College Hoops’ Top 20 Ugliest Uniforms Ever
20. Notre Dame’s Black Uniforms
[EDITOR’S NOTE: AdBlock must be disabled in order for the slideshow to function properly.]
While college basketball uniforms have really jumped the shark recently, the sport’s history includes some of the most unsightly athletic uniforms you will ever see. Want proof? Feast your eyes on our rankings of College Basketball’s Top 20 Ugliest Uniforms Ever.
Even a school bound by heritage as much as Notre Dame can succumb to the “Black Out” fever that has swept across the college sports landscape.
We’re usually big proponents of this look, but the Irish’s attempt - unveiled for a 64-50 over eighth-ranked Kentucky in November of 2012 - left us shrugging our shoulders unimpressed. It doesn’t help that the fluorescent blue and green numbers and letters are almost impossible to see.
Perhaps if there was an actual blackout, they might glow in the dark?
19. Central Florida’s Pinstripe Uniforms
Perhaps as a nod to the uniforms from the late 1980s and early 1990s of the just-down-the-road Orlando Magic, UCF unveiled pinstripe home threads prior to the 2013-2014 season.
The effort was there, but the execution was not. Something just seemed very off about the UCF uniforms between the pinstripes, the V-neck collar and the logo in the middle instead of “UCF” horizontally across the front of the jersey.
18. Syracuse’s Two-Toned Throwbacks
Entering their home game with Boston College in February of 2014, Syracuse was 25-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country. The Orange took the floor against the Eagles in orange jerseys with “Syracuse” spelled out in old-school script across the chest.
That was completed ruined by pairing it with dark blue shorts. Perhaps as karmic payback from the fashion gods, ‘Cuse fell to unranked BC that night, kicking off a 3-6 swoon that doomed a once-promising season.
17. Notre Dame’s Neon Green Alternates
When the Commander in Chief pans your new uniforms, you know you’ve done something wrong.
In March of 2013, President Barack Obama had Notre Dame losing to Ohio State in the second round of his bracket due in large part to the Fighting Irish’s threads. “That’s one reason why they shouldn’t go any further,” POTUS explained to ESPN’s Andy Katz. “That neon glow thing wasn’t working for me.”
It wasn’t working for us either, Barry.
16. Florida A&M’s ‘Shoulder Pad’ Uniforms
FAMU boasts both a unique nickname (“Rattlers”) and an eye-pleasing color scheme (green and orange). It shouldn’t be that hard to come up with cool uniforms, should it?
Yet there was no snake imagery to be seen on Florida A&M’s 2012-2013 uniforms. In addition to unnecessary white piping on the shorts, the shoulder of the jerseys featured a white shoulder pad-like design that was both ugly and didn’t make sense.
15. Albany’s Two-Sided Shorts
The Great Danes made college hoops fans sit up and take notice not just because they reached the 2014 Big Dance and won a play-in game against Mount St. Mary’s, but because they did so in some truly hideous threads.
Splashing “UAlbany” across the front as opposed to just “Albany” seems strange. Yet even that pales in comparison to the style travesty on the rest of the uniform, which includes a yellow stripe across the jersey’s upper back and shorts that are entirely purple on the front and entirely yellow on the back.
14. Cincinnati’s ‘Zubaz’ Uniforms
Among all the critically panned new uniforms that Adidas released for six of its clients prior to the 2013 NCAA Tournament, Cincy’s - which also included a cat scratch-like design on the jersey’s shoulders - had the dubious honor of being the second most unsightly (more on the first later).
“Cincinnati’s uniforms would make them difficult to see among the patrons of Studio 54 in the ’80’s,” ESPN’s Jay Bilas tweeted upon their unveiling. “Tragically, they are easy to see now.”
13. Texas Tech’s Postseason Uniforms
Rather appropriately, the Red Raiders capped off an ugly 2012-2013 season by sporting some similarly unsightly uniforms for the Big 12 tournament.
The red and black shoulders set against black and white torso portion of the jersey made the threads resemble a WNBA uniform - or a baby bib. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Under Armour took a page out of Nike’s book and went with a logo uniform look, only the logo was about three sizes too small.
