The University of Georgia's sports teams are called the Bulldogs, and they participate in NCAA Division I as a member of the Southeastern Conference. Coach Dennis Felton engineered the Bulldogs to the 2007 NIT, completing a comeback to the top tier of programs.
The Bulldogs' most historic rivalry is with Auburn. For the vast majority of the 20th Century, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets were unquestionably UGA's biggest rival (the two schools are a mere 70 miles apart). However, the 1970s, '80s and '90s witnessed a growing rivalry with the Florida Gators that many would say is currently UGA's fiercest.
The first mention of "Bulldogs" in association with Georgia athletics occurred on November 28, 1901, at the Georgia-Auburn football game played in Atlanta. The Georgia fans "had a badge saying 'Eat `em Georgia' and a picture of a bulldog tearing a piece of cloth"; however, it was not until 1920 that the nickname "Bulldog" was used to describe the athletic teams at the University of Georgia. On November 3, 1920, Morgan Blake, a sportswriter for the Atlanta Journal wrote a story about school nicknames for football teams and proposed: "The Georgia Bulldogs would sound good because there is a certain dignity about a bulldog, as well as ferocity."
Shortly thereafter, another news story appeared in the Atlanta Constitution in which the name "Bulldogs" was used several times to describe the Georgia football team and the nickname has been used ever since then.
The athletic department suffered through several controversies in the early 2000s, including a major scandal within the men's basketball program. In 2003, a power struggle between University President Michael Adams and athletic director and beloved Bulldog legend Vince Dooley stole headlines across the country when Adams refused to renew Dooley's contract, effectively firing him. The battle became one painted as academics versus athletics, though this idea was rejected when the University's Franklin College of Arts and Sciences faculty issued a vote of "no confidence" on Adams' leadership in 2004.
The firestorm has calmed slightly since then, however, largely due to the success of Dooley's successor, Damon Evans and his successful luring of Felton from Western Kentucky. In 2006, the Bulldogs recorded the highest profit margin of any athletic program in the country (according to the EADA report), pulling in $23.9 million, and also recorded another highly-successful year on the field.
Coach Dennis Felton, although let go in mid-season during a losing streak in 2008-09, has resurrected the Bulldogs to national prominence after scandal filled seasons under Jim Harrick. Associate Head Coach Pete Herrmann, who coached David Robinson at the U.S. Naval Academy, took over the duties from Felton. Minnesota's Tubby Smith coached the Dawgs before bolting for Kentucky. Assistant Ron Jirsa took over for two seasons before the Harrick Era showed the first signs of the Dooley-Adams rivalry. Hugh Durham was the coach that took the Bulldogs to their only Final Four season 1983, a year after Hall of Famer Dominque Wilkins left for the NBA. Athens Academy coach James Banks was on the Final Four team. Other NBA players from Georgia include Vern Fleming, Alec Kessler, Jarvis Hayes, Willie Anderson, Shandon Anderson, and Damien Wilkins.
Coach Andy Landers, a pioneer in the sport, has coached the Lady Bulldogs since 1979, leading them to seven regular-season SEC titles, four SEC tournament championships, twenty 21-win seasons (an average of 24.4 wins per season), 23 NCAA tournaments, and five Final Fours. The Lady Dogs' all-time AP ranking stands at 4th as of 2005.
The Lady Dogs have also produced two U.S. Olympians who have combined to earn six Gold Medals (Teresa Edwards and Katrina McClain Johnson), 16 former players who have continued to the WNBA (second-most nationally), and six WNBA first-round draft picks in the past five years (second-most nationally). There were eight Lady Bulldogs on WNBA rosters in 2006: Kara Braxton, Detroit Shock; Kedra Holland-Corn, Detroit Shock; Deanna Nolan, Detroit Shock; Kelly Miller, Phoenix Mercury; Coco Miller, Washington Mystics; Christi Thomas, Los Angeles Sparks; Sherill Baker, New York Liberty; and Keisha Brown, New York Liberty.