On July 1 2016, the merger of two universities -- Purdue University Calumet and Purdue University North Central -- became official.
After the Higher Learning Commission approved the merger in March 2016, the process of combining administration, academic programs, and athletic programs reached full force.
The merger has resulted in an institution of some 15,000 students, fifth largest in Indiana. Purdue Northwest will feature two campuses: the Calumet campus in Hammond and the North Central campus in Westville. The Purdue Northwest Pride athletic teams – 13 varsity sports -- are set to debut in the NAIA’s Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference in the 2016-17 academic year.
Through an extensive process that began in February 2015, thousands of students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members from the Calumet and North Central campuses participated in the nickname selection of the “Pride”. A task force comprised largely of students guided the process, which included a widely distributed survey to which nearly 3,000 people responded. The lion mascot emerged through extensive brand research that included discussions and focus groups with hundreds of students, faculty, staff and alumni.
Purdue University Calumet athletics was founded in 1953, when Bob Hayes’ bulletin board “call out” attracted the first Purdue Extension men’s basketball squad. The team would go on to compile a 13-7 record and jumpstart an interesting, if not eventful, athletic presence at Purdue Calumet.
Since the 1950s, Purdue Calumet has fielded intercollegiate varsity teams at various times in men’s basketball, soccer, baseball and golf. Debuting in the mid-70s, the women’s program has included teams in volleyball, softball, tennis and basketball.
Purdue Calumet athletics started playing intercollegiate varsity basketball games in a Hammond junior high school and went on to identify “home court” at various local high schools, the Hammond Civic Center, National Guard Armory before moving to the Fitness and Recreation Center on campus in 1981.
Over the years, Purdue Calumet athletics has transitioned up and down various paths. As a two-year campus until the mid-1960s, Purdue Calumet competed primarily against junior colleges and industrial teams. After gaining status as a four-year, baccalaureate degree-granting university in 1965, Purdue Calumet joined the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
In 2008, former Purdue Calumet Athletic Director Bob Bunnell introduced the university’s athletic expansion plan, which called for the PUC athletic program to grow from two intercollegiate sports (men’s and women’s basketball) to 12 by the 2013-14 academic year. The growth plan was based on the university’s planned application for induction into the NCAA.
A ground-breaking agreement with the City of Hammond was announced in March 2011 to develop Dowling Park (located just north of I80-94 on Kennedy Avenue) into a comprehensive outdoor sports complex for both Peregrine Athletics and the City of Hammond’s Parks and Recreation Department. The new athletic facility, completed in Fall 2015, houses the playing fields for the Black and Gold’s baseball, men’s and women’s soccer, softball and men’s and women’s tennis teams.
Bob Hayes: The Father of Purdue Calumet Athletics
Considered affectionately as the father of Purdue Calumet athletics, Bob Hayes enjoyed a 37-year career on the Hammond campus as a coach, athletic director, intramural program coordinator, physical education instructor, statistician and all-around good guy until his retirement in 1990. The long-time administrator also served as a member of the NAIA District 21 Executive committee.
He organized, coached and directed men’s basketball and baseball teams during the 1950s and ‘60s, frequently dipping into his own wallet to stretch a modest budget. When the baseball team of Purdue’s Big Ten campus at West Lafayette exhausted its supply of wooden bats before season’s end, Hayes was affectionately known to have come to the rescue by dipping into Purdue Calumet’s stock.
Boilermakers, Pipers, Lakers and Peregrines
The athletic program was introduced as the Boilermakers in the 1950’s, before changing to the designation of Pipers in 1966. The name Pipers is symbolic of a ceremonial pipe, also called a Calumet, smoked as a peace token by native North Americans.
The 1981 return of men’s basketball to a new, campus-based playing venue at a university near the banks of Lake Michigan triggered the nickname change to Lakers. In 2004, Lakers gave way to Peregrines, as Purdue Calumet is believed to be the only university nationally to have adopted the swift flying Peregrine falcon as its athletic mascot.
Purdue North Central: Athletic History
In 1967, the same year PNC moved to its new home in Westville, the athletic mascot was named the “Centaurs.” In 1998, the mascot changed to “Panthers,” and in the spring of 2003, the Panther mascot was officially given the name “Pounce.”
Hall of Famer Ed Bednar started the intramural program in basketball, softball, and tag football in 1968 at PNC, which ultimatley led to the first intercollegiate team, men's basketball, in the same year. The squad won the Indiana campus championship in 1971-72 to highlight Bednar's eight-year head coaching career.
In the 1998-1999 season, PNC made the transition from club sports to the National Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (NAIA) with the sports of men's basketball and baseball under the direction of former Athletic Director and Head Baseball Coach Paul Gillikin.
