Why Red & White
In 1891 red and white were chosen as the school colors. Forty years later, a rousing debate erupted between two priests, T.J. O'Connell class of 1892 and Patrick Foote, S.J., over the origins of that choice. What seems to be clear is that some teams wore red and white in the 1880s and that the student body petitioned for that combination of colors to be designated as the official school colors.
(from Serving the Intellect, Touching the Heart" by George Giacomini and Gerald McKevitt, S.J., Page 91)
But why Red and White?
In a 1932 issue of the student newspaper "The Santa Clara", O'Connell suggests the colors honored the Sacred Heart. Foote replies that red and white were the colors of the Bear Flag of California and he "led the students of the pioneer college in California to adopt them." O'Connell counters, "I remember very clearly that in the meeting no mention whatever was made of the Bear Flag." Foot has the final word: "The colors were at first chosen for the teams merely because of their pleasing appearance."