SMU Mustangs

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SMU Mustangs
UniversitySouthern Methodist University
ConferenceAmerican Athletic Conference
NCAADivision I (FBS)
Athletic directorRick Hart
LocationDallas, Texas
Varsity teams17
Football stadiumGerald J. Ford Stadium
Basketball arenaMoody Coliseum
Soccer stadiumWestcott Field
Fight songPeruna
ColorsRed and blue[1]
SMU Athletics wordmark.svg
The American logo in SMU's colors

The SMU Mustangs are the athletic teams that represent Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, United States. The Mustangs were founded in 1911 and joined the Southwest Conference, competing against Baylor, Rice, Texas, Texas A&M, Arkansas and Oklahoma A&M (which later became Oklahoma State).

The football team has participated in various Bowl Games, from the Dixie Classic in 1924 to the Hawaii Bowl in 2012. Football alumni include Heisman winner Doak Walker, All-American Eric Dickerson, and two-time Super Bowl winner Forrest Gregg.

American Athletic Conference[edit]

The Mustangs participate in the NCAA Division I (FBS for football) as a member of the American Athletic Conference. SMU was the only private school in the conference when it began operation as The American in 2013, but it was joined by Tulane and Tulsa a year later. From 1918 to 1996, the Mustangs were a member of the Southwest Conference, until it formally disbanded. The Mustangs subsequently joined the Western Athletic Conference and in 2005, SMU accepted an invitation to the Western Division of Conference USA. They accepted an invitation to join the Big East Conference, which split along football lines in 2013, with SMU and the other FBS schools reorganizing as the American Athletic Conference.

Varsity sports[edit]

Men's sports Women's sports
Basketball Basketball
Football Cross country
Golf Equestrian
Soccer Golf
Swimming & Diving Rowing
Tennis Soccer
Swimming & diving
Track & field
† – Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor.


SMU in action versus UTEP in 2009
National titles

In 1935, SMU had a magnificent season: a 12–1–0 record, scoring 288 points while only giving up 39. The Mustangs completely dominated their opponents. They shut out eight of their 12 regular season opponents, including conference rivals Texas, Rice, Baylor, and Texas A&M. They were one of the most talented teams in school history. The 1935 Mustangs were crowned national champions by Frank Dickinson,[3] a nationally respected economics professor at the University of Illinois. Although Minnesota was proclaimed the 1935 national champion by the AP and UPI polls, SMU usually claims the 1935 national title without qualification, even though they lost the Rose Bowl, because the Dickinson System was the first to gain widespread national public and media acceptance as a selector of national champions.

SMU played in three National Championships in football, with a win in the 1982 Cotton Bowl Classic and an unofficial championship in the 1982 "Polyester Bowl." All told, the Mustangs have played in 15 Bowl Games, including one appearance in the Rose Bowl, four appearances in the Cotton Bowl Classic, and four straight bowl appearances following the Mustangs' 2009 resurgence in football.

Southwest Conference Championships
  • 1923
  • 1926
  • 1931
  • 1935
  • 1947
  • 1948
  • 1966
  • 1981
  • 1982
  • 1984*

* denotes shared title

Bowl Appearances and Results
Season Bowl Game Opponent W/L PF PA
1924 Dixie Classic West Virginia Wesleyan L 7 9
1935 Rose Bowl Stanford L 0 7
1947 Cotton Bowl Classic Penn State T 13 13
1948 Cotton Bowl Classic Oregon W 21 13
1963 Sun Bowl Oregon L 14 21
1966 Cotton Bowl Classic Georgia L 9 24
1968 Bluebonnet Bowl Oklahoma W 28 27
1980 Holiday Bowl BYU L 45 46
1982 Cotton Bowl Classic Pittsburgh W 7 3
1983 Sun Bowl Alabama L 7 28
1984 Aloha Bowl Notre Dame W 27 20
2009 Hawaii Bowl Nevada W 45 10
2010 Armed Forces Bowl Army L 14 16
2011 BBVA Compass Bowl Pittsburgh W 28 6
2012 Hawaii Bowl Fresno State W 43 10
2017 Frisco Bowl Louisiana Tech L 10 51
2019 Boca Raton Bowl Florida Atlantic University L 28 52
  • SMU's closest rival in athletics is Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth, Texas. In football, SMU and TCU compete annually (with the exception of 2006) for the Iron Skillet. In 2005, an unranked SMU beat then 24th ranked TCU for SMU's first win against a ranked team in 19 years (since October 1986). TCU had won the previous seven football games played against SMU.
  • SMU competes with the United States Naval Academy for the Gansz Trophy. The Gansz Trophy is awarded to the winner of the United States Naval Academy and Southern Methodist University football game. It was created in 2009 through a collaboration between the two athletic departments. The trophy is named for Frank Gansz who played linebacker at the Naval Academy from 1957 through 1959. Gansz later served as the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs and on the coaching staffs at Navy and SMU.

