Jump to content

Standardized NCAA D-1 Team Abbreviations - a different kind of "concept"


Recommended Posts

I've had this idea floating around in my head for a while. It stems from some research I did on ISO and IOC country codes, which are used by the International Organization for Standardization and the International Olympic Committee, to provide standardized abbreviations for countries.

The ISO has standardized 2-letter, 3-letter, and numeric country codes. You're probably more familiar with the ISO 2-letter codes, as they're often used as the corresponding country's top-level web domain addresses, such as .us, .uk, .ca, and so on. The IOC abbreviations are also probably familiar, such as USA, GBR, CAN, and RSA. (RSA = Russia, right? Nope! Russia is RUS, RSA stands for the Republic of South Africa. Interestingly enough, South Africa's 2-letter code isn't SA - that's Saudi Arabia. South Africa is ZA, from the Dutch name, Zuid-Afrika.)

Even more familiar to most are the US and Canada's 2-letter postal abbreviations. CA = California, OK = Oklahoma, ME = Maine, AB = Alberta, etc. Airport codes are another familiar use of this type of system, such as ATL (Atlanta), LGA (New York-LaGuardia), and ORD (O'Hare).

My "concept" here is a set of standardized 3-letter and 4-letter team abbreviations for NCAA Division 1 teams only. Certainly Division 2 (and 3, and probably NAIA as well) teams could be added, as there are 15,576 possible permutations of 3-letter abbreviations using the 26 letter English alphabet, and 456,976 possible 4-letter ones - but who would honestly recognize XQP or YKWX once the common abbrevations were taken?

Why do this? Well, how many different MSUs, OSUs, ISUs, etc. are there? How do you know which teams were playing when you see MSU vs. OSU on ESPN's score ticker? Is USC referring to South Carolina or Southern California? (There was a lawsuit filed over that...) This system would solve at least some of that (and likely cause some more problems in itself, but still - nothing is perfect). So... who gets to be THE MSU, OSU, ISU? Short answer - nobody. Long answer - these are the guidelines I created and used for these.

1. I've tried to leave out U in as many abbreviations as possible - with one exception. The most common university names in each state are University of (state) or (state) University. Every state has one. For the 3-letter abbreviations, it's simple. U, followed by the state's 2-letter postal abbreviation. For the 4-letter abbreviations, I've gone with the first 4 letters of the state's name. So, University of Texas-Austin becomes UTX and TEXA, University of Oregon becomes UOR and OREG, and University of Florida becomes UFL and FLOR. Some exceptions for states whose names are 2 words - West Virginia University becomes UWV and WVIR, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill becomes UNC and NCAR, University of New Hampshire becomes UNH and NHAM, etc.

2. The second most common university names are (state) State and (state) Tech. Similar to the above rule, for each university's 3-letter abbreviation, I've used each state's 2-letter postal abbreviation, along with "S" for State or "T" for Tech. For each 4-letter one, it's the 2-letter postal abbreviation along with "ST" for State or "TC" for Tech. This leads to Michigan State becoming MIS and MIST, Ohio State becoming OHS and OHST, Georgia Tech becoming GAT and GATC, Louisiana Tech becoming LAT and LATC... this starting to make sense yet?

3. Another common trend are "directional" names... Southern California, Western Kentucky, Eastern Illinois, Northern Arizona, Central Michigan, etc. For these, we go back again to the 2-letter postal abbreviation, with an added N, S, E, or W (for 3-letter abbreviations), and N/S/E/W with the first 3 letters of the state for 4-letter abbreviations. So, Southern California becomes SCA and SCAL, Western Kentucky WKY and WKEN, Eastern Illinois EIL and EILL, Northern Arizona NAZ and NARI, Central Michigan CMI and CMIC.

4. But, there's more... what about "hyphenated" city-specific schools, like Tennessee-Chattanooga, Nebraska-Omaha, North Carolina-Greensboro, etc? Well, here's where it gets a little hairy. I used the 2-letter postal abbreviation of the state with the first letter (or 2, for 4-letter abbreviations) of the city's name. Nebraska-Omaha becomes NEO and NEOM, North Carolina-Greensboro becomes NCG and NCGR, etc.

For some (Tennessee-Chattanooga, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, North Carolina-Charlotte come to mind), the athletics department has dropped the state-hyphen and just branded themselves as the city's name. For those, I changed the 4 letter abbreviations to the city's name. So, Tennessee-Chattanooga is TNC but CHAT, Wisconsin-Milwaukee is WIM but MILW, North Carolina-Charlotte is NCC but CHAR.

For "hyphenated" schools with 2 words in the city's name, like Arkansas-Pine Bluff (APB/ARPB), Texas-San Antonio (TSA/TXSA), Wisconsin-Green Bay (WGB/WIGB), I used only the initial letter of the state followed by the city's initials for 3-letter abbreviations, and the 2-letter postal code with the city's initials.

