VARSITY TEAMS: 22
INTRAMURAL SPORTS: 31
FAMOUS ALUMNI: MARK SPITZ, ISIAH THOMAS
EXTRA CREDIT FOR: HOOSIERS HOOPS FAITHFUL
Let's debunk a few myths about basketball-crazy Indiana. The campus roadways are not paved in polyurethane-coated hardwood. Backboards and rims are not attached to every dorm. Truth is, the Hoosiers have won more NCAA titles in swimming (six) than in basketball (five), and only two fewer national crowns in soccer and cross-country (three each).
Moreover, there's an on-campus athletic institution as celebrated as that grumpy basketball coach in the red sweater: the Little 500 bicycle relay, held every April. The event was launched in 1951 by university fund-raiser and racing buff Howdy Wilcox, whose father, Howard, won the 1919 Indianapolis 500. The Little 500, in which 33 teams of four riders (30 teams in the women's race) ride 200 laps around a quarter-mile cinder track, has been the focus of a movie (Breaking Away, winner of the 1979 Oscar for best screenplay), has been aired on national TV and has generated more than $700,000 in scholarship money (from ticket sales and sponsors). "I tell people who don't go here about the race—10,000 students watching people they've never heard of ride a bike around a track—and they think it's ridiculous," says senior rider Mike Krueger. "They can't understand the passion people here have for this event."
That passion extends to other sports. Indiana's intramural and club programs run the gamut from basketball (of course) to Wiffle ball and involve more than 15,000 of the school's 25,773 students. The Hoosiers' football team may not have finished in the Top 25 since 1993, but every year it battles old rivals for possession of an antique shop's worth of musty hardware: the Oaken Bucket ( Purdue), the Old Brass Spittoon ( Michigan State) and the Bourbon Barrel ( Kentucky).
Still, the Little 500 is the school's athletic treasure. Students train for it intensely, some paying their way to Florida or Texas during spring break to put in up to 80 miles a day of warm-weather riding. Riders also make what some might call a college student's greatest sacrifice. "We can't go party all night if we want to perform on the track," says senior rider Rob Rhamy. "But nothing matches the high of being recognized by other students as one of the guys who won the Little 500."