In 2000, after more than 73 years, Wheaton College changed the name of its mascot from the Crusaders to the Thunder. Wheaton announced that it would no longer use symbols that did not reflect the schools Christian values and goals. The school engaged in a lengthy design process that involved students, faculty, and alumni to help select a new symbol.

The Thunder compete in many NCAA Division III sports through the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW). Wheaton has fielded national championship teams in men's basketball (1957), men's soccer (1984 and 1997) and women's soccer (2004, 2006 and 2007).