With one of the most successful athletic seasons in Sam Houston State history nearly in the books, the Sam Houston State athletic department has been recognized as the top program in the Southland Conference.  

Director of athletics Bobby Williams accepted the Southland Conference Commissioner’s Cup presented by conference commissioner Tom Burnett at the annual league awards dinner Tuesday May 21, recognizing the Bearkats as the top program in the league for the 2012-13 season.

The presentation marks the fourth time Williams and the Bearkats have received the cup, with the last coming in 2007 when the Kats won three straight years. No current member of the Southland Conference has equaled Sam Houston's cup total.

“This is a huge accomplishment for our department,” Williams said. “The goal every season is to be the top program in the Southland. Across the board, every team had great performances on the field and this truly is a department award.”

The Kats won the baseball regular-season title and shared titles in football, volleyball and women’s basketball and finished in the top three in seven other sports including second place in women’s cross country, men’s and women’s indoor track and field, men’s outdoor track and field and women’s golf.

Sam Houston State scored 126 points to edge last year’s cup winner, Stephen F. Austin, which scored 120 points. Sam Houston is one of two current Southland universities to win at least two Commission’s Cups, along with Stephen F. Austin.

“One of the best things about winning the Commissioner’s Cup is to see how all of our athletes embrace our efforts to win it,” Williams said. “Not only are they striving for a conference title for their team, but also for the department. It has become part of a year-long chase for us, and not just something you look up at the end of the season.”  

The Sam Houston women totaled 72.0 points to win its first women’s all-sports trophy in program history. Since 2003, the Bearkat women have finished in the top four seven times with two second-place finishes.

The Sam Houston men had 54 points to finish second in the men’s all-sports trophy standings behind Stephen F. Austin, which had 57 points. The Bearkats, who won the men’s all-sports trophy in 2000 and 2007, have finished in the top-three five times in the last 10 seasons.

“Winning our first women’s all-sport trophy is also a big accomplishment for our program,” Williams said. “It really was a banner year for our women’s programs, winning titles in volleyball and basketball and a number of other second-place finishes.”

Since winning their first cup in 2005, the Kats have now claimed four cups over the last nine years, the best stretch of any department in the league since they started giving the award in 1998.

"We are indeed fortunate to have outstanding leadership at Sam Houston with our president, Dr. Dana Gibson," Williams said. "The athletic department receives outstanding support from the administration and our university community. This is an honor for every member of our staff from top to bottom."