Purdue North Central baseball, which started in 1977 under the direction of Hall of Famer Jerry Lewis, has enjoyed plenty of success over the years, highlighted by the program's five NAIA All-Americans -- Ched Gaskin (2012), First-Teamer Chris Schultz (2009), Tom Albano (2007), Chris Stocker (2006) and Gary Ray (2004). Larry Blake Sr., part of PNC's inaugural Hall of Fame class, helped lead the team's transition into the NAIA in 1998-99 and served as head coach from 1990-1999. After the program made the jump to NAIA play, Jordan Dehaven became the first all-conference selection in program history in 2000, which also marked the first year competing in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference.
In 2014-15, the squad made a run all the way to the CCAC Tournament title game before finishing the year with a 17-13 mark in CCAC play under head coach and former Panther standout Shane Prance, now Assistant Athletic Director for Facilities and Assistant Coach for PNW Baseball.
The Panther men's basketball team began NAIA play in 1998-99 and joined the CCAC as an official member in 1999-2000. The program saw its first NAIA All-American in 2005 with the honorable mention selection of Adam Dobrzeniecki, who was also named the CCAC Player of the Year after averaging 18.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game after a stellar career at Lake Central High School.
Matt Bush took over the program during the 2012-13 season and turned the Panthers around, becoming the team's wins leader (39) in just three full seasons before being named the inaugural coach of Purdue Northwest men's hoops.
PNC Men's Golf was introduced in 2011-12 under the direction of Jay Williams.
The Panther softball team started NAIA play in 2003-04 and later became a full-fledged CCAC member the following season in 2004-05.
WOMEN'S CROSS COUNTRY
The Panthers introduced its newest sport, women's cross country, prior to the start of the 2014-15 campaign, pushing the Panthers' sponsored sports to six. PNC snagged a Top-10 finish that year at the CCAC Championships (eighth) before 2015-16's record-breaking season, when freshman Kyleigh Werner became the program's first-ever NAIA National qualifier and was named the CCAC Freshman of the Year.
Women's volleyball was introduced in 2007-08 under the leadership of longtime athletic director and head baseball coach John Weber.
Purdue Calumet baseball, whose teams once played on a campus field along 173rd Street near Woodmar Avenue and the current setting of Lawshe Hall under the direction of Bob Hayes, competed during the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. The program was reintroduced in 2013-14 with former professional player and IHSAA state championship-winning coach Dave Griffin at the helm.
Hayes led a strong basketball program until stepping down following the 1966-67 season. John Shields took over the reins from Hayes the following season and continued Purdue Calumet’s up-tempo attack. The Pipers’ high-scoring offense was ahead of its time, ranking among the NAIA leaders with over 90 points per contest.
Lonnie Chase, a Vietnam War veteran, was the star of those high-scoring teams, pouring in over 2,000 career points and earning NAIA First Team All-District honors in 1969-70. He teamed with fellow Purdue Calumet standouts Dennis Musgrave and David Witherspoon on the the 1968-69 team that averaged 98.5 points per game.
Due to funding issues, the men’s basketball program was limited to a club team in 1975. However, the program was reintroduced in 1981, following the construction of the Fitness and Recreation Center on campus and the hiring of Larry Liddle, a legendary Indiana high school coach.
Liddle, with the help of NAIA Honorable Mention All-America selection Ed Blackmon, guided the 1981-82 team to an 18-8 overall record in its return to varsity competition. Under Liddle, Purdue Calumet went on to earn an NAIA district playoff berth in six of his first seven seasons, including a trip to the district title game in 1985-86.
Purdue Calumet also claimed at least a share of Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference championships in 1986-87, 1994-95 and 1997-98. Prior to his retirement in 2000, Liddle won 281 games and coached five NAIA All-America honorees; Blackmon, Matt Blower, Tony Garvey, Dan Penn and Tony Vermejan.
Former Purdue Calumet women’s basketball coach Gary Hayes took over the men’s program during the 2000-01. Hayes went on to win 73 games in just over four seasons in Hammond, coaching seven All-CCAC performers and two All-Americans.
Purdue Calumet’s women’s basketball program has been a mainstay since beginning play in the 1970’s under head coach Letty Foutch. However, the program took flight in the early 1980’s under head coach Bill Platt.
The 1981-82 squad claimed the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) Division III state basketball title with a 19-5 overall record, while garnering a runner-up finish in 1982-83. Platt would wrap up his career with a 74-45 mark during his five-year tenure at Purdue Calumet. Stacey Karpenic (Zurek) took over the reins of the program in 1985-86, winning 66 games in her first four seasons at the school.
That era saw also the emergence of arguably the top athlete in school history, Lee Ann DeYoung. The Hammond native compiled over 2,500 career points, earning three NAIA All-America honors and becoming the first Purdue Calumet student-athlete to have their jersey retired. DeYoung was not the only star in the 1980’s though, as All-Americans Lynn Hevezi and Vernell Jackson also starred on the hardwood.
Hayes returned the program to prominence in the 1990’s after becoming head coach during the 1993-94 season. The defensive savvy coach led the Lakers to a school-record 27 wins and the school’s first NAIA National Tournament appearance in 1995-96. He accrued a whopping 92 wins over a four-year period behind the play of NAIA All-America selection Rita Harper and CCAC Player of the Year Michelle Russell.
