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Nevada Wolf Pack
The Nevada Wolf Pack are the collegiate athletic teams that represent the University of Nevada, Reno, consisting of 16 varsity teams. Though often known as UNR within the state, the university is simply called Nevada for athletics purposes; its sports teams are nicknamed the Wolf Pack (always two words). They participate in the NCAA's Division I (FBS for football) and in the Mountain West Conference. Nevada's athletic teams were originally known as the Sagebrushers, named after Nevada's state flower. In the 1921-1922 school year, a local writer described the school's athletic teams as a "pack of wolves." That name stuck and by 1923, the student body designated "Wolves" as the school's mascot.
Eventually, this arrangement proved unsatisfactory for Nevada, who by 1975 was the only public school left in the WCC. At the same time, Gonzaga, a charter but non-football member of the Big Sky Conference, was facing pressure from the conference to either leave or add football (which they had dropped in 1941), as they were the only non-football member of the conference (and only private school as well).
A deal was then worked out in which Gonzaga and Nevada would swap conference affiliations in 1979. Gonzaga joined the WCC where it remains to this day, while Nevada moved to the Big Sky. Both new affiliations were the best institutional fits at the time. By the early 1990s, Nevada had become one of the better football teams in what is now the Football Championship Subdivision of NCAA Division I, advancing to the title game in 1990. Nevada decided to upgrade to FBS in 1992, which required them to leave the Big Sky, which did not accept non-football members at the time (this will change in 2014). Nevada found a home in the Big West Conference, where in-state rival UNLV had been playing since 1982 (they would leave in 1996).