When Bobby Williams became the Bearkats' director of athletics on April 29, 1998, he set two goals for the program: 1) To define the term "Student-Athlete," and 2) Win the Southland Conference Commissioner's Cup, symbolic of the league's all-sports championship for both men's and women's sports combined.
Sam Houston has won the Commissioner's Cup not once but four times, most recently in 2013. No other Southland university has won the Cup three years in a row, as Sam Houston did from 2005-2007. Williams, who had served Sam Houston as an athletic administrator and a coach since 1982, was interim director of athletics for the 1997-98 school year. He was assistant director of athletics for seven years and an assistant football coach for nine years.
In May, 2005, Williams received the General Robert R. Neyland Outstanding Athletic Director Award at the All-American Football Foundation's 70th annual Banquet of Champions. In June, 2008, he was presented the AstroTurf Athletics Director of the Year "Football Championship Subdivision West Region" award. Williams now serves as a member of the NCAA Leadership Council.
During his 16 years as athletic director, Sam Houston has achieved unprecedented successes at the NCAA Division I level, including:
• Four Southland Commissioner's Cups (2005, 2006, 2007, 2013), two Southland Men's All-Sports Trophies (2000 and 2007), and one Southland Women's All-Sports Trophy (2013)
• Highest NCAA Division I football championship subdivision final national ranking (No. 1 in 2011)
• Highest NCAA Division I men's basketball RPI final ranking (2003)
• First votes in Associated Press NCAA Division I men's basketball national poll (2008)
• Four NCAA Division I football playoff appearances, reaching quarterfinals in 2001, semifinals in 2004 and championship games in 2011 and 2012
• NCAA Division I national playoff berths in men's basketball (2003 and 2010), softball (2007), baseball (2007, 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2013) and women's bowling (2011 and 2012)
• 20 Southland Conference team championships including football (2001, 2004, 2011, 2012) men's basketball (2000, 2003, 2010), women's basketball (2012), baseball (2012, 2013), women's golf (2004, 2007), men's outdoor track and field (2005, 2006), women's outdoor track and field (2005, 2006, 2008), women's indoor track and field (2007 and 2008) and volleyball (2012)
• Southland post-season tournament titles in men's basketball (2003 and 2010), baseball (2007, 2008 and 2009) and softball (2007)
• Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI) appearance (2012) and Women's National Invitational Tournament (NIT) appearance (2013)
• Six ESPN football national telecasts, two men's basketball CBS national telecasts, four ESPN2 national basketball telecasts and numerous Fox Sports Southwest and Southland TV regional games
• Highest athletic grade point average in department history (2.98 GPA)
• Highest Southland finishes in baseball, men's basketball, women's basketball, men's and women's track and field, men's and women's cross country, softball and tennis
• Hosted successful Southland Conference championship events in women's tennis, women's golf, cross country, softball, baseball and outdoor track and field as well as the finals of the Southland Conference men's basketball tournament
• Guided the department through two successful NCAA peer review team evaluations (1998 and 2008)
• Added women's soccer and bowling as the university's 16th and 17th varsity sports
Williams has overseen more than 9 million dollars of facility improvements including the new Ron Randleman Strength and Fitness Center, Don Sanders Stadium (baseball), Bearkat Softball Stadium and the SHSU golf practice facility at Raven's Nest Golf Course. With new marketing strategies, Williams and his staff have increased both campus and community attendance at all Bearkat intercollegiate athletics events and increased revenue generated from outside university sources from $600,000 to $2.4 million.
Under his direction, the Bearkat Learning Enhancement Center, located in the Bowers Stadium Field House, opened in the fall of 1997. The facility allows Bearkat student-athletes access both to modern computers and to assistance from academic tutors. During his seven years as assistant athletic director, Williams' duties included NCAA compliance, game management for home athletic contests, scheduling, facilities, tickets, marketing and concessions. As an assistant football coach, he tutored five cornerbacks who played in the National Football League.
"Becoming a director of athletics was a lifetime goal. I have always been a goal oriented person," said Williams. "As a secondary coach, we set and met important goals on teams that ranked among the nation's defensive leaders. As an administrator, we set goals such as raising our department grade point averages, which we accomplished.
"As director of athletics, we have set goals. We have strived to bring this department to the forefront in computer technology, to improve our athletes' academic standing and retention rates and to increase our revenue through fund raising and monies generated from bigger crowds at games.
"Three times in recent years, we achieved our most important goal -- winning the Southland Commissioner's Cup All-Sports Trophy. Not only does this achievement prove that each of our sports teams is vital to our program, but also it demonstrates the importance and contributions of every student athlete. Our staff's efforts will continue to be directed toward higher goals as we strive to make the Sam Houston experience the best it can be for our students."
Williams was a starter at wide receiver for the Rice Owls. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Rice University in 1981 and his Master of Arts from Rice a year later.
His father, the late Bobby Williams, Sr., was a member of Rice University's 1958 Cotton Bowl team and retired in 2002 after working as an NFL scout for the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins. His mother, Carolyn, recently retired from the Dow Chemical Company.
His wife, Janet, received her Bachelor's degree and her Master's degree from Sam Houston as have her father General Thomas Stone (distinguished alumni 1999 and football letterman 1955-56), mother Claudette, brother Keith (football letterman 1978-79) and sister Kelly (Master's degree). Janet is a professor in the SHSU College of Education. The pair have two daughters, Audrey Kathryn (SHSU graduate, 2012) and Alexandra Karolyn (SHSU sophomore).