Sam Houston State Bearkats
|Sam Houston State Bearkats|
|University||Sam Houston State University|
|Athletics director||Bobby Williams|
|Football stadium||Bowers Stadium|
|Basketball arena||Johnson Coliseum|
|Baseball stadium||Don Sanders Stadium|
|Fight song||Bearkat Fight Song|
|Colors||Orange and White
The Bearkats represent Sam Houston State University in intercollegiate athletics.
Sam Houston State's colors are orange and white and their mascot is the Bearkats. Sam Houston State sports teams participate in NCAA Division I (Football Championship Subdivision (FCS-formerly known as Division I-AA) for football) in the Southland Conference. SHSU's primary rival is Stephen F. Austin State University and tensions between the two schools can run high before major sporting events that pit one against the other.
As a whole, the Sam Houston State athletic department captured the Southland Conference Commissioner's Cup in 2005, 2006, and 2007 for all-around athletic department  and topped the Southland Conference for all-academic recognition. The Kats are the only athletic department in the Southland Conference to get the Commissioner's Cup for 3 consecutive years.
Sam Houston boasts both the best average student athlete GPA as well as the highest number of student athletes named to the Southland Conference honor roll. This is particularly evident in the men's basketball program, which fielded 6 of the 13 student athletes who gained Academic All-Conference honors, including junior Ryan Bright, who was also named student athlete of the year for men's basketball.
Willie Fritz is the head football coach (2010–present) at Sam Houston State University and was the 2011 American Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year and 2012 AFCA Regional Coach of the Year.
In 2011, Fritz's second year as head coach, the Bearkats were the only FCS school to have an undefeated regular season thus earning the team the a number one seed in the playoffs. The 2011 Bearkats were NCAA Division I National Championship Finalists, eventually losing to the North Dakota State Bison in the FCS National Championship game. They would return to the title game the following season, only to lose to the North Dakota State Bison again.
Every year, the “Battle of the Piney Woods" rivalry game is held between the SFASU Lumberjacks and the Bearkats. The Bearkats have dominated the rivalry for the past decade and own an all-time advantage in the football series 50-35-2, including 10 of the last 13.
The football team was previously coached by Todd Whitten, who played quarterback at rival institution Stephen F. Austin State University. Whitten's record at Sam was 25-28 overall. Whitten was released from his coaching duties on Nov. 23, 2009.
Whitten was preceded by Ron Randleman, who served as head coach at Sam Houston from 1982 to 2004. Randleman took over in the school's first year competing in NCAA Division II and four years later, the Bearkats moved up to Division I. He wasted no time in competing in Division I, leading the team to the playoffs in the school's first season in the NCAA's highest division in 1986. The next season, the Bearkats joined the Southland Conference. In the school's Division I history, the Bearkats have claimed 5 Southland Conference titles (1991, 2001, 2004, 2011, 2012) and 6 playoff appearances (1986, 1991, 2001, 2004, 2011, 2012). They have posted an overall Division I playoff record of 4-5. One of their most successful playoff run came in the final season of Randleman's coaching career in 2004 when the team made an appearance in the semifinals of the Division I playoffs. This was made possible by a remarkable 4th quarter comeback in the 2nd round at Eastern Washington when the Bearkats rallied from 20 points down and scoring the tying TD pass from Dustin Long to Jason Mathenia as time expired, winning the game on the PAT. This is still remembered as one of the greatest comebacks in Division I playoff football history.
The Bearkats also shared the NAIA national title with Concordia (MN) in 1964, when they finished the national championship game in a 7-7 tie.
In recent history, the football team has had considerable success with transfer quarterbacks transferring from Football Bowl Subdivision Schools (formerly I-A). In 1999, Chris Chaloupka transferred from Oklahoma State University. In 2001, Josh McCown transferred from Southern Methodist University. In 2004, Dustin Long transferred from Texas A&M University. In 2008 the team was led by senior QB transfer from the University of Oklahoma, Rhett Bomar. Bomar entered the 2009 NFL draft and was selected in the 5th round (151 overall) by the New York Giants. In 2009, University of Houston transfer Blake Joseph was the starting quarterback.
Both men's and women's basketball teams hold home games in Bernard Johnson Coliseum located on the campus of Sam Houston State University. Built in 1976, Johnson Coliseum is a 6,100 multi-seat arena that serves as host to both basketball and volleyball home matches.
