North Alabama Lions
|North Alabama Lions|
|University||University of North Alabama|
|Conference||Atlantic Sun Conference|
|NCAA||NCAA Division I|
|Athletic director||Mark Linder|
|Varsity teams||6 men's & 8 women's|
|Football stadium||Braly Municipal Stadium|
|Basketball arena||Flowers Hall|
|Baseball stadium||Mike D. Lane Field|
|Soccer stadium||UNA Soccer Field|
|Mascot||Leo III & Una|
|Colors||Purple and Gold|
The North Alabama Lions are the athletic teams of the University of North Alabama, located in Florence, Alabama. The Lions are a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I and compete within the Atlantic Sun Conference (ASUN). In the sport of football, the Lions will compete at the Division I FCS ranks in the Big South Conference. The University has a total of 14 varsity sports teams, six men's teams and eight women's teams. The fall of 2018 will mark the Lions first year of their transition into Division I. They have a storied tradition in Division II and have earned numerous national titles competing in NCAA Division II's Gulf South Conference.
For several years, UNA was exploring a move from Division II to Division I; On December 6, 2016, they were invited to join the Atlantic Sun Conference (ASUN) for most sports save football, which would join the FCS Big South Conference.
The UNA Athletic Department sponsors the following sports:
Men's athletic teams
Women's athletic teams
Based on a history compiled by the university's official athletic Web site, football had an especially inauspicious beginning at Florence Normal School. The institution's first football game in 1912 ended with Florence losing to Sewanee 101-0. The institution carried on with a football program for 16 years despite similar poor results, finally terminating the program in 1928 after losing to twice to Marion Institute, 86-0 and 85-0.
However, following the resumption of football in 1949 by then-President E.B. Norton, the situation has greatly improved.
The most successful era in UNA football history occurred during Bobby Wallace's tenure as head football coach. Following a four-year rebuilding period after Wallace's arrival, the Lions compiled a 7-4-1 record in 1992 and lost in the second round of the Division II playoffs to Jacksonville State University, the eventual Division II national champion.
Over the next three years from 1993–95, UNA amassed a 41-1 record, which also included three consecutive Gulf South Conference Championships and three consecutive NCAA Division II National Champions — the first so-called three-peat in NCAA history.
Mark Hudspeth amassed a 54-19 record since taking over the UNA head coaching job in 2002. Over 5 years from 2002 to 2007, the Lions had the winningest record out of any college football programs in the state, going 50-12. Hudspeth led the Lions to at least a top-six finish four times in five years. He was named the Gulf South Conference Coach of the Year twice.
On January 1, 2009, former Auburn football coach Terry Bowden was introduced as head coach. He replaced Mark Hudspeth, who left to join Mississippi State University as an assistant coach. Bowden brought a 111-53-2 record to the school in addition to a long list of accomplishments that included being named the 1993 National Coach of the Year, which stemmed from his first season as head coach in Division IA at Auburn University. He led his squad to an undefeated season in (1993). Janoris Jenkins is the key player for the team. Bowden led the Lions to 11-2, 9-4 and 9-3 records before leaving to become head coach at Akron after the 2011 season.
Bobby Wallace returned to North Alabama on January 2, 2012 after a year out of coaching.
The University of North Alabama's basketball program has earned two Division II national championships and has made five Division II Final Four appearances and has played in nine NCAA Division II championship tournaments. UNA was the first Alabama college or university to win a national championship title in basketball and is only one of four Division II programs to have won more than one Division II basketball national championships.
Under Coach Bill L. Jones’ leadership, the Lions won three Gulf South Conference championships in 1977, 1981, and 1984 and three GSC Tournament Titles in 1981, 1984 and 1988. Jones led UNA to NCAA Tournaments in 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1984 and 1988, with his teams winning regional crowns in 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1984.
Coach Gary Elliott led the Lions to their second national championship in 1991, as well as to four NCAA appearances in 1991, 1994, 1995, and 1996.
Bobby Champagne, UNA's sixth head basketball coach, has led the Lions to three straight Gulf South Conference tournament appearances and to the program's first NCAA Tournament since 1996.
For the Lion's volleyball team, 2003 was a year marked with irony. While the team failed to win a GSC title for the first time in eight years, it excelled in the NCAA South Central Regional, Elite Eight and Final Four to secure the first national championship ever claimed by a UNA women's athletic team.
The Lions won the 2016 NCAA Division II Softball National Championship Tournament and finished the season ranked #1 with a 60-7 record. The 2016 season was a historical one at UNA that saw many record-setting performances for the program. Aside from winning the school's first-ever national title in softball, the Lions also broke or tied 30 team and individual records at the single-season and career levels. UNA also broke or tied four Gulf South Conference records and also set a new attendance mark for the year. Among the records set during the 2016 season were most wins (60), most games played (67), highest batting average (.353), most at bats (1,825), most runs (488), most hits (645), most RBI (445), most doubles (122), most home runs (90), most walks (183), most stolen bases (93), most complete games by a pitching staff (48), most walks allowed (179) and most innings pitched (426.2). During the regular season, the Lions also won 18 consecutive games to break the previous mark of 13 straight set during the 2005 season. The team's head coach in 2016 was Ashley Cozart who is the sixth coach in the school's history after taking over the helm of the program in July 2013.
- University of North Alabama Graphic Standards (PDF). Retrieved October 8, 2018.
- "Championships/Post-Season," RoarLions.com, Official Site of University of North Alabama Athletics
- Edwards, Jennifer; Dewalt, Gregg (November 27, 2016). "A-Sun on the horizon for UNA?". TimesDaily. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
- "UNA Accepts ASUN Division I Invitation" (Press release). North Alabama Lions. December 6, 2016. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
- "North Alabama To Join Big South Football in 2019" (Press release). Big South Conference. December 6, 2016. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
- "Sewanee, The University of the South - 1912". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
- "The History of UNA Football, RoarLions.com, Official Site of University of North Alabama Athletics". Retrieved October 8, 2018.
- ""UNA Men's Basketball History," RoarLions.com, Official Site of University of North Alabama Athletics". Retrieved October 8, 2018.
- ""Lion Volleyball History," RoarLions.com, Official Site of University of North Alabama Athletics". Retrieved October 8, 2018.