Archival SCU Sports photo from De Saisset exhibit

Archival SCU Sports photo from De Saisset exhibit

99 Years of Bronco Sports

The fascinating history of SCU Athletics is featured in the de Saisset's exhibit On Top of the Game, on display through June 12, 2016.

The de Saisset’s new exhibit showcases 99 years of Santa Clara sports, 1851 to 1950, tracing the evolution of athletics from the earliest days of Santa Clara College to some of the glory days of Santa Clara University.

The exhibit, On Top of the Game, runs from November 15 to December 6, 2015;, January 15 to March 13, 2016; and April 8 to June 12.

From the start, sports and recreation was an integral part of Bronco life. In the earliest days of Santa Clara College (now University) physical activity took the shape of bike rides, pick-up games, or a dip in the school's swimming pool (possibly the first in California).

But, by the 1870s a love of baseball took hold at the school, followed by the establishment of a football team in 1895. The introduction of rugby and basketball soon followed, with both teams popping up around 1905.

As the popularity of organized sports increased at Santa Clara, the nature of the campus began to shift. Once a closed campus where trips offsite were restricted, school administrators began allowing students to leave campus on Sundays to watch games in the late 1880s. By the 1890s athletics, and baseball in particular, had become so important to campus life that it justified overnight absences for players.

As the years progressed, the popularity of sports grew on campus and the teams improved. The rugby team sent some of its key players to the 1920 Olympics Games in Antwerp and the 1924 Olympics in Paris. Against odds, the football team took home three bowl wins between 1937 and 1950—two Sugar Bowl victories and an Orange Bowl win. The basketball team followed up with two consecutive turns in the NCAA playoffs and stint in the Final Four. The story goes on as Santa Clara University continues to send top athletes out into the world—Brandi Chastain, Brent Jones, and Steve Nash to name a few.

On Top of the Game is dedicated to the memory of Fr. Gerald McKevitt (1939–2015), who generously shared his knowledge of University and Mission history and served as an invaluable resource to the de Saisset Museum.

Support for this exhibition has been provided by The Inouye de Saisset Museum Fund.

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