Basketball Glory: The Legacy of Ohio Bobcats Basketball Teams


They may not be thought of as a traditional basketball powerhouse today, but the Ohio Bobcats are one of the oldest programs in the country, dating back to 1907… nearly two decades before the university known as Trinity College changed their name to Duke, the blue-blood program that everybody knows today.

During that 116 year history the Bobcats’ men’s basketball team has won 17 combined Mid-America Conference Championships, including both regular season finishes and tournament trophies, and they’ve made it to the NCAA Tournament 14 times. The Bobcats’ women’s team hasn’t had quite as much time to work with, given that they only came into existence following the Title IX victories of the 1970s, but they’ve still enjoyed quite a bit of success in recent years, winning consecutive regular season MAC championships in 2015 and 2016.

Here is your definitive guide to the history and legacy of Bobcats Basketball.


Early Men’s Success

The Bobcats were one of the most consistent winners during the early days of the Mid-America Conference, making the NCAA Tournament seven times between 1960 and 1974. It was a truly unprecedented run of dominance for a program in one of the less-heralded conferences, as the Bobcats missed the postseason just one year more than they made it: had Ohio Sports Betting Promos existed during that era, it isn’t a stretch to say that the Bobcats would’ve been a darling.

While 68 teams make the tournament today—and we’re hearing buzz that they could bump it up to as many as 96 teams in the coming years—March Madness was once a far more exclusive affair, meaning that the Bobcats were one of just 32 teams to make the postseason during that time.

Ohio enjoyed their success thanks to the efforts of Bobcats alum and head coach Jim Snyder, nicknamed “Gentleman Jim” thanks to his courteous and personable nature. Snyder coached the team for a quarter century and led them to their best season in program history, with the Bobcats making the Elite Eight in 1964.

Noteworthy players of the Snyder era include guard Jerry McKee, who ended up playing for the Indiana Pacers for a year following graduation, and Walter Luckett, who made the cover of Sports Illustrated as a freshman. Unfortunately, Luckett suffered a knee injury early in his pro career that tanked his once-bright career outlook.


The Modern Era

It’s been tougher going for the Bobcats since the beginning of the tournament as we know it today, as they have to win the MAC Tournament in order to secure an automatic bid, as opposed to just winning the regular season crown. The Bobcats missed the tournament in 2013 and 2014 despite winning 24 and 25 games, respectively, in those seasons, as they were repeatedly boxed out of March Madness after coming up short in the conference tournament.

They’ve still managed to pull off a MAC tournament championship seven times, though, and enjoyed a signature moment in 2010, when they upset No. 3 Georgetown in the first round of the tournament.

The Bobcats have gone through a coaching carousel in the past few decades, as many coaches look at jobs in the lesser conferences as a stepping stone rather than a place to stay long term, which has further hindered their ability to sustain success.

While they’re only the No. 3 seed in the MAC this year, the Bobcats could be an excellent bet for postseason success. They’re entering the conference tournament on a six game win streak and, as any seasoned basketball fan should know, it often isn’t the best team who makes a deep postseason run: it’s the one who gets hot at the perfect time.


Looking at the Women’s Game

The Bobcats’ women’s team, on the other hand, has two MAC championships and an at-large NCAA Tournament bid to their name since their start as a varsity sport in 1973. They have yet to win a game in the March Madness tournament, with their best opportunity coming in 1986 when they finished the regular season with a 24-2 record before flaming out against Illinois in a heartbreaking 69-68 decision.

Right now, the women’s team is coached by Bob Bolden, who took them to the tournament in 2015, just his second year in Athens. He hasn’t made it back since, though—despite leading them to 30 wins in 2019, a year in which they suffered an upset loss to Buffalo in the conference final—and after an embarrassing seventh place finish this season, there’s a good chance he could be looking for a new job now that the Bobcats’ year is done.