional Airport en route to a game against Middle Tennessee State. Every member of the team and coaching staff on the plane was killed. Legendary Aces coach Arad McCutchan, had retired after the previous season and was not on the plane. McCutchan was the first NCAA College Division coach selected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.[7] One player was not able to attend the game and thus was not on the plane; not long after the plane crash, however, the player who was not on the plane was killed in a car accident along with his younger brother.

Tremendous community support brought back the basketball program the next year. Evansville was a charter member of the Midwest Collegiate Conference, now known as the Horizon League. The Aces won or shared the MCC regular season title in 1982, 1987, 1989, 1992, and 1993. They also won the conference tournament title in 1982, 1992, and 1993. The Aces are now a member of the Missouri Valley Conference, and won the 1999 regular season title.

The Purple Aces have made five trips to the NCAA Men's basketball tournament (1982, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1999)[8] two trips to the NIT (1998, 1994),[9] three trips to the CollegeInsider.com (CIT) tournament (2009, 2013, and Champions in 2015),[10] and two trips to the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) tournament (2011 and 2012).[11]

Women's basketball

The University of Evansville women's basketball team (the Lady Aces) have made two trips to the NCAA basketball tournament (1999, 2009).[12]


The Purple Aces were a fully funded NCAA Division I AA (now FCS) program in the non-scholarship Pioneer League until 1997. Talk existed since about 2007 about upgrading football again to a fully funded NCAA Division I team, but, after a year of investigation, the Board of Trustees voted against this in October 2012 as currently being too expensive.[13]

Bowl games

Season Bowl Champion Runner-Up
1948 Refrigerator Bowl Evansville 13 Missouri Valley 7
1949 Refrigerator Bowl Evansville 22 Hillsdale 7
1974 College Division Cup Central College (Iowa) 17 Evansville 16

School spirit

In 2000, the University adopted a new athletics logo that did away with the old Ace Purple logo (pictured). However, the University made sure that Ace Purple remained as a big part of home athletic events. To this day, a University of Evansville student is chosen during try-outs in August to don the Ace Purple mascot costume at all major home athletic events.

The athletic teams are supported by the university's dance team, cheer squad, and a pep band, the Aces Brass.

See also


  1. "This is the Missouri Valley Conference". Missouri Valley Conference. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
  2. "University of Evansville". NCAA. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
  3. "Men's Basketball Championship History". NCAA. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
  4. "University of Evansville Purple Aces". gopurpleaces.com. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  5. "Affiliate Members". Mid-American Conference. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
  6. NAIA Championship History Archived March 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. "NCAA.com – The Official Website of NCAA Championships". NCAA.com. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  8. NCAA Basketball History
  9. "NIT Tournament Home". NCAA.com. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  10. "Postseason Tournament". CollegeInsider.com. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
  11. "College Basketball Invitational". Gazelle Group, Inc. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
  12. NCAA Women's Basketball History
  13. "University of Evansville officially says no to football". Evansville Courier & Press. October 23, 2012. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
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