The men's program has been the most consistent in the conference over the past decade under the direction of former head coach Bob Marlin, winning regular season titles in 2000 and 2003 with an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2003 (the first in school history), and again in 2010. The Bearkat men's basketball team has won more games in the 11 seasons under Coach Marlin than any other Southland school. The team also ranks #2 in wins among Division I schools in Texas in the current decade behind the Texas Longhorns. The Bearkat teams under Coach Marlin have compiled five 20-win seasons. Marlin's teams have been the only teams among Texas Division I programs to win at least 2 conference championships in the past 6 seasons. Under the direction of Bob Marlin, Bearkat men's basketball players have broken 23 school records and 30 Division I school records.
Since the departure of Bob Marlin to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 2010, the Bearkat Men's Basketball team has been under the direction of Jason Hooten, who had previously served as an assistant under Bob Marlin. In his first year as Head Coach, Hooten produced an 18-13 record, while garnishing a #3 seed in the Southland Conference tournament.
The women's basketball team began play in 1969 under coach Jody Conradt and were a force in their first 5 seasons with an overall 92-31 record. Under current head coach Brenda Nicholls the Bearkats have seen success in recent years, earning Southland Conference tournament berths in each of the last four seasons, including one regular season conference championship, a tournament final, a Women's Basketball Invitational appearance and a WNIT appearance. In team history, the squad has seen postseason action in 20 seasons, with the most successful run being in 2013 where the Bearkats earned berth into the Women's National Invitation Tournament, where the team lost to Tulane in the opening round, 57-65. The Bearkats lone Women's Basketball conference championship came in 2013. The girl's basketball program is among the most efficient programs in NCAA Division I, ranking # 2 nationally in cost per win in 2006 at less than $25,000 per win with 18 wins against Division I opponents (21 overall).
Track & Field / Cross Country
The Bearkats have had recent success with the Men's and Women's Track & Field teams; capturing both the Men's and Women's Southland Conference Outdoor Team Championships in 2005 and 2006. The Women's Team added the school's first Indoor Track & Field Team Championship in 2007.
The men's and women's track & field / cross country program have captured seven conference team championships since 2005. The Men won back-to-back team championships at the 2005 and 2006 Southland Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The Women's Team added the school's first Indoor Track & Field Team Championship in 2007, and have won five championships since 2005. Winning the Outdoor Track & Field Championships in 2005, 2006, and 2008 and winning the 2007 and 2008 Southland Conference Indoor Track & Field Championship. The current Men's and Women's Head Coach is David Self who took over the position in July 2009 following the resignation of former Head Coach, Curtis Collier, who has taken a position as the Athletic Department Compliance Coordinator. Self is the direct event coach of the SHSU sprinters and hurdlers. Jesse Parker has been with the program since the Fall of 2002. He currently serves as an Associate Coach and works with the cross country, middle and long distance runners. He is also the Recruiting Coordinator for both the Men's and Women's Track & Field / Cross Country Programs. The other Associate Coach is Clint Blinka. Blinka works with the vertical jumpers as well as the combined event athletes. USA Olympic Trials runner up in the Hammer throw Chris Cralle currently coaches the throwing events.
- "Sam Houston State Claims Third Straight Commissioners Cup". Southland Conference. Retrieved 2013-04-12.
- "SHSU's Willie Fritz Named AFCA Coach of the Year". Retrieved 2013-04-12.
- "Willie Fritz earns AFCA Regional Coach of the Year". Retrieved 2013-04-12.
- "SHSU receives No. 1 seed in FCS playoffs". Retrieved 2013-04-12.
- "FCS National Championship Game Notes: North Dakota State 17 Sam Houston State 6". Retrieved 2013-04-12.
- "FCS NatSam Houston State feels the blow again". NCAA.com. Retrieved 2013-04-12.
- "Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum". Sam Houston State Athletics. Retrieved 2013-04-27.
- "Sam Houston State Men's Basketball Notes". Sam Houston State Athletics. Retrieved 2013-05-14.
- SHSU Women's Basketball Record Book: Annual Team Record. Sam Houston State Athletics. p. 2.
- "Tulane First Hurdle Thursday in WNIT". GoBearkats.com. 2013-03-20. Retrieved 2013-06-06.
- "Sam Houston State Falls to Tulane in WNIT First Round". Southland.com. 2013-03-21. Retrieved 2013-06-06.
- "SHSU women win Southland Championship". GoBearkats.com. 2013-03-08. Retrieved 2013-06-06.