SMU once competed annually with Rice University in football for the Battle for the Mayor's Cup. SMU competes occasionally with the University of North Texas although there is no trophy to commemorate the winner.

  • The Doak Walker Award, an annual collegiate award given to the "most outstanding college running back", is named after SMU Heisman Trophy Winner Doak Walker.
  • On November 11, 2006, redshirt freshman quarterback Justin Willis broke the single season touchdown pass record held by Chuck Hixson (21). Willis threw for three touchdowns in a 37–27 loss to the University of Houston, setting the new single season record at 23. At the end of the season, Willis set the new record at 26. He also broke the SMU single season touchdown record accounting for 29 touchdowns. He was named to the Freshman All-American team at quarterback.
  • Starting in December 2014, Chad Morris was named the head football coach. Previously he was the offensive coordinator for Clemson University and the University of Tulsa. The first day after he was announced as head coach he was recruiting the DFW region for new players.

The "death penalty"[edit]

On February 25, 1987, the Infractions Committee of the NCAA voted unanimously to cancel SMU's entire 1987 football season and all four of SMU's scheduled home games in 1988 in spite of SMU's cooperation and recommended sanctions. On April 11, 1987, SMU formally canceled the 1988 season, in effect, self-imposing a death penalty for a second football season.[4]

The program was terminated for the 1987 season because the university was making approximately $61,000 in booster payments from 1985 to 1986. It later emerged that a "slush fund" had been used to pay players as early as the mid-1970s, and athletic officials had known about it as early as 1981.

SMU was eligible for this penalty because it had already been placed on probation less than five years prior to these violations – specifically, in 1985, for earlier recruiting violations. Since many players were poor, boosters would pay for rent or other bills for the parents of the athletes, and several key boosters and administration officials felt it would be unethical to cut off payments.[citation needed] When the sanctions were handed down, SMU had only three players – all seniors about to graduate – receiving payments.[citation needed]

Not long afterward, SMU announced that its football team would stay shuttered for the 1988 season as well after school officials received indications that they wouldn't have enough experienced players to field a viable team.[5] As it turned out, new coach Forrest Gregg was left with an undersized and underweight lineup. It took the Mustang football program almost a decade to recover from the effects of the scandal, the team not returning to a bowl game until 2009. Since returning from the Death Penalty seasons, SMU has had six non-losing seasons, two of them .500 seasons.


In men's basketball, the Mustangs have one Final Four Appearance accompanied by 14 Southwest Conference Championships. In July 2016, SMU hired Tim Jankovich to lead the Mustangs.

SMU's women's basketball team is coached by Coach Travis Mays. The team has advanced to the postseason 12 times since 1993 and is a rising power.


The men's soccer team is a consistent national contender,[citation needed] including a recent[when?] trip to the Elite Eight, and time spent as number one in the nation, finishing the season at number two, earning the school's sixth conference title in the sport.

  • During the 2006 season, the SMU men's soccer program was ranked No. 1 in the nation for four consecutive weeks. The team sat atop the four national polls with a record of 13–0–2 in the Adidas/NSCA poll, poll, Soccer America Magazine poll, and the poll.[citation needed] Concurrently, the SMU women's soccer program cracked the top 25, at No. 22 in the Adidas/NSCA poll and No. 19 in the poll.
  • The SMU men's soccer team finished the 2006 regular season ranked No. 2 in the nation.[citation needed] Additionally, SMU won the C-USA title game, beating Kentucky 2–0 in Tulsa. This C-USA championship win is the sixth conference title for SMU since 1997.
  • The SMU men's soccer team finished the 2010 season with an overall record of 16–2–2. The Mustangs finished the season with a trip to the quarterfinals where they lost to North Carolina in a penalty kick shootout.