12. Northwestern’s ‘By The Players’ Uniforms
If what Northwestern wore in January of 2014 against Illinois was just a predominantly gray uniform with purple trim, it’d be a decent look. Alas, it’s so much more than that - in a bad way.
The left shoulder of the jersey and the entirety of the front of the shorts are covered with random symbols and team mantras. Per the Big Ten Network, “Pound the Rock” is the team’s battle cry, the Chicago skyline reiterates the school is “Chicago’s Big Ten Team,” and the heart-shaped basketball with the phrase “Love the Game” next to it represents Chris Collins’ mantra.
It’s as if Under Armour saw a Kay Jewelers commercial for those awful Charmed Memories Bracelets and thought, “That’d make a good uniform.”
11. Kentucky's Platinum Uniform
Surely Kentucky, one of the proudest college basketball programs in the country, could have found a better way to celebrate its centennial in 2002-03 than with this.
Nike designed platinum Wildcat uniforms as a sort of “back to the future” look. Alas, Kentucky played as ugly as they looked the first time they wore these, shooting just 38% from the field in a 71–67 home loss to Michigan State.
Between the blinding color that has nothing to do with UK and the ridiculous belt players donned, this look was a total dud. Thankfully for both us and Big Blue Nation, we haven’t seen them since.
10. Villanova's Graffiti Uniform
Like other schools on this list, Villanova tried “bold” new ways to modernize their uniforms in the 1990s, only to fall flat on their faces. (Hey, it was the ’90s, right?)
It’s a shame that Kerry Kittles had to wear this abomination during the 1994–1995 season en route to setting the Wildcats’ all-time scoring record (2,243 points) one year later. It’s not just the Pokemon-like spelling of “Villanova” (H/T The Recliner GM) that’s hard to look at. There’s also the without-rhyme-or-reason diagonal patterning on the shorts as well as the color scheme, which looks like it was inspired by the flavors from a Slurpee machine.
Fashion karma is a b*tch. Villanova’s lone season wearing these atrocities concluded with a triple-OT loss to No. 14 seed Old Dominion in the NCAA tournament — still considered one of the most painful losses in school history.
9. Kentucky's Denim Uniform
Making basketball uniforms out of denim feels like an idea from a “Seinfeld” episode.
Providing Kentucky with uniforms made with denim was one of several fashion faux pas that Converse committed in its tenure as the Wildcats’ provider of athletic apparel. From far away, they didn’t look too awful. But up close, it was all too apparent the Wildcats were playing in uniforms made of jeans.
Of course, that “Untouchables” team was so talented — Tony Delk’s (left) teammates included Derek Anderson, Walter McCarty, Ron Mercer, Nazr Mohammed and Antoine Walker — that they could have won a national title wearing burlap sacks. Still, Converse should have learned its lesson from Andre Agassi roughly five years before: Denim in sports (except rodeo) just doesn’t work.
8. Marquette's Bumblebee Uniform
Then nicknamed the Warriors, Marquette might as well have switched their moniker to Bumblebees prior to the 1969–1970 season.
The team’s decision to adopt uniforms that resembled old-fashioned men’s swimsuits was completely intentional. It was the brainchild of Milwaukee-based Medalist Industries and coach Al McGuire; the former sought name recognition, the latter sought something that would get potential recruits buzzing (pun intended).
Not only did Marquette win the 1970 NIT title in these uniforms, they also created a high demand for them in the process. Had the NCAA not banned them following the 1971–1972 season for their “psychedelic effect” on opponents, who knows how long McGuire’s teams would have worn these?
We’re just thankful we didn’t have to find out.
7. UCLA's Short-Sleeves Uniform
Is a USC graduate running the Adidas design department? That’s the only explanation we can think of for the atrocity to the left.
While the postseason uniforms that the Three Stripes came up with for the 2013 postseason are hideous as a whole, UCLA’s are especially a travesty.
Between the short sleeves, the Zubaz stripes on the sleeves and shorts and the general appearance of the jersey that looks more fitted for a football field, this look is a disgrace for a program with so much tradition and some of the best and classy uniforms in the country.
Given that these are for the Pac-12 and NCAA tournament, we wouldn’t blame Bruin players for wanting to miss the Big Dance this year.
