The success of Sam Houston’s football program has gained recognition not only across the country but also internationally outside the United States.

Thursday head coach Ernesto Alfaro del Villar and his football staff from Instituto Politecnico Nacional in Mexico City visited Sam Houston State to study how the Bearkats have built their winning ways.

“This is the longest distance any group of coaches has come to visit our practices,” Bearkat head coach Willie Fritz said. “Our staff had a great time interacting with them. It’s exciting to see that football is taking off in Mexico and in other countries.”

The Instituto Politecnico Nacional coaches were impressed with the Sam Houston football program that has won back-to-back Southland Conference championships, earned successive NCAA Division I FCS No. 2 final national rankings and advanced to the NCAA Division I championship game two years in a row.

“You really have a great program here,” Coach del Villar said. “We’ve learned a lot. The football staff here has been very gracious and helpful.”

The visiting football staff not only watched the Bearkats football practice but also had the opportunity to visit with the assistant coaches.

“There are more than 45 teams playing college football now and the sport continues to grow,” Coach del Villar said.

Sam Houston State completes its 2013 spring football practice Thursday night with the annual Orange-White scrimmage to be held at 7 p.m. at Joseph Pritchett Field.