Texas A&M–Commerce Lions

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Texas A&M–Commerce Lions
University Texas A&M University–Commerce
Conference Lone Star Conference
NCAA Division II
Athletic director Ryan Ivey
Location Commerce, TX
Varsity teams 12
Football stadium Memorial Stadium
Basketball arena Texas A&M-Commerce Field House
Soccer stadium Lion Soccer Complex
Mascot Lucky The Lion
Nickname Lions
Fight song "Texas A&M-Commerce Fight Song"
Colors
     Blue       Gold
Website www.lionathletics.com

The Texas A&M–Commerce Lions (also TAMUC Lions and formerly East Texas State Lions and ETSU Lions) are the athletic teams that represent Texas A&M University–Commerce, located in Commerce, Texas, in NCAA Division II intercollegiate sports. The Lions compete as members of the Lone Star Conference for all 12 varsity sports. A flagship member, Texas A&M University–Commerce remains from the original league formed in 1931.

Traditions[edit]

  • University Alma Mater

The abridged lyrics of the Texas A&M-Commerce Alma Mater.

"Let our voices loudly ringing, Echo far and near, Songs of praise, thy children singing, to thy memory dear."

"Alma Mater, Alma Mater, Loud our praises ring, Hail to thee, our Alma Mater, Hail, all hail TAMUC!"

The last lines were originally written "Hail, all hail ET!", then was changed to "All Hail to Thee." Students have been using TAMUC for the past decade for the school's new identity, and many alums still sing the Alma Mater using ET.

  • Fight Song

The A&M-Commerce fight song is the tune "Corrine", which has no lyrics. Fans clap and yell, "All Right!" at the end of the playing of the fight song by the Texas A&M University-Commerce "Pride" Marching Band.

  • The Victory Bell

TAMUC has numerous traditions regarding athletic activity that are dearly held by students and alums alike. In 1909, the "Victory Bell" was taken to campus which originally served a purpose of calling students to class and ending the day when the school was located in Cooper, Texas. Sam Rayburn, the longest serving Speaker of the United States House of Representatives in history, was one of the many students who rang the bell to call students to class. When the bell was moved, it was used to celebrate victories and in the 1950s due to the tremendous amount of victories and the actions of some rowdy students, the clapper of the bell was worn out. The bell still resides in a campus walkway and is considered good luck for new students to walk by the bell and athletes as well in their pursuit of success.

  • The Chennault Cup

The Chennault Cup is a traveling trophy that is given to the winner of the annual Football game between A&M-Commerce and Texas A&M University-Kingsville. The trophy is named in honor of famous World War I and World War II pilot Claire Chennault, who was born in Commerce, but spent time training and teaching at the Naval Air Station Kingsville during his distinguished military career.

  • The President's Cup

The President's Cup is a traveling trophy that is awarded to the winner of the annual Football game between A&M-Commerce and Tarleton State University. The Cup is sponsored by the Texas A&M University System and the Presidents of the respective institutions as TAMUC and TSU are the two largest schools in the A&M System behind Texas A&M University, the flagship institution.

  • The Roll Call

After every home Football victory, the members of the Football team sings the chorus of the high church hymn, When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder. The tradition was introduced in the 1950s under then coach Jules V. Sikes, who would have his players sing the song while practicing at 5:00 a.m. in the morning. A player introduced the idea to Sikes and the roll call was introduced and still sung to this day after every home victory.

  • Greek Row

Students who are members in various fraternity and sororities at TAMUC place their Greek letters on an iron fence behind the south end zone and usually sit behind the Football team on the First row of the stands at Memorial Stadium.

Facilities[edit]

Memorial Stadium is home to Lion Football, and the Men's and Women's track teams. A&M-Commerce hosts its own invitational collegiate meet, in addition to hosting the conference championship meet on a regular basis. Texas A&M-Commerce Field House is home to Lady Lion Basketball, Lion Basketball, and Lady Lion Volleyball. Other athletic facilities are the Lady Lion Soccer complex, one of the best in the Lone Star Conference, and the Cain Sports center, which housed the club baseball and softball teams in addition to intramural fields, and will most likely be the home of the future Baseball and Softball programs that will be put in place by the 2015 school year. The Cross Country program also hosts a dual collegiate and high school meet during the fall at Centennial Park in Commerce, the Dr. Margo Harbison Invitational.

