With a rich history dating back to 1851 when Myrtilla Miner
founded a school for colored girls, and in 1879 when that evolved
into the Miner Normal School, athletics has had a prominent place
in the delivery of public higher education in the District of
Columbia. When the Wilson Teachers College was merged with Miner
Teachers College in 1955 to form the District of Columbia Teachers
College, athletics continued to play a prominent role in city
public higher education. Then, in 1977, when D.C. Teachers College
was consolidated with Federal City College and Washington Technical
Institute to form the University of the District of Columbia,
athletics assumed an enlarged role in this new institution.
The first official year of varsity competition for the new University was 1977-78. Almost immediately, the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics began the quest of placing this new University in the record book of athletics achievement by initially fielding baseball, basketball, football, tennis, soccer, track & field, and volleyball teams. The University competes at the NCAA Division II level, and now offers 10 varsity sports (men's/women's basketball, men's/women's cross-country, men's soccer, men's/women's tennis, women's indoor track, women's outdoor track & field and women's volleyball).
In 1982, the UDC Men's Basketball Team won the NCAA Division II Basketball Championship. The team completed the 1981-82 regular season with a 25-2 record, before going on to win the National Championship. Also in 1982, Firebird standouts Michael Britt and Earl Jones became the first All-America male athletes in the history of the University. The following year, the Men's Basketball Team returned to the National Championship Tournament and left as the 1983 Division II Championship Runner-up.
Other notable achievements of UDC Athletes include track star Elizabeth Young being named the first UDC All-American in 1979, as a result of her performances in AIAW Track and Field competition. The 1987-88 Lady Firebirds Basketball Team became the first UDC female athletic team to participate in NCAA Post-Season Play. The team finished the season with a 24-3 record, which earned them an invitation to the Playoff. Then in 1995, the Lady Firebirds Basketball Team won the NCAA Division II South Atlantic Region Independent Tournament.
The Women's Basketball Team won the National Independent School's Women's Basketball Championship in 2008, and won all of their games in the 2009 Independent Tournament, which was truncated due to the lack of a sufficient number of participating schools.