Student athletic clubs for crew, soccer, and basketball had formed when UAH became an independent institution in 1969. The original team mascot, selected through student contest, was the Uhlan, a non-traditional nickname containing the letters U, A, and H. The name was amended to Uhlan Chargers for the war horses the Uhlans rode, and as a nod to the electricity generated in the Tennessee Valley region through the Tennessee Valley Authority. Over time, the use of the name Uhlan faded, leaving Chargers as the official mascot. The students chose blue and white as the colors to avoid similarity to the crimson and white of UAH’s parent school, the University of Alabama.
In 1973, UAH’s elevated its crew, men’s soccer, and men’s basketball, to varsity status, and the university became a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
Women’s basketball was added in 1977. Men’s ice hockey was elevated from club to varsity in 1985, along with the addition of men’s and women’s cross country.
UAH became a Division II member of the NCAA beginning with the 1986-87 academic year, along with the addition of volleyball and tennis programs. Men’s and women’s cross country was suspended in 1987 because of proration, but were reinstated in 1992.
UAH joined the Gulf South Conference in 1993. Baseball, softball and women’s soccer were added in 1996.
The creation of track and field programs for women (2001) and men (2004) raised the number of programs to its current level of 14. The track and field programs are affiliate members of the Peach Belt Conference.
Men’s and women’s lacrosse began play in the spring of 2016.
Former UAH varsity programs are men’s golf (eliminated in 1987) and crew (relegated in club status).
Current UAH varsity programs:
The Alabama–Huntsville Chargers (or UAH Chargers) are the intercollegiate athletic teams representing the University of Alabama in Huntsville in Huntsville, Alabama. UAH sponsors eight men’s and eight women’s varsity athletics programs. UAH is a member of the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), competing in Division II in 17 sports and Division I in men’s ice hockey. UAH is a member of the Gulf South Conference in all sports except hockey (Western Collegiate Hockey Association), track and field (Peach Belt Conference), and lacrosse (independent).
UAH was the host institution for the 2012 Frozen Four at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Florida.