The Texas A&M-Commerce athletic department also hosts the University Interscholastic League's Conference AAA Region II Championships in Boy's and Girl's Basketball, Boy's and Girl's Track and Boy's and Girl's golf. These are High School Regional tournaments that decide who will compete in the State Championships in Austin, Texas.

Varsity sports[edit]

List of Teams[edit]

National Championships[edit]

National Champions-

  • Men's Basketball- (1954–1955)
  • Men's Golf (Team)- (1965)
  • Football- (1972)
  • Men's Tennis-(Team) (1972)
  • Men's Tennis-(Team) (1978)

Conference Championships By Sport[edit]

All Championships as members of the Lone Star Conference.

Football[edit]

1933, 1934, 1935, 1937, 1938, 1942, 1949, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1966, 1969, 1972, 1980, 1983, 1990, 2007 (North Division), 2009 (North Division), 2014.

Volleyball[edit]

1986, 1987

Women's Soccer[edit]

1999, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2013, 2014.

Women's Basketball[edit]

2006-2007

Men's Basketball[edit]

1934, 1936, 1939, 1940, 1942, 1948, 1950, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1957, 1958, 1964, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1984, 1990, 1996, 1998 (North), 2005.

Men's Track & Field[edit]

1939, 1942, 1947, 1948, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968.

Men's Golf[edit]

1942, 1964, 1965, 1998.

Men's Tennis[edit]

1933, 1941, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1985, 1986, 1987

Individual Sports[edit]

Track and Cross Country[edit]

  • Head Track Coach-Tom Tibbern (2nd Season)

TAMUC has a rich tradition in Track and Field and also a strong Cross Country program. John Carlos, a world class sprinter ran at Commerce as a member of the ETSU track team in the late '60s and went to the Olympics in Mexico City where he, along with Tommy Smith, made the famous silent protest while accepting their medals. The Women's teams have also placed numerous All-American runners and athletes. TAMUC hosts an annual meet, the East Texas State Relays, named in honor of the name of the former school. The Cross Country programs have also strong traditions and have placed several athletes in the NCAA Championship meets. The Cross Country teams used to host a dual meet high school and collegiate meet in the Fall, named the Dr. Margo Harbison Invitational in honor of the former TAMUC Athletic Director, but was cancelled after the 2008 season.

Women's Soccer[edit]

  • Head Coach-Neil Piper (15 seasons)

The Lady Lion Soccer program is a conference power and a regional elite team. Since competition started in 1996, the Lady Lions have won the Conference Championship 4 times and have been to the NCAA Regional Soccer Championships 4 times.

Women's Basketball[edit]

  • Head Coach-Jason Burton (1st Season)

TAMUC's Lady Lions Basketball made a run at a National Championship in 2006–07, finishing in the NCAA Division II Elite 8. That same year, they won their first and to date, only conference championship.

Men's Basketball[edit]

  • Head Coach-Sam Walker (13th Season)

The Men's Basketball team has won almost 1,300 games in the program's history, 20 conference titles, and won the National Championship during the 1954–1955 season. The team was featured as an opponent of Texas Western University's (now The University of Texas at El Paso) historic color barrier breaking team in the Walt Disney film Glory Road during the 1966 season. The game was shown as being played in Commerce as the arena it was shot in had very close resemblance to the University Fieldhouse, where the Lions play to this day. TAMUC continues to be one of the best programs in the Lone Star Conference for Men's Basketball.

Volleyball[edit]

  • Head Coach-Craig Case (4th Season)

TAMUC's Volleyball team is one of the best in the Lone Star conference is and almost always in contention for a Conference Championship. With numerous All-Americans, the program has a .600 plus winning percentage all time. During the 1980s, Lion Volleyball was one of the most dominant programs in the entire nation.

