WKU Hilltoppers and Lady Toppers
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (March 2008)|
|University||Western Kentucky University|
|Conferences||Sun Belt Conference
Conference USA (2014)
|NCAA||FBS (Formerly Division I-A)|
|Athletic director||Todd Stewart|
|Location||Bowling Green, KY|
|Football stadium||Houchens Industries -
L. T. Smith Stadium
|Basketball arena||E. A. Diddle Arena|
|Baseball stadium||Nick Denes Field|
|Nickname||Hilltoppers and Lady Toppers|
|Fight song||Stand Up and Cheer|
The WKU Hilltoppers and Lady Toppers are the athletic teams that represent Western Kentucky University (WKU). The men's teams uses the name Hilltoppers; however, the women's teams use the name Lady Toppers. The university's athletic program fields 17 varsity teams in 11 different sports. WKU participates in the Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and competes as a member of the Sun Belt Conference.
On March 12, 2010, Ross Bjork, who was the senior associate athletic director for Development and External Relations for the UCLA Bruins, replaced Dr. Wood Selig, as WKU's athletic director. But in March 2012, Bjork accepted the job as Athletic Director at Ole Miss. Todd Stewart, who had served as Senior Associate Athletic Director since 2010, was named interim athletic director until May when he was officially named athletic director.
|Sport||Basketball||Baseball||Cross country||Football||Golf||Soccer||Softball||Swimming and diving||Tennis||Track and field||Volleyball|
The Hilltoppers basketball program is nationally recognized, and reached the Final Four in 1971. Ray Harper is the current head coach of the Hilltoppers after Ken McDonald was fired in January 2012. The program is 8th-winningest program in NCAA history. The program has over 1,600 victories, forty 20-win seasons, 34 Postseason Tournament Appearances and 28 All-Americans.
During the 1990s, Lady Toppers basketball had a higher national profile than the men's program. In recent years, the Lady Toppers and Hilltoppers have had roughly equal success; under head coach Mary Taylor Cowles, the Lady Toppers won the Sun Belt Conference's regular season title four times in the last six years, advancing to the NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championship tournament in 2003 and 2008.
WKU football was a member of the Gateway Conference through the 2006 football season and then began its 2-year transition into becoming a full Division I FBS (formerly Division I-A) member. As a member of Division I-AA, now Division I FCS, the Hilltoppers won a Division 1-AA Football Championship in 2002. In 2008, the Hilltoppers were among the Division 1-A Independents, along with the Army Black Knights, Navy Midshipmen and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. In 2009, the Hilltoppers completed the transition and joined the Sun Belt Conference. In 2012, the Hilltoppers clinched the Sun Belt championship and their first ever bowl trip, but lost to Central Michigan in the Little Caesars' Pizza Bowl. On December 10, 2012, Bobby Petrino was announced as the new head football coach.
The men's golf team has won 10 conference championships:
- Ohio Valley Conference (9): 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1957, 1959, 1965, 1968, 1969
- Sun Belt Conference (1): 2006
WKU holds a long-standing rivalry with Cross-state Eastern Kentucky University. Up until 2008, the two schools' football teams competed annually in the "Battle of the Bluegrass", with WKU leading the all time series 47-34-3.
The rivalry with Middle Tennessee has become one of the most heated and most competitive in the Sun Belt, with each team fielding championship contending teams each year. The rivalry has grown in recent years due to the football teams' move into the FBS.
The Red Towel
The red towel is famous at WKU. The origins of the towel come from Hilltopper basketball head coach Edgar Diddle after getting upset that the team's towels were being stolen. He decided that all of the teams towels were to be red. After the red towels were made, Diddle threw them to the rafters, beat them on the floor, chewed on them, waved, twisted, and even cried into them.
|Tossed in the air||Pure climatic joy|
|Whirled overhead||Satisfaction and high expectation|
|Slapped violently on the floor||Extreme disappointment with players or referee|
|Twisted or braided||Outcome doubtful|
|Chewed||Outcome very doubtful|
|Used to shield the eyes||Horror or Shakesperian-like dismay|
|Rubbed on groin||Pure disgust|
- Jon Gold, Ross Bjork named Western Kentucky University A.D., Los Angeles Daily News, March 12, 2010
- WKU Herald, [Walking Away: Bjork introduced as Ole Miss AD], "WKU Herald," March 22, 2012
- WKU Herald, [Stewart named AD, will be announced Thursday], "WKU Herald," May 9, 2012
- ESPN , "ESPN," March 30, 2013
- Claybourn, Cole (6 January 2012). "Ken McDonald fired as Head Men's Basketball coach, Harper to take over". WKU Herald. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
- "2012–13 WKU Olympic Sports Record Book". Retrieved June 25, 2013.