Arizona State Sun Devils

What You Need to Know About the Arizona State Sun Devils Before They Join the Big 12

NCAA Football: Arizona State at Arizona

The Arizona State Sun Devils are one of the four corners schools that will join the Big 12 Conference in August after the collapse of the Pac-12 Conference.

Arizona State, like its in-state rival Arizona, spent more than 40 years affiliated with the Pac-12, so moving to the Big 12 marks a big change in Tempe, Ariz. The Sun Devils also give Big 12 schools a new rival as their first year in league action starts in late August with fall sports.


Here are five things to know about the Sun Devils as their tenure in the Big 12 begins.


As one gets to know the history of Arizona, it’s easy to see that the histories of Arizona State and the University of Arizona are intertwined to some degree.

For instance, ASU was formed the same year as Arizona — 1885 — before Arizona was officially a state. While Arizona was a land grant university, Arizona State was first known as the Territorial Normal School and was formed to educate teachers. It didn’t adopt the Arizona State name until 1929 when it became Arizona State Teachers College. It officially became Arizona State University in 1958.

ASU is one of the largest institutions in the country. When you combine its on-campus undergraduate enrollment, graduate enrollment, and massive online initiatives, it has an enrollment of nearly 145,000 students. It’s also a member of the Association of American Universities and classified as a public research university.

Like Arizona, ASU followed the same trajectory when it came to conference affiliation. The school was independent until 1931, when it joined the Border Conference (1931-1961). After that, the Sun Devils joined the Western Athletic Conference (1962-1977) and the Pac-8 (1978-2023), which eventually became the Pac-12.



Entering the 2024-25 season, Arizona State sponsors 24 varsity sports — 10 men’s sports and 14 women’s sports. Along with the traditional “core five” sports that the vast majority of Big 12 teams field, the Sun Devils are one of the few sun belt teams that sponsors an NCAA men’s ice hockey team. ASU will be the only Big 12 team to sponsor one at the varsity level.

Across that swath of team sports, the Sun Devils have won 25 national titles, with its baseball team winning five College World Series titles. Bobby Winkles coached ASU to three of those titles and guided the development of Major League Hall-of-Famer Reggie Jackson. Former Arizona State star Rick Monday has the distinction of being the first player ever selected in the MLB Draft in 1965.

On the women’s side the golf team has won eight national championships. One of ASU’s most notable alums is men’s golf star Phil Mickelson. But the program has produced a slew of PGA Tour and LPGA Tour stars, including World Golf Hall of Famer JoAnne Carner, who is considered one of the legends of women’s golf.

Arizona State has never won a national championship in football, but it went undefeated three times in the 1960s and 1970s (once under Dan Devine and twice under Frank Kush). The Sun Devils’ 1996 team, led by quarterback Jake Plummer, went 11-0 in the regular season, won the Pac-10, and finished the regular season No. 2 in the AP Top 25. A loss to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl dropped them to No. 4 in the final poll.


If you read Heartland’s piece on Arizona, then you know the Sun Devils play the Wildcats for the Territorial Cup each year. It’s the oldest rivalry trophy in college football, as certified by the NCAA. The Cup was created in 1899 when the two teams played each other for the first time. Arizona State won the first game, 11-2. But Arizona State leads the series, 51-44-1.



Kenny Dillingham remains one of the youngest head football coaches in the country. The 34-year-old took over last season and led the Sun Devils to a 3-9 season. Ten years before taking the job he was Arizona State’s offensive analyst. He was the offensive coordinator at Oregon before taking the Arizona job.

Duke legend Bobby Hurley is the men’s basketball coach. Entering his 10th season at ASU, he has led the Sun Devils to three NCAA Tournament appearances, but they’ve never gotten past the first round. ASU hasn’t been past the first round since 2009 and hasn’t reached the Sweet 16 since 1995.

Natasha Adair leads the women’s basketball program. The former USF player worked her way through the ranks and was previously a head coach at College of Charleston, Georgetown, and Delaware before taking over at ASU in 2022. In two seasons, she is just 19-40 and won four Pac-12 games.   

Former ASU star William Bloomquist leads the baseball program. He carved out 13 years as a utility player in the Majors after he batted .394 for his college career and helped the Sun Devils reach the 1998 College World Series, where it lost to USC in the championship. In 1999 he was the Pac-10 Player of the Year and an All-American. In three seasons with ASU he is 90-81 but has yet to get the Sun Devils to the NCAA Tournament.

Morgan Bartlett just wrapped up her second season leading Arizona State’s softball program. She is 42-57 but has won just nine Pac-12 games. She was a two-time All-American at Notre Dame as a player and worked her way up to take over Ball State in 2016, where she went 141-108. She was an assistant coach at Texas before taking the ASU job.



Like Arizona, the Sun Devils are dealing with some issues off the field. ASU recently elevated executive senior associate athletic director and chief business officer Graham Rossini to athletic director last month, which ended a six-month gap after the resignation of Ray Anderson.

The Sun Devils football team was under a bowl ban last season due to NCAA Level I violations that occurred under former head coach Herm Edwards. However, there is a probationary period of four years that will result in scholarship reductions. Additionally, ASU president Michael Crow wasn’t exactly the biggest fan of the school joining the Big 12, but it became a necessary evil after it was clear the Pac-12 couldn’t get a true media deal done.

That said, at least the Sun Devils aren’t dealing with Arizona athletics’ massive financial shortfall at the moment.

ASU has a well-balanced portfolio of athletic programs, with its spring sports generally being its most successful.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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