Bearkat football head coach Willie Fritz was recognized with a resolution in both the State of Texas Senate and House congratulating his selection as the 2012 Liberty Mutual NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision "Coach of the Year."

The presentation of the resolution was part of the biannual celebration of Sam Houston's March 5 birthday by the Sam Houston State University Alumni that featured a birthday celebration for the general at an evening reception at the Bob Bullock Museum.

 State Representative District 18 John Otto with SHSU
President Dr. Dana Gibson, Bearkat athletic director
Bobby Williams and head coach Willie Fritz
 "At the celebration, the legislators who come aren't being bombarded with information and university affairs, they are just celebrating Sam Houston's birthday," director of alumni relations Charlie Vienne said. "But when they go back to their office, or when they are voting on legislation about educational funding and issues like that, we hope that Sam Houston State will come to their mind. We are creating a good partnership and getting a 'seat at the table' so to speak at the capital on having support for the goals SHSU is trying to accomplish."

Coach Fritz and the Bearkat football team have helped bring national recognition to Sam Houston State by producing back-to-back trips to the NCAA Division I Championship game in Frisco, Texas. Rolling up a combined 25-4 record and winning two Southland titles, Sam Houston football games have been televised nationally on ESPN's family of networks nine times.

As part of the celebration, university president Dr. Dana Gibson, director of athletics Bobby Williams and Fritz made a presentation of an autographed football helmet to Texas State Representative John Otto of District 18.

"We are trying to build recognition in Austin about the University," Vienne said. "Other universities have similar events, and we decided to create a Sam Houston Day in Austin. Our hope is that the people whose support would be valuable to the university will come away from the day's events more knowledgeable and familiar with the great school that SHSU is."

The board members- a group of alumni who meet together four times each year to discuss alumni affairs and how to generate more support for the university-said that this event is a big opportunity to do something for the university that has done so much for them.

Sam Houston birthday resolution in Austin March 5
"What we get to do is give back to the university by raising awareness," alumni board member Roland Black said. "We get to do that by talking to people who can actually give support. Some of the legislators that we talked to and presented a gift to, we know and are friends with. We are making contacts and connections at this event. By talking to them, they are hearing what we are doing at SHSU firsthand, and we can encourage them to call us if they have any questions. We are ambassadors for the university at this event. And that's neat."

Sam Houston has made a total of 17 television appearances on various national and regional networks during their two championship seasons. In addition, the Bearkats have played before packed houses at Baylor from the Big 12 Conference and Texas A&M of the Southeastern Conference.