Football[edit]

  • Head Coach-Colby Carthel (2nd Season)

The Lions have had 18 coaches in the program's history, and in the Spring of 2013 announced the 19th coach in the program's history naming Colby Carthel, a former assistant coach at conference rival West Texas A&M University to be head coach. The Lions have to their credit 4 collegiate Bowl Victories, 1 National Championship, and 24 conference titles. The program has produced many NFL players and had also produced an above average amount of professional standouts for a school its size. The Lions play their home games at Memorial Stadium in Commerce, Texas. TAMUC and is one of the few schools in the conference who has an on-campus stadium that is owned and operated by the school and not the city in which it resides. The 2014 season will be the 100th season that the Lions have been playing college football.

The First coach in the history of the program was Marion Mayo, who coached one season, winning two games and losing 1. The first game ever played in program history was Commerce High School Vs. East Texas Normal College (then the name of A&M-Commerce), played at Commerce City Park. Mayo only stayed for one season. The next coach was B.H. Miller, who like Mayo, coached for one season, winning one game, and losing one game. The following coaches would later come to Commerce to coach, none staying longer than 5 seasons. The program struggled for most of the first 16 seasons. The coaches in the early days were Johnny Garrity (1916–17, 5–6–1 record), E.M. Tipton (1919, 4–1–1 record), Cecil Cushman (1920, 2–5–1 record), Russell Jernigan, (1921–23, 9–15–1 record), Joe Murphy (1924–1928, 8–31–3 record), and Will Hill-Acker (1929–30, 2–13–1).

In 1931, the Lone Star Athletic Conference was formed. The teams competing in the conference were East Texas State (now Texas A&M–Commerce), North Texas State (now University of North Texas), Sam Houston State University, Southwest Texas State (now Texas State University), and Stephen F. Austin State University. Only TAMU-Commerce is still a member of LSC and in Division II; the other schools moved up to FBS status (North Texas and Texas State) or FCS (SFA and Sam Houston). J.W. Rollins became the head coach in 1931, the first year in the league. It would not take long before the Lions established themselves as an LSC elite team. The first conference title was captured with Rollins 1933 squad, and he repeated the task in 1934. Rollins left after the 1934 season, and Robert "Bob" Berry became the head coach. Berry was immensely successful, posting a 72–34–8 record. Berry did not coach during World War II, though the Lions fielded a team in the 1942 season, with Dennis Vinzant as the coach, posting a 4–3–1 record. The Lions did not field a team from 1943–1945 during World War 2. After the war years, Berry came back to coach the Lions from 1946–1950, leaving as by far the best coach in program history up to that point, winning 4 conference championships, and in the short 1942 season which Vinzant coached, the Lions also won the conference, laying the foundation for the next 50 years.

