Sam Houston State Bearkats

The Sam Houston State Bearkats represent Sam Houston State University in intercollegiate athletics. Sam Houston State's colors are orange and white and their sports teams' nickname 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.

Sam Houston State Bearkats
UniversitySam Houston State University
ConferenceSouthland Conference
NCAADivision I
Athletic directorBobby Williams
LocationHuntsville, Texas
Varsity teams17
Football stadiumBowers Stadium
Basketball arenaJohnson Coliseum
Baseball stadiumDon Sanders Stadium
Softball stadiumBearkat Softball Complex
Soccer stadiumPritchett Field
Other arenasMcAdams Tennis Center
York Track and Field Complex
MascotSammy Bearkat
Fight songBearkat Fight Song
ColorsWhite and Orange[1]

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[2] 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.[3] 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.

Sports sponsored

Men's sports Women's sports
Cross countryCross country
Track and fieldSoftball
Track and field
† – Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor


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.[4]

Men's basketball

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.[5] 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.

Women's basketball

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.[6] 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.[6] 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,[7] where the team lost to Tulane in the opening round, 57-65.[8] The Bearkats lone Women's Basketball conference championship came in 2013.[9] The girls' 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).


K.C. Keeler is currently the head coach of the Bearkats. Coach Keeler had previously coached Delaware to three FCS Championship games, winning one in 2003.

The Bearkats are one of the most successful FCS programs in the nation within the last three years, reaching the NCAA Division I FCS Championship game in back-to-back years in 2011 and 2012. The Kats are also one of three programs in the FCS to make the NCAA Playoffs in three consecutive years, and owned the nation's longest home winning streak at 23 during that span.

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 55-35-2, including 15 of the last 18.

The Bearkats shared the NAIA national title with Concordia (MN) in 1964, when they finished the national championship game in a 7-7 tie.

Previous coaching history

Willie Fritz was the head football coach (2010-2013) at Sam Houston State University and was the 2011 American Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year[10] and 2012 AFCA Regional Coach of the Year.[11]

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.[12] The 2011 Bearkats were NCAA Division I National Championship Finalists, eventually losing to the North Dakota State Bison in the FCS National Championship game.[13] They would return to the title game the following season, only to lose to the North Dakota State Bison again.[14]


  1. The SHSU Brand (PDF). Retrieved April 2, 2016.
  2. "Sam Houston State Claims Third Straight Commissioners Cup". Southland Conference. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  4. "Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum". Sam Houston State Athletics. Retrieved April 27, 2013.
  5. "Sam Houston State Men's Basketball Notes" (PDF). Sam Houston State Athletics. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  6. SHSU Women's Basketball Record Book: Annual Team Record. Sam Houston State Athletics. p. 2.
  7. "Tulane First Hurdle Thursday in WNIT". March 20, 2013. Retrieved June 6, 2013.
  8. "Sam Houston State Falls to Tulane in WNIT First Round". March 21, 2013. Archived from the original on July 12, 2013. Retrieved June 6, 2013.
  9. "SHSU women win Southland Championship". March 8, 2013. Retrieved June 6, 2013.
  10. "SHSU's Willie Fritz Named AFCA Coach of the Year". Archived from the original on March 5, 2014. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  11. "Willie Fritz earns AFCA Regional Coach of the Year". Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  12. "SHSU receives No. 1 seed in FCS playoffs". Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  13. "FCS National Championship Game Notes: North Dakota State 17 Sam Houston State 6". Archived from the original on July 6, 2012. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  14. "FCS NatSam Houston State feels the blow again". Retrieved April 12, 2013.
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