5. Obviously, there are some exceptions. The abbreviations of some universities (UCLA, UNLV, BYU, TCU, SMU, etc.) have seemingly transcended their full names. California-Los Angeles, Nevada-Las Vegas, Brigham Young, Texas Christian, and Southern Methodist all look odd spelled out. For those, as they're known nationally by their abbreviations, I've left them alone. CLA/UCLA, NLV/UNLV, BYU/BYNG, TCU/TXCH, SMU/SMET, and so on.

Without further rambling, here's the Google Doc containing the full list.

I'd love to hear feedback on this admittedly ridiculous and harebrained idea.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think you have to leave out "U" or "C" in many cases. Especially when you spell out the official names of the schools. That's how many Olympic designations are formed.

For example...

"AIR" and "AFRC" for Air Force. The official name of the school is the United States Air Force Academy. "USAFA" is the abbreviation I've seen, just like "USMA" for Army and "USNA" for Navy, although those can be spelled as they are for this project. I would use "AFA" for 3-letter, "AFAC" for 4.

Same thing for Bowling Green. Officially, it's Bowling Green State University.

You let Florida International go as FIU, but changed Florida State to FLS?

UMass-Lowell is UML. Hasn't been called anything else.

You should be able to keep some standard 3-letter designations when there's really no conflict.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd go with WIU for a 3 letter Western Illinois abbreviation, EIU for 3 letter Eastern Illinois, NIU for 3 letter Northern Illinois and SIU for 3 letter Southern Illinois (SIUC for 4). It's more commonly used and unique. UIC for Illinois-Chicago 3 letter as well and ILL and UIUC for Illinois

UNI for Northern Iowa as well.

For the Indiana schools, IUB and INDB for Indiana, IPI and IPUI for IUPUI, and IPF and IPFW for IPFW

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah... it's hard to determine when to make an exception to the rules/guidelines I was going by, or even if those rules/guidelines make any sense. AFA/AFAC makes sense. As does BGSU or really any other one that doesn't conflict with any other. However, FSU (despite being what probably 99% of the country would identify as Florida State) could also be Fresno State. And...well... that was kind of my whole idea. Being able to differentiate Florida State as FLS and Fresno State as FRS without confusion as to who FSU might be.

As for Florida International and Florida Atlantic, FLI/FLIN certainly works, but FLA would probably get confused with Florida.

Coming up with what are supposed to be non-confusing and non-ambiguous names is just as hard and confusing as deciphering the confusing, ambiguous ones.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Funny thing about Fresno State...though there used to be a Fresno State College, there isn't any institution named Fresno State University....there is, however, California State University, Fresno (hence, their usual abbreviation is simply FS). And I figure they been calling themselves Fresno State for so long any attempts at Cal State-Fresno were doomed from the start.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For two reasons, I think UMBC's 4-letter abbreviation should be . . . UMBC (instead of MDBC).

1. The school markets itself as UMBC. It is very rare to hear anyone call it Maryland-Baltimore County. I'm pretty sure UMBC doesn't equal UCLA or UNLV in national stature, but the letters have "transcended" the full name among people who have actually heard of the place.

2. I'm pretty sure there wouldn't be a conflict with another UMBC.

Come to think of it, I think the same thought applies to UMES (though it is more common to hear that school called University of Maryland - Eastern Shore).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's no reason to try and wedge the state's name into the abbreviation of hyphenated schools whose athletic program has decided to drop the state hyphen designation.

-Chattanooga's 3-letter abbreviation should be CHT

-Green Bay should be GRB and GBAY
-Milwaukee's 3-letter abbreviation should be MIL or MKE

I also think Southern California should get USC, since that's what they market themselves as nationally. Only locals refer to South Carolina as USC. SCR works just as well for the Gamecocks, here.

Also, I think you could get a little more creative with the 4-letter designations on some of these, like VOLS for Tennessee, HOGS for Arkansas, or ACES for Evansville.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Alright, changed things up a bit with some of your suggestions. I tried to go back and eliminate awkward abbreviations for schools that wouldn't be confused with another. Mostly with hyphenated state-city schools where UALR makes entirely more sense than ARLR, UNCG instead of NCGR, etc. Also, directional schools like Northern Iowa (UNI instead of NIA) and schools like Delaware State and Utah State where there's no other DSU or USU. I left instances like TXT for Texas Tech and TNT for Tennessee Tech (vs. the ambiguous TTU for either), the abundance of MSUs, etc.

Attempt #2

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmm first glance I have to say this is a pretty interesting idea. I'd say for Colgate for their four-letter abbreviation to make it "GATE," as their athletic department uses 'Gate a lot. Also St. John's should stick with STJ for their three-letter. That's all I can think of for now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.