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The Bearkats represent Sam Houston State Universitymarker in intercollegiate athletics.

Sam Houston State's colors are orange and white and their nickname is the Bearkats. Sam Houston State sports teams participate in NCAA Division I (Championship Subdivision for football) in the Southland Conference. SHSU's primary rival is Stephen F.marker Austin State Universitymarker and tensions between the two schools can run high before major sporting events that pit one against the other.

The Bearkats have had recent success with the Men's and Women's Track & Field teams; capturing both the Men's and Women's Southland Conference Outdoor Team Championships in 2005 and 2006. The Women's Team added the school's first Indoor Track & Field Team Championship in 2007. 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 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. In the same 3 year stretch, 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. 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.


Sam Houston State Director of Athletics Bobby Williams is currently in the process of searching for a new head coach to lead the football program.

The football team was coached by Todd Whitten, who played quarterback at rival institution Stephen F.marker Austin State Universitymarker. Whitten's record at Sam was 25-28 overall. Whitten was released from his coaching duties on Nov. 23, 2009.

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 45-32-2, including 6 of the last 7.

Whitten was preceded by Ron Randleman, who served as head coach at Sam Houston from 1982 to 2004. Randleman took over in the school's first year competing in NCAA Division II and four years later, the Bearkats moved up to Division I. He wasted no time in competing in Division I, leading the team to the playoffs in the school's first season in the NCAA's highest division in 1986. The next season, the Bearkats joined the Southland Conference. In the school's Division I history, the Bearkats have claimed 3 Southland Conference titles (1991, 2001, 2004) and 4 playoff appearances (1986, 1991, 2001, 2004). They have posted an overall Division I playoff record of 3-4. Their most successful playoff run came in the final season of Randleman's coaching career in 2004 when the team made an appearance in the semifinals of the Division I playoffs. This was made possible by a remarkable 4th quarter comeback in the 2nd round at Eastern Washington when the Bearkats rallied from 20 points down and scoring the tying TD pass from Dustin Long to Jason Mathenia as time expired, winning the game on the PAT. This is still remembered as one of the greatest comebacks in Division I playoff football history. The Bearkats also shared the NAIA national title with Concordia (MN) in 1964, when they finished the national championship game in a 7-7 tie.

In recent history, the football team has had considerable success with transfer quarterbacks transferring from Football Bowl Subdivision Schools (formerly I-A). In 1999, Chris Chaloupka transferred from Oklahoma State Universitymarker. In 2001, Josh McCown transferred from Southern Methodist Universitymarker. In 2004, Dustin Long transferred from Texas A&M Universitymarker. In 2008 the team was led by senior QB transfer from the University of Oklahomamarker, Rhett Bomar. Bomar entered the 2009 NFL draft and was selected in the 5th round (151 overall) by the New York Giants.


The men's 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). The program has been the most consistent in the conference over the past decade under the direction of head coach Bob Marlin, winning regular season titles in 2000 and 2003 with an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2003 (the first in school history). 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. 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.

Track & Field / Cross Country

The Men's and Women's Track & Field / Cross Country Program have captured 7 Southland Conference Team Championships since 2005. The Men won back-to-back team championships at the 2005 and 2006 Southland Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The Women have won five championships during this time span. Winning the Outdoor Track & Field Championships in 2005, 2006, and 2008 and winning the 2007 and 2008 Southland Conference Indoor Track & Field Championship. The current Men's and Women's Head Coach is David Self who took over the position in July 2009 following the resignation of former Head Coach, Curtis Collier, who has taken a position as the Athletic Department Compliance Coordinator. Self is the direct event coach of the SHSU sprinters and hurdlers. Jesse Parker serves as an Associate Coach and works with the endurance athletes. Parker also serves as the Track & Field / Captain of Cross Country Recruiting Coordinator.

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