Sam Houston State is “Southland Strongest” again in 2014.
For the second consecutive year and the fifth time in the last 10 seasons, the Bearkats have won the Southland Conference Commissioner’s Cup.
The trophy is presented annually to the top overall athletics program in the Southland. In its 17-year history, no other current or former member of the league has won the Cup five times.
The Kats took the Cup after one of the athletic program’s most successful seasons ever.
SHSU won team championships in baseball, men’s golf and both women’s indoor and outdoor track and field. Both the baseball and men’s golf team advanced to NCAA regional competition.
In addition, men’s indoor track & field posted a runner-up finish and five teams (football, softball, men’s basketball, volleyball and men’s outdoor track & field) finished third in the league standings.
Only twice before (in 1985-86 when the Bearkats won football, baseball, men’s basketball and golf titles in the Gulf Star Conference and last year when SHSU took the Southland crowns in football, baseball, volleyball and women's basketball) has Sam Houston earned four league titles in one sports year.
“Winning the Commissioner’s Cup for the fifth time in 10 years is so special because of the fact a Cup victory was the first and only goal I set for this department back in 1997-98,” Sam Houston director of athletics Bobby Williams said. “The main reason behind setting the Cup as a goal was I wanted every sports to be important, not just a few.
“If every sport is important, than every student-athlete, coach, manager, trainer and administrative staff member is important. The pursuit of the Cup is something that has brought this department together as an athletic program.”
The race for the 2013-14 Commissioner’s Cup was exciting. In the end, Sam Houston edged rival Stephen F. Austin by just one point, 176.5 to 175.5.
“It has been rewarding, especially at events this spring, to have fans, student-athletes and coaches all stop me and ask where we werel in the cup standings,” Williams said. “Everyone has bought into it. That’s very important.”
The Bearkats also brought home their third Southland Men’s All-Sports Cup, winning the 2013-14 title with 85.5 points (11.5 ahead of runners-up Southeastern Louisiana and Stephen F. Austin).
“Prior to our emphasis on the Commissioner’s Cup, it wasn’t that big a deal in the Southland, “Williams said. “Now the conference has embraced it and the competition is fierce.”
The Bearkats previously won the Cup in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2013. Sam Houston won the Southland also won the men’s all-sports title in 2000 and 2007 and earned its first women’s all-sports Cup last year.
The SHSU athletic program’s success during the 2013-14 school year continues to reflect the Bearkats’ dominance in the league. Since 2000, Sam Houston teams have won 24 regular season and six tournament championships.
“At the start of each school year, we have a fall picnic that brings all our new freshmen and transfers together with our returning student-athletes from all 17 sports,” Williams said. “The picnic started in 2005 as a celebration of winning our first cup. We followed it up with two more cup wins. The picnics were such a great event that we have continued it as an annual tradition. Now, again this fall, it will be even more fun as we celebrate another Commissioner’s Cup championship together.”