The Wright State University Athletic Department can be seen through two distinct phases of growth over the past 40 years. The first phase includes the birth and blossoming into the NCAA Division II elite while the second, and current, could be characterized by the move and quick success in NCAA Division I.
Since its first intercollegiate event when the men's soccer team defeated Wilberforce 4-2 in the fall of 1968, the Raiders have grown to the extent that the men's basketball team played the University of Indiana before 35,000 fans on national television in 1993 and saw the Raiders beat eventual national-champion Michigan State for the "Upset of the Millennium" on December 30, 1999 at the Ervin J. Nutter Center.
The first 20 years in Division II saw numerous national post-season tournament berths, over 200 All-Americans and a men's basketball National Championship in 1983. Great success became the norm instead of an exception for the Raiders as a high majority of the programs posted a better than .600 record.
Since becoming an NCAA Division I member in 1987, the Raiders success has continued as the squads climb and improve. The first to qualify for a Division I bid came in 1988 when a golfer participated in the NCAA national tournament.
The move to Division I also saw a move in 1990 to the Mid-Continent Conference and then the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now the Horizon League) starting with the 1994-95 campaign. Since beginning league play, WSU athletes have earned hundreds of all-league honors while numerous teams have won conference championships and received NCAA Tournament bids. The coaching staffs has also received its share of recognition as well with Coach of the Year honors. Wright State has captured 50 conference titles among those 16 sports since first joining a league in 1990.
The Raiders can boast successful professionals as its alumni in Brian Anderson and Joe Smith, each a Major League Baseball pitcher, Vitaly Potapenko, a center in the NBA, and Frank Lickliter, a member of the PGA Tour, to name just a few. Also, WSU has produced many professionals in men’s and women’s basketball as well as men’s and women’s soccer and baseball through the years.
The student-athletes post outstanding successes in the classroom as well as they regularly earn a grade point average over 3.0. Almost half of the student-athletes are honored each year at Academic Recognition Night.
WSU sponsors 16 intercollegiate sports, including seven for men and nine for women: Both--basketball, cross country, soccer, swimming & diving and tennis; Women--softball, indoor track, outdoor track and volleyball; Men--baseball and golf. The latest sport additions to the department has been a women's indoor and outdoor track & field squad.
New facilities over the last 15 years include the Setzer Pavilion/Mills Morgan Center, a state of the art facility that is used by all 16 teams, particularly men's and women's basketball. Also new are the Rinzler Sports Complex, home of soccer’s Alumni Field and Nischwitz Stadium, home of the WSU baseball squad. Along with the new facilities, major improvements have been initiated at the softball field and tennis courts along with the Wright State Nutter Center, a 11,000-seat arena that is home to the volleyball and men's and women's basketball teams.
Things are moving in the right direction for the Raiders as they prepare for more impressive leaps on and off the playing field.
Wright State Athletics Timeline
1968 First Intercollegiate Event is men’s soccer
1983 Men’s Basketball wins NCAA Division II National Title
1987 Baseball Takes Second Place in NCAA Division II Tournament
1987 WSU Plays First NCAA Division I Seasons
1990 WSU Joins a League for the first time as women’s sports joins North Star Conference
1991 WSU Joins Mid-Continent Conference for all sports
1988 First NCAA Division I Tournament as a golfer qualifies--the team will advance in 1990, 2000, 2003 and 2004
1993 First NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament Appearance
1994 Baseball Qualifies for its first NCAA Division I Tournament and will advance to the tournament in 2006, 2009 and 2011
1994 WSU Joins the Midwestern Collegiate Conference which becomes the Horizon League
1998 Women’s soccer becomes first women’s sport to qualify for NCAA Division I Tournament as the team repeats in 1999 and 2000
1999 Men’s Basketball defeats eventually National Champion Michigan State
2003 Softball advances to the NCAA Division I Tournament for the first time and qualifies again 2007, 2008 and 2010
2007 Men’s basketball hosts and wins the Horizon League Tournament and advanced to its second NCAA Division I Tournament
2011 Women’s basketball hosts first-ever post-season game and the first-ever post-season game at the WSU Nutter Center, playing in the Women’s Basketball Invitational
2014 Women’s basketball qualifies for its first-ever NCAA Division I Tournament