When Berry left Commerce, Milburn Smith became the head football coach. Smith was incredibly successful, winning 30 games in 3 seasons, only losing twice, and tying once and winning 3 conference titles. He got the Lions invited to the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando, Florida twice, Smith's Lions blew out Tennessee Tech 33–0 in the 1953 game, and tied Arkansas State 7–7 the next year. Smith however, left Commerce and moved back to his home area of East Texas, deciding to coach at Longview High School in Longview, Texas despite his immense success on the college level. After Smith left, Jules V. Sikes became the head coach after being the head coach at the University of Kansas. Sikes decided to take the job as he had coached basketball at East Texas State from 1931-1935 and the ETSU job was very much coveted. Sikes returned to Commerce, coaching from 1954–1963, winning 5 conference championships and two more Tangerine Bowl games in 1957 and 1958. Sikes also put together teams that were based on the T-Formation running attack. Much of the success was due to ETSU's powerful running game against teams that were faster but smaller, allowing the Lions to grind the games to low scoring but winning affairs. Sikes had amassed a 63–34–4 record before passing away suddenly in the spring of 1964. ETSU then named Assistant Head Coach Ernest Hawkins, a former standout athlete at Texas Tech University as head coach. Hawkins kept a run heavy offense and a punishing defense as his mode of operation, but also became the first Lion coach to incorporate somewhat of a passing game to complement the strong running game. Hawkins would win 132 games from 1964–1985. In 1972, Hawkins led the Lions to a National Championship with a 10–2 record. The 1972 team featured future NFL professionals such as Harvey Martin, Autry Beamon, Kenneth Parks, and Will Cureton. Hawkins was quoted in 2011 as saying he believed that with the amount of talent on the field he had that Lions could "have beaten any Division I school that year, especially that day we won the national title." The Lions made another run at a national title in 1980 behind future NFL-All Pro Quarterback Wade Wilson. The Lions won the conference again and defeated the University of Central Arkansas in the national quarterfinal round, but lost in the national semi-final game narrowly to eventual national champion Elon College. Hawkins retired at the end of the 1985 season, and Eddie Vowell, the defensive coordinator, was named head coach. The Lions struggled in Vowell's first two seasons but then in Vowell's third year, the Lions returned to LSC contender status. In 1990 the Lions won the LSC for the 23rd time and went to the NCAA playoffs, beating Grand Valley State in the first round, but lost to perennial Division II power Pittsburg State University in the national quarterfinals. The 1991 season saw the Lions get revenge on Pittsburg State during the regular season, snapping the Gorilla's 56 game winning streak, and win the LSC for the last time. Expectations were raised higher and higher after every game and many believed the Lions were the best team in the nation. However, the Lions faced off with PSU in the NCAA quarterfinals again, and the Gorillas avenged their loss 38–28 en route to a national championship. Despite bowing out in the quarterfinals, the Lions finished as the second best team in the country in Division II. In 1995 the Lions made the playoffs finishing second in the conference. The Lions received a tough first round draw against a Tim Walsh led Portland State Vikings team. Walsh was an offensive minded coach who had kept the Mouse Davis implemented Run and shoot offense at Portland. The Lions fell behind early, never having faced a passing team like Walsh's Vikings, but the Lions had a balanced offense and ended up losing in a shootout that caused the Vikings to keep their starters in the game to beat the Lions, 56–35. Vowell coached the Lions until the 1998 season, having one losing season in his final three years. He left Commerce with a 72–72 record. Vowell is credited with the immense success the Lions had in the late 1980s until mid-late 90's.

In 1996, East Texas State University was renamed Texas A&M University-Commerce. The previous year, the Texas A&M University System had purchased the University due to the desire of the A&M Board to have a strong education and smaller business school in its system. The first year that the Lions played under the A&M-Commerce moniker, the Lions had a solid 1996 season, and had to win their final 2 games of the year to make the playoffs again. However, in the next to last game of the year against a very weak Angelo State University team, A&M-Commerce lost a shocker and were left out of the playoffs. Since 1996, the Lions have not won a conference championship outright nor gotten to the playoffs, leading the student body to calling it the "A&M Curse." After Vowell retired, the school hired Eddie Brister, the former offensive coordinator at Stephen F. Austin State University as the new head coach. Brister only lasted 5 seasons in Commerce and had only won winning record. Brister's first two years saw the Lions play Division I FCS schools and Division II powers, but finishing above average in the Lone Star conference, then the next two years, Brister scheduled smaller schools and the Lions rolled to a 7–4 season, but did not finish well in conference play. In his final two seasons, the Lions won 3 games combined and for the first time in school history went winless in LSC play in 2003. In 2004, President Keith McFarland named A&M-Commerce alumnus Scott Conley as head coach. Conley had won a national championship on the junior college level with Trinity Valley Community College and had served as an assistant at major programs like The University of Texas, The United States Naval Academy, Texas A&M, University of Arkansas, and Rice University. Conley's first season was a rebuilding year, but was made easier by the incoming transfer of Buster Faulkner, an All-American Quarterback from Valdosta State University who led the Lone Star Conference in passing, throwing for almost 3000 yards in a 10 game season. Conley had two straight 5-5 seasons, but the Lions were improving. In 2006, the Lions had a top 10 defense in all of Division II football, but a woeful offense and constant switching of quarterbacks led the Lions to a disappointing 5–5 season. The Lions were expected to break through in 2007, as the Lions returned their entire defense from the previous year and better offensive players. The Lions started the 2007 season and visited old playoff nemesis Pittsburg State in front of a national television audience and almost upset the Gorillas in a hard fought 28–14 loss. Despite the loss, the Lions got a slot in the national poll at number 18. That ended as Ouachita Baptist came to Commerce and shocked the Lions on a last second field goal to win the game and knock the Lions out of the national picture. The Lions won the LSC North Division in 2007, but were left out of the playoff picture. Conley's final year was 2008, after going 5–5 for the fourth straight year, Conley was relieved of his duties and former Baylor University coach Guy Morriss was hired to replace Conley.

