Marquette Basketball: Winning in Style since 1977

For those of you who are either Marquette Basketball fans or just college basketball fans in general, we can all agree that Marquette has always been a trendsetter when it comes to their uniforms. Beginning with legendary coach Al McGuire and continuing still today, Marquette has never been afraid to raise the bar. McGuire, who was hired by Marquette in 1964, put the school on the map by leading the team to a 295–80 record and it’s first and only national championship in 1977. However, it was his willingness to push the envelope by putting the team in some cutting-edge uniforms while winning all those games that helped separate them from every other team during that time.

Marquette was one of the only teams who changed their uniforms every year. The typical college basketball uniform was either white or a darker color however, Marquette decided to spice things up. From the bumble bee jerseys to the famous stripes that we see making a comeback more recently, they have always stood out from the crowd. The jersey that gets the most recognition would be the famous “untucked” jersey. This jersey was designed by Bo Ellis himself while he was still playing for Marquette.

Featured in this photo is Bo Ellis. (Retrieved from Marquette University archives).

It might be hard to expect considering Bo’s background, however, he actually majored in fashion design. The university allowed him to take classes at Mount Mary University and have the credits transferred over.

The story of how Bo ended up designing the jersey is a funny one. Ellis retells the story in ESPN’s story “Untucked”. “One day Lloyd Walton went up to Coach and said, ‘Coach, why don’t you let Bo design the next set of uniforms?’ I’ll never forget,” Ellis said. “We were in Coach’s office right there on 19th and Wisconsin, down in the basement. And Coach says, ‘All right, sure.’ And he laughed. He didn’t think that I’d really do it. So that night I went back to the dorms, drew up the uniform. Got some colored pencils and drew up a warmup, outlined everything. We came back the next morning and I set it on Coach’s desk. And Coach looked up at me and said, ‘Bo, this is pretty good. Let me get back to you.’ ”

As promised, McGuire did just that a few days later, and eventually Bo sat down with some of Medalist’s designers and hammered out the uniform.

The untucked jersey became the talk of college basketball. Bo said the untucked look was intended for comfort as much as it was for style. Marquette wound up using it as late as the 1983-’84 season before the NCAA banned the look.

Because of Al McGuire and his particular style of coaching Marquette truly made it’s mark in college basketball. Marquette is not your typical school. The students here are a different breed. It is a small university but it is filled with an enormous amount of school spirit that does not go unnoticed. Marquette may not win all the time but when they do, they win in style and it is remembered for a life time.

Photo of a Sports Illustrated cover of their championship win in 1977. (Retrieved from the Marquette University archives).