The University of Chicago Crew began in March 1976, training at the Lincoln Park Boat Club on the northside and competing in races all over the country. In June 1979, the Lincoln Park Boathouse was closed for renovations, and the University of Chicago Crew was forced to relocate to the Chicago River where there were numerous facilities and equipment issues. The team was able to return to Lincoln Park in the spring of 1980. By the spring of 1982, the men's and women's teams were functioning together as one coed team, practicing at the same time and sharing administrative duties.

The University of Chicago Varsity Men made history in 2003 when they medalled at the Head of the Charles in the Men's Club 4+ division. Since then, both the men and the women have medalled at the Charles in the Collegiate 4+ divisions as well as the Dad Vail Regatta and the ACRA Championship Regatta. The current program is more competitive and successful than ever before and still growing.