The men's golf team won the 1954 NCAA Championship. In 2015, Bryson DeChambeau won the NCAA individual championship.

They have won nine conference championships:

In 2006, Golf Digest ranked the SMU men's golf program No. 16 in the nation. On May 1, 2007, SMU senior Colt Knost was named the Conference USA golfer of the year. He earned golfer of the week awards five times during his senior year, and can be recognized for shooting a record setting 64 for an amateur golfer.[citation needed] The 2015 team was given a postseason ban after multiple recruiting violations and unethical conduct under coach Josh Gregory. The decision also meant DeChambeau was not able to defend his title.

SMU's men's golf team has grown to be a national contender.[citation needed] It was named the number 16 golf team in the nation by Golf Digest in 2006, and produced pro golfer Colt Knost.

In 1979 Kyle O'Brien won the AIAW women's national intercollegiate individual golf championship.

Swimming & Diving[edit]

SMU men's swimming and diving was founded in 1932 in the former Southwest Conference. The men's and women's teams have acquired 57 conference titles combined, and have a total of 91 NCAA National Championship appearances. Six SMU swimmers/divers have been named NCAA swimmer/diver of the year. The Robson & Lindley Aquatic Center, the swimming and diving team's brand new Olympic sized pool, was built in 2017 to continue the legacy of successful swimming and diving at SMU.


SMU women's rowing achieved a program-best fourth-place finish at the 2018 American Athletic Conference championship under first year head coach Kim Cupini. The first varsity four won the program's first gold medal and the first varsity eight won bronze.[6] At the 2019 championship, the first varsity eight won gold, breaking University of Central Florida's long winning streak in the event.[7] At the 2019 championship, the SMU rowing team placed a program-best second place.


The Women's Equestrian Team at SMU competed under the United Equestrian Conference (UEC)[8] until 2019 and now compete under Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC).[9] The Dallas Equestrian Center (DEC) is the official stables where the team practices and hosts meets.[10]

Discontinued sports[edit]

SMU discontinued several sports in 1980; the university's financial position led to budget cuts across the university, and the university's athletic department had become too big to support.[11]


Southern Methodist University fielded a varsity baseball team from 1919 until it was discontinued after the 1980 season for financial reasons.[12][13] The Mustangs won the 1953 SWC baseball title.[14]


NCAA team championships[edit]

SMU has won four NCAA team national championships and eight overall national championships.[15]

Other national team championships[edit]

SMU won the following national championships that are not bestowed by the NCAA:

Athletic venues[edit]

Athletic directors[edit]

  • Matty Bell – 1947–1964
  • Hayden Fry – 1964–1972
  • Dave Smith – 1972–1974
  • N.R. "Dick" Davis 1974–1978
  • Russ Potts – 1978–1981
  • Bob Hitch – 1981 – Dec. 1986
  • Dudley Parker – Dec. 1986 – Oct. 1987
  • Doug Single – Oct. 1987 – April 1990
  • Forrest Gregg – April 1990 – June 1994
  • Bill Lively – July 1994 – Dec. 1994
  • Jim Copeland – Jan. 1995 – Feb. 2006
  • Brian O'Boyle – Feb. – March 2006
  • Steve Orsini – June 2006 – May 2012
  • Rick Hart – July 2012 – present

Notable athletes[edit]

