Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and Lady Toppers

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Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and Lady Toppers
University Western Kentucky University
Conference Conference USA
Athletic director Todd Stewart
Location Bowling Green, Kentucky
Varsity teams 17
Football stadium Houchens Industries -
L. T. Smith Stadium
Basketball arena E. A. Diddle Arena
Baseball stadium Nick Denes Field
Softball stadium WKU Softball Complex
Mascot Big Red
Nickname Hilltoppers and Lady Toppers
Fight song Stand Up and Cheer
Colors Red and White[1]
Website www.wkusports.com

The Western Kentucky 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 Conference USA.

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.[2] But in March 2012, Bjork accepted the job as athletic director at Ole Miss.[3] 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.[4]

On April 1, 2013, it was announced Western Kentucky would depart the Sun Belt Conference for Conference USA, effective July 1, 2014.[5]

Sports sponsored[edit]

Men's sports Women's sports
Baseball Basketball
Basketball Cross country
Cross country Golf
Football Soccer
Golf Softball
Swimming and diving Swimming and diving
Track and field Tennis
Track and field
† – Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor
‡ – program suspended for at least five years
Conference USA logo in WKU's colors

A member of Conference USA, Western Kentucky sponsors teams in seven men's and nine women's NCAA sanctioned sports. On April 14, 2015, WKU announced that it would suspend its men's and women's swimming and diving teams for at least 5 years, effective immediately. This followed a police investigation into claims of assault and hazing by a former men's team member which in turn found multiple violations of university policies on harassment and sexual misconduct.[6]


The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers basketball program is nationally recognized, and one of the winningest programs in NCAA history. Rick Stansbury is the current head coach of the Hilltoppers. The program has over 1,600 victories, forty 20-win seasons, 38 Postseason Tournament Appearances and 28 All-Americans.

During the 1980s, Coach Paul Sanderford built Western Kentucky Lady Toppers basketball into a national power, appearing in 3 NCAA Final Fours. In recent years, the Lady Toppers and Hilltoppers have had a continued record of success; under current head coach Michelle Clark-Heard, the Lady Toppers won the Conference USA title in 2015, advancing to the NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championship tournament in 2014 and 2015, and receiving invitations to the Women's National Invitation Tournament in 2013 and 2016.


Western Kentucky Hilltoppers football is currently a member of Conference USA. Previously, the school 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.[7] In 2008, the Hilltoppers were among the Division I-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 2015, the Hilltoppers clinched the Conference USA championship, won the Miami Beach Bowl and finished ranked 24th in the final Associated Press college football poll.

The current head coach is Mike Sanford Jr., who was came from Notre Dame where he was the offensive coordinator. He was named head coach following Jeff Brohm's departure to Purdue after back to back Conference USA Title's in 2015 & 2016.


WKU baseball competes at Nick Denes Field. The team won the Sun Belt Conference championship in 2009, their first Sun Belt title.

First Year: 1910 All-Time Record:1736-1448-17 (.545) Conference Championships: 3 (1952, 80, 2009) Tournament Championships: 2 (2004, 08) NCAA Tournaments:4 (1980, 2004, 08, 09) Postseason Record:6-8 (.429) Best Record (1980): 47-13-1 (.779) Best in NCAA’s (2009):.3-2 (.600) Players Drafted:54 (last, Danny Hudzina)

Men's golf[edit]

The men's golf team has won 10 conference championships:[8]



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[edit]

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.

Action Meaning
Tossed in the air Pure climactic 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


  1. ^ WKU Communication & Branding Manual (PDF). April 10, 2017. Retrieved June 3, 2017. 
  2. ^ Jon Gold, Ross Bjork named Western Kentucky University A.D., Los Angeles Daily News, March 12, 2010
  3. ^ WKU Herald, [Walking Away: Bjork introduced as Ole Miss AD], "WKU Herald," March 22, 2012
  4. ^ WKU Herald, [Stewart named AD, will be announced Thursday], "WKU Herald," May 9, 2012
  5. ^ ESPN [1], "ESPN," March 30, 2013
  6. ^ "WKU Suspends Swimming and Diving Program for 5 Years". WKU Athletics. April 14, 2015. Retrieved April 15, 2015. 
  7. ^ http://www.college-sports-journal.com/index.php/csj-classic-archives/archives/160-western-kentucky-tops-mcneese-state-for-ncaa-championship
  8. ^ "2012–13 WKU Olympic Sports Record Book" (PDF). Retrieved June 25, 2013. 

External links[edit]