If a great sports team is only as strong as the sum of its parts, then a huge component to the University of Richmond's culture of success is it's devoted fan base, which has fueled the men's basketball team's peak performances for more than 100 years.
Whether on the field or on the court, make no mistake about it, the Richmond Spiders' fan base is a loyal lot, and their devotedness has fueled the institution's athletic prowess season after season, moment after awe-inspiring moment.
Spiders have reached NCAA Tournament nine times
Fans got a taste of just what the men's basketball team was capable of in the early 20th century, led by the late great Frank Dobson, who served as head coach in two separate stints, racking up an impressive 168 wins over his lengthy career that concluded in 1933. However, it wasn't until Dick Tarrant came to town in 1983 that the Spiders started making a name for itself in the annals of college basketball superiority, as Tarrant led the Spiders to four conference titles and five NCAA Tournament appearances – more than any other coach in Richmond's history.
Current head coach Chris Mooney and the Robins Center slew of supporters may have home something to say about that before long, though. The former Air Force head coach has surpassed Dobson in win totals and taken the Spiders further in the tournament that is March Madness than most of his predecessors, making the Sweet 16 in 2011. Altogether, the Spiders have quietly amassed six conference titles and nine appearances since 1981.
Perhaps tied for first in the sport where the Spiders – the only school in the country with an arachnid for a nickname – thrive is on the gridiron. The football program has earned 11 conference championships since its inception in 1881, including four under the Southern Conference banner in the 1960s and 1970s, three in the Yankee Conference, three more in the Atlantic 10, and a trifecta of titles since joining the Colonial Athletic Association.
Richmond won FCS Championship in 2008
And that's not including the Spiders' playoff appearances. In the Football Championship Subdivision – not to be confused with the Football Bowl Subdivision – the Spiders have appeared in the postseason nine times, sporting an all-time playoff record of 11-8. In 2008, the Spiders brought home the FCS National Championship title.
With success like this, you can understand why E. Clairborne Robins Stadium, the Spiders' home turf – seats more than 8,700 people – three times the number of people enrolled at the University of Richmond.
Members of the University of Richmond's student body may go on to other things once their academic careers are over and the final whistle has sounded. But you'll never take the fighting Spider Spirit that each graduate is "webbed" with out of them. Here's to another year of Spider success!