  • Bryson DeChambeau - U.S. Open Winner; PGA Tour Pro
  • Doak Walker — Heisman winner; Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee
  • Kyle Rote - Running back and receiver for eleven years in the National Football League (NFL) for the New York Giants, All-American running back at SMU, and was the first overall selection of the 1951 NFL Draft.
  • Raymond Berry - Former professional American football player and coach in the National Football League (NFL), led the NFL in receptions and receiving yards three times and in receiving touchdowns twice, and was invited to six Pro Bowls. As head coach of the New England Patriots, Berry took them to Super Bowl in the 1985 season.
  • Eric Dickerson — All-American; Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee
  • Haskell "Hack" Ross — trainer, Thoroughbred racing
  • Forrest Gregg — two-time Super Bowl winner; Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee; Vince Lombardi called him "the finest player I ever coached."
  • Spike Davis — professional rugby player with the Ohio Aviators of PRO Rugby
  • Jim Duggan — professional wrestler best known as "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan; WWE Hall of Fame Inductee 2011; inaugural WWE (WWF) Royal Rumble winner (1988)
  • Emmanuel Sanders – Super Bowl Winner
  • Thomas Morstead – Super Bowl Winner
  • Aldrick Robinson – Super Bowl Winner
  • Ja'Gared Davis - 106th Grey Cup Winner
  • Payne Stewart - Professional Golfer; PGA Championship Winner; two-time U.S. Open Winner
  • Ryan Berube - Olympic Gold medal anchoring the U.S. men's team in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay and All-American Swimmer
  • Jerry Heidenreich - Olympic champion, former world record-holder, and All-American Swimmer
  • Lars Frölander - Olympic Gold Medal (Sweden) and All-American Swimmer
  • Steve Lundquist - Olympic gold medalist, former world record-holder, and All-American Swimmer
  • Ricardo Prado - Olympic, All-American and former World Record holding medley Swimmer from Brazil
  • Scott Donie - All-American Diver. He earned the silver medal in the 1992 Summer Olympics on the 10 m platform
  • Martina Moravcová - Two-time Olympic silver medalist from Slovakia and All-American Swimmer
  • Michael Carter - An American former collegiate and professional football player and track and field athlete. He was a three-time Pro Bowl and four-time All-Pro selection, and an Olympic athlete, winning a silver medal in the shot put in the 1984 Summer Olympics.

The SMU football program has also produced other professional football standouts, such as Don Meredith, Kyle Rote, Jerry Ball, Craig James and more recently Cole Beasley, Sterling Moore, Chris Banjo, Kenneth Acker and Taylor Thompson.


  1. ^ SMU Licensing Guide (PDF). August 1, 2018. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
  2. ^ – History – College Football National Champions Archived February 23, 2002, at the Library of Congress Web Archives
  3. ^ "Frank G. Dickinson Papers, 1932–67 | University of Illinois Archives". December 8, 1992. Retrieved August 5, 2015.
  4. ^ Vickrey, Sawley (July 25, 2012). "Rodney Erickson: Penn State escaped four-year death penalty". Larry Brown Sports. Retrieved August 5, 2015.
  5. ^ Frank, Peter. "'88 football season canceled by SMU." New York Times, April 11, 1987.
  6. ^ "First Varsity Four Notches SMU's First Gold Medal at American Championship". SMU Athletics. May 12, 2018. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
  7. ^ "UCF Wins Fifth-Straight American Athletic Conference Women's Rowing Championship. At the 2019 American Athletic Conference SMU medaled in every racing category from the V8 to the 3V8. The team finished second with 176 points, just 4 points off from first place". American Athletic Conference. May 17, 2019. Retrieved November 25, 2019. It was SMU that won the V8, knocking off the Knights for the first time in five years.
  8. ^ "United Equestrian Conference". Retrieved February 25, 2020.
  9. ^ "EQ Teams". ECAC. Retrieved February 29, 2020.
  10. ^ "Facilities". SMU Athletics. Retrieved February 29, 2020.
  11. ^ "When There Were No More Games to Play". The Stable. May 2015. Archived from the original on July 4, 2016. Retrieved July 4, 2016.
  12. ^ Sherrington, Kevin (June 4, 2016). "Sherrington: SMU's long-gone baseball team rarely got respect, least of all from its own school". SportsDay. The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved September 11, 2018. And officials pulled the plug on it after the 1980 season, just the same, citing financial concerns.
  13. ^ Capstick, Brian (February 9, 2006). "The NightCap asks, 'Why no baseball at SMU?'". SMU Daily Campus. Retrieved September 11, 2018. The SMU Athletic Department told me that the baseball program was shut down for financial reasons.
  14. ^ "A Look Back at the Southwest Conference". Texas Almanac. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved April 18, 2012.
  15. ^

External links[edit]