Morris brought several assistant coaches to Commerce with him that had Division I and NFL experience. Morriss was an All-American at TCU, had played in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles where he was an All-Pro lineman. Morriss has also coached at the University of Kentucky prior to Baylor and had coached under Hal Mumme, considered the father of the Air Raid offense, and current Washington State University coach Mike Leach. Morriss's father had also graduated from Texas A&M-Commerce and admitted a kinship for the school. In his first year, the Lions went 5–0 in Division play and won the North Division outright, and almost defeated long time rival Abilene Christian University at the Cotton Bowl in a rain soaked overtime game when ACU was # 1 in the nation. However, Morriss regressed with each season, going 3–8 the next year, and 1–9 in each of his last 2 seasons. After the Lions final 2012 game, a 45–14 loss to West Texas A&M, Morriss announced his immediate resignation and that he would stay at Commerce working in the athletic department to raise funds and also enhance alumni relations.

In January 2013, University President Dr. Daniel Jones and new Athletic Director Ryan Ivey announced the hiring of Colby Carthel as the new head coach. Carthel had great success in his first season, winning 7 games, defeating 2 ranked teams, and playing in the Live United Texarkana Bowl. The bowl game was the Lion's first postseason appearance in 18 years.

Lion Football postseason appearances[edit]

  • 1953 Tangerine Bowl, Texas A&M-Commerce 33, Tennessee Tech 0
  • 1954 Tangerine Bowl, Texas A&M-Commerce 7, Arkansas Tech 7
  • 1957 Tangerine Bowl, Texas A&M-Commerce 10, Southern Mississippi 9
  • 1958 Tangerine Bowl, Texas A&M-Commerce 26, Missouri Valley 7
  • 1972 NAIA National Semifinal, Texas A&M-Commerce 54, Central Oklahoma 0
  • 1972 NAIA National Championship, Texas A&M-Commerce 21, Carson-Newman 18
  • 1974 Florida Central Classic Bowl, Texas A&M-Commerce 7, Bethune-Cookman 7
  • 1980 NAIA National Quarterfinals, Texas A&M-Commerce 27, Central Arkansas 21
  • 1980 NAIA National Semi-Finals, Elon College 14, Texas A&M-Commerce 6
  • 1990 NCAA National Playoffs, Texas A&M-Commerce 20, Grand Valley State 14
  • 1990 NCAA National Quarter-Finals, Pittsburg State 60, Texas A&M-Commerce 28
  • 1991 NCAA National Playoffs, Texas A&M-Commerce 36, Grand Valley State 15
  • 1991 NCAA National Quarter-Finals, Pittsburg State 38, Texas A&M-Commerce 28
  • 1995 NCAA National Playoffs, Portland State 56, Texas A&M-Commerce 35
  • 2013 LiveUnited Bowl Texarkana Bowl, Harding 44, Texas A&M-Commerce 3
  • 2014 C.H.A.M.P.S Heart of Texas Bowl, Texas A&M-Commerce 72, East Central Oklahoma 21

9-5-2 All Time Postseason Record.

Golf[edit]

  • Head Coach-Dr. Louie Bledsoe

Both the Men's and Women's programs have sustained success under Coach Louise Bledsoe and have won numerous tournaments and had All-Americans every year in Bledsoe's tenure. The Lion Men Golf Team won a national championship in the spring of 1965.

Softball[edit]

  • Head Coach-Richie Bruister

A&M-Commerce will open the school's first ever softball season in the spring of 2015. Ground has already broken for the new facility and the players have been signed to the roster.

Tennis[edit]

Texas A&M-Commerce no longer has a Tennis program for men or women due mainly to Title IX legislation that caused the University make cuts to Men's sports to equally finance Women's sports. The tennis program was immenesely successful, winning team national championships in 1972 and 1978 and numerous conference championships.

References[edit]

External links[edit]