6. Northwestern's Night Gown Uniform
Oh, Northwestern. The only BCS conference team never to make the NCAA tournament has looked bad on the hardwood in multiple ways over the years, as awful basketball has been combined with worse uniforms over the last two decades.
Case in point: Northwestern’s night gown uniforms from late 1990s. If you think they look bad in the picture on the left, take a closer look at Evan Eschmeyer sporting them here and here. Yeah, that just happened.
The ridiculous underlined lettering on the uniform with the “N” logo on either side was bad enough on its own. Throw in the silky purple cloth that looks more fitted for the women’s nightware section at a T.J. Maxx and it’s a wonder the Wildcats got any recruit to come to Evanston during this era.
Like pretty much everything in Northwestern’s basketball history, these uniforms are cringe-inducing.
5. Kansas State's Two-Toned Uniform
Purple strikes again. When you’re lost in the shadow of an intrastate rival that plays on a court named after basketball’s inventor, you’ll do anything to try and stand out - including making your jerseys and shorts two different tones of purple.
The Wildcats’ unique look was first introduced in the 1970s but didn’t receive notice until 1981, during an unlikely run to the Elite Eight. “The immediate instinct is to laugh,” wrote one Washington Post scribe of that Rolando Blackman-led team, “for its uniforms are the sort of two-tone purple nobody beyond a beer league would dare wear in public.”
ESPN’s Page 2 went even further, once voting them the ugliest uniforms in all of college sports. Hilariously enough, K-State still breaks out the two-tone look every now and then, just for fun. If you’re going to always be labeled as the redheaded — err, purple-clad in this case — stepchild, you might as well embrace it.
4. Evansville's Sleeved Jerseys
While sleeved jerseys are becoming a new fad in college hoops and the NBA, Evansville was rocking sleeved unis for decades up until the 2002-03 season.
The look was absolutely horrendous, as the Purple Aces’ players looked like they were wearing massively oversized V-neck t-shirts instead of basketball jerseys.
Why it took the school more than 50 years to come to its senses, we have no idea.
3. Kentucky’s Cat Claw Uniform
Poor Tony Delk. One year before earning SEC Player of the Year and NCAA tournament MOP honors while sporting the previously discussed denim uniforms, he was a First Team All-SEC performer during the 1994–1995 season with a serious case of cat scratch fever running down the sides of his shorts. Note to designers: Any uniform with scratch designs on it is a bad idea. Yet the mistake continues to be made nearly two decades later.
Despite wearing shorts whose design was seemingly stolen from pants worn by hair metal band members, Kentucky won in these too, reaching the 1995 Elite Eight.
2. Kansas’ Yellow Uniform
Most Jayhawks fans remember the 1987–1988 team for “Danny and the Miracles” and their unlikely run to the national title. Unfortunately, KU’s yellow uniform is also part of that historic year.
Yes, in a 68–63 road victory at Western Carolina that season, Kansas wore yellow uniforms. Why yellow when the school colors are crimson and blue? Our best conjecture is that it was an ode to The Wizard of Oz (“Follow the yellow brick road…”). Thankfully, coach Larry Brown vowed that they would never be used again after receiving significant backlash from fans.
Even more horrifying than the uniforms themselves is that someone saw fit to pay $650 for one of them during a March 2011 online auction through KU’s athletics website.
1. Marquette’s Baby Bib Uniform
The shining moment for Marquette’s basketball program, the 1977 NCAA title game win over North Carolina, came when Al McGuire’s players were clad in jerseys that, at best, resembled baby bibs. At worst, it looked like maternity wear.
They were the brainchild of one of McGuire’s former players, Bo Ellis, who had an interest in fashion design at the time. The Chicago native provided Medalist Industries with his design, which called for the jerseys — with “Marquette” written across the bottom — to be purposely untucked.
“We liked them,” former MU guard Gary Rosenberger told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last February. “Our coach was different and we were different as players, so those uniforms were perfect for our personality.”
If only we could agree with your sentiment, Gary. When you combine the baby-blue-and-gold color scheme with the baby-bib look and tiny gold shorts, you have the most hideous and emasculating uniforms in college basketball history.