The Eastern Illinois Panthers are the men's and women's athletic teams representing Eastern Illinois University of Charleston, IL in the NCAA's Division I. Most Eastern Illinois teams, including the FCS football team, participate in the Ohio Valley Conference. The men's soccer and men's swimming and diving teams are associate members of The Summit League, and the women's rugby team (one of only three Division I and six total teams in this NCAA "emerging sport for women") is an independent. Eastern Illinois University's colors are blue and gray. The team mascot, a panther, was informally known as "Billy" until its name was officially changed to "Prowler the Panther," in 2003 and then changed back to "Billy the Panther" in 2008.
A member of the Ohio Valley Conference, Eastern Illinois University sponsors ten men's and eleven women's teams in NCAA sanctioned sports:
- * = Rugby is an NCAA "emerging sport" which is fully sanctioned, but does not yet have a national championship.
- 1981 NCAA Division II World Series Runner-Up.
- All time tournament results
|| First Round Winner
|| First Round Loser
|| Eastern Illinois
|| Eastern Illinois
- 1978 Division II National Champion, 1980 National Runner-Up.
- NCAA Division I Football Championship tournament appearances: 1982, 1983, 1986, 1989, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, & 2009, 2012, 2013.
- NCAA Division II runners-up in 1978, 3rd in 1977, and 4th in 1974.
- Stripped of 1981 Division I 3rd place finish.
Men's cross country
- 1968 – NCAA College Division National Champions
- 1969 – NCAA College Division National Champions
- 1977 – NCAA National Champions
Men's track and field
Team Championships (men's):
- 1974 – NCAA College Division National Champions
- 1955 – Ray White, NAIA Long Jump
- 1967 – John Craft, NAIA Triple Jump
- 1969 – John Craft, NCAA College Division Triple Jump
- 1972 – Rodney Jackson, NCAA College Division 400 hurdles
- 1973 – Rodney Jackson, NCAA College Division 400 hurdles
- 1974 – Darrell Brown, NCAA Division II Long Jump
- 1975 – Toni Ababio, NCAA Division II Long Jump
- 1975 – Toni Ababio, NCAA Division II Triple Jump
- 1976 – Ed Hatch, NCAA Division II 400 Meter Dash
- 1979 – Robert Johnson, NCAA Division II 110 hurdles
- 1981 – Augustine Oruwari, NCAA Division II 110 hurdles
- 1988 – Jim Maton, NCAA Division I 800 meter run (Indoor)
- 1992 – Dan Steele, NCAA Division I 400 hurdles
Eastern Loyalty or EIU Fight Song is the fight song for the university. The lyrics are:
We are loyal EIU, we're loyal and true –
'though the odds be great or small
we'll still be cheering you (rah! rah!)
so fight you Panthers for the glory of our dear name
fight on for Eastern, come on you Panthers win this game!
Notable former athletes
- Tim Bogar, retired Major League Baseball infielder
- Brad Childress, former head coach of the Minnesota Vikings
- Henry Domercant, professional basketball player in Europe
- Kevin Duckworth, former NBA All-Star forward
- Jimmy Garoppolo, quarterback for the New England Patriots
- Kyle Hill, professional basketball player in Europe
- Matt Hughes, 2x NCAA All-American wrestler, former UFC Welterweight Champion
- Marty Pattin, former MLB baseball pitcher for the California Angels, Seattle Pilots, Milwaukee Brewers, Boston Red Sox, and Kansas City Royals
- Sean Payton, head coach of the New Orleans Saints
- Kenny Robertson, 4x NCAA Division I qualifier for wrestling; current mixed martial artist for the UFC
- Tony Romo, quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys
- Micah Rucker, former wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs, and New York Giants; also played in the Arena Football League
- Mike Russow, current mixed martial artist
- Mike Shanahan, head coach of the Washington Redskins
- Chris Szarka, retired Canadian Football League fullback
- Pierre Walters, NFL linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs
- Jeff Gossett, former NFL punter for the LA/Oakland Raiders and 3 other NFL teams
- Ted Petersen, retired NFL Offensive/Defensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, and Indianapolis Colts
- Matt Veach, current mixed martial artist