Former Purdue Calumet assistant Dennis Smith took over the program after Hayes became the men’s coach in 2000-01, winning 79 games including a share of the CCAC crown in 2003-04 in his seven seasons at the helm.
Tom Megyesi, a legendary coach at Lake Central, was hired in 2007-08 to lead the program and immediately implanted a high-scoring offense. Megyesi’s teams improved in each of his first five seasons, while ranking among the NAIA leaders in scoring offense in each season. The Peregrines have won 20 games in five straight seasons and earned the program’s first national tournament berth in nearly two decades during the 2012-13 season, followed by NAIA National Tournament appearances in 2013-14 (after a CCAC regular-season and tournament championship), and 2015-16. During the 2013-14 campaign, the Peregrines captured their first-ever NAIA Tournament victory with a win over Oregon Tech in the first round to qualify for the Sweet 16.
MEN’S & WOMEN’S CROSS COUNTRY
The Purdue Calumet men’s and women’s cross country teams began competition in 2011. Stephanie Beck became the second head coach in program history prior to the 2014-15 season, and in 2015-16, Alex Cordova became the first NAIA National Championships qualifer in program history.
Men’s golf, coached by former athletic director Gordon Rosenau, was also a successful program during the 1970’s. The program was cut due to budget reasons several years later, but was brought back in the first year of the expansion plan in 2010-11 under the tutelage of head coach Matt Meneghetti. Randy Wexter took over the helm midway through the 2014-15 season and the Peregrines captured their first-ever team tournament title at the IU East Spring Invite in 2016.
The men’s soccer program grew from an after-class activity to a varsity team in the late 1960’s under the direction of Purdue Calumet’s first soccer coach, John Shields. The inaugural team enjoyed a winning season, setting the stage for a strong history of soccer at Purdue Calumet.
Goalkeepers Danny Dragic and Rod Weingart headlined Purdue Calumet’s teams in the early years, as Dragic earned an invitation to try out for the U.S. Olympic team and Weingart was drafted by the Indiana Tigers of the American Soccer Association.
Men’s soccer took off during the 14-year career of head coach Frank Carroll. Before retiring in 1983, Carroll had led several teams to NAIA District 21 playoff berths, including the 1982 squad that compiled a 15-2 record and advanced to the NAIA District 21 title match. Jim Green, Oscar Gomez and Don Steriovsky each spent stints as head coaches for the program, before it was cut due to budget concerns in the late 1990’s.
James Drzewiecki, a Purdue Calumet alum and former MCCAA Coach of the Year, was hired to lead the program in 2012, after it was reintroduced as part of the athletic expansion plan’s third installment. Ryan Hayes has continued the program's success, as the Peregrines qualified for the NAIA National Tournament for the first time ever in 2015.
Purdue Calumet introduced women’s soccer as a varsity sport for the first time in school history in 2012-13, as the third installment of the latest athletic expansion. Head Coach Leslie Ferguson guided the team to a 7-11 mark in their inaugural season. Former Auburn University star Kellie Evans became the second head coach in program history prior to the 2015 campaign.
Softball enjoyed a short and successful stint in the late 1970's at Purdue Calumet, highlighted by the team's AIAW state title in 1978. The program was brought back for the 2013-14 academic year with new coach Heather Tarter guiding the program in its first season in over three decades. In its first year, the program shocked NCAA Division I Purdue in a fall contest before capturing 28 wins in its first campaign.
Men’s Tennis began play in 2010 with head coach Donn Gobbie guiding the Peregrines in their inaugural season. Purdue Calumet advanced to the CCAC semifinals in just the program’s second season, 2011-12.
The women’s tennis team emerged briefly in the 1970’s at Purdue Calumet, before being reintroduced in 2010-11 with three-time Mid-Continent Conference Coach of the Year honoree Tim Maluga at the helm. The Peregrines won back-to-back CCAC Tournament matches in 2015 and 2016 behind the play of CCAC First Team selection and the school's first-ever CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year, Lori Haas.
Women’s Volleyball began in the mid 1970’s. Head coach Judy Olsen guided the team to an AIAW State title game in 1981, before Stacey Karpenic (Zurek) took over the reins in 1985.
Karpenic won a school-record 36 matches in her first season, guiding the team to NAIA District 21 playoffs. She tallied 200 wins in her 10 seasons at the helm, while coaching Purdue Calumet’s only NAIA All-America selection in volleyball, Jaime Muskin. Karen Arehart and Sallee Malinich also served as head coaches of Purdue Calumet volleyball during the 1990’s.
The program was discontinued for financial reasons in the late 1990s, but was brought back in 2010 with former Purdue Calumet star Natalie Shadowen as head coach. Former Loyola University standout Julie Wiejak took over the program prior to the 2014 season, leading the Peregrines to team records in 16 categories in her first campaign.
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