Athletics and physical education (PE) have always played an important role at Alverno College. Physical education was a requirement for degree completion at Alverno from 1948 through 1976. Two years of PE were required until 1965; after that, one year of PE was deemed sufficient.
From the early 1950s and through the 1960s, basketball and volleyball were offered on a state level, under the auspices of the Wisconsin Athletic Federation of College Women. The purpose of this group was “to teach and train coaches and provide a healthful program.” Alverno teams competed against Marquette University, Cardinal Stritch, Wisconsin Extension, La Crosse, and State Teachers College (which later became the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee).
In 2000, athletics made its return to the college with the unveiling of the Alverno Inferno. In addition to the renovation of the gymnasium, locker rooms, offices for the athletics staff, a fitness center, an athletic training room, and team room were created. Basketball and volleyball were the first intercollegiate varsity sports offered while cross country, soccer and softball began intercollegiate competition in 2001.
In 2009, Alverno added tennis as its sixth intercollegiate sport.