When the calendar flipped from 2018 to 2019, a repeat of the Southland Conference Commissioners Cup looked like a long shot for the Bearkat athletic program.
The Kats sat in seventh place overall, trailing Central Arkansas by 19 points. With 12 remaining sports the Kats participate in, they were going to have to make a strong showing in the spring. The Bearkats did exactly that. Sam Houston claimed seven championships in 2019, including five men’s titles to win the SLC Commissioner’s Cup for the second straight year.
With the five men’s championships this year, the Bearkats will stake claim to the Men’s All-Sports Trophy as well.
“What we did this spring as a department was truly incredible,” said Director of Athletics Bobby Williams, who will receive both cups at a ceremony in Frisco tonight. “It took every one of our sports down the stretch to go out and finish as high as they could. I couldn’t be prouder of the effort of all of our athletes this year.”
The Kats finished with 159.5 points, 11 more than second-place SFA. The 11-point victory is the largest for Sam Houston of its Southland Conference record seven Commissioner’s Cups.
On the men’s side, the Kats won the Southland Championship in five of the six sports they compete in. It started with indoor track and was followed by basketball, golf, outdoor track and finally baseball. The only two Southland men’s trophies that do not have Sam Houston on it, is tennis, which the Kats don’t field a team, and football.
For the women, the golf team and softball team both snapped long championships droughts to claim titles this spring. For golf, it was their first title since 2007 and softball hoisted the championship trophy for the first time since 1993. Top-four finishes by both volleyball and tennis, as well as a fifth-place finish by basketball also contributed to the cause.
The Bearkats won their first league cup in 2005, sharing the honor with Texas State. They then won the title in 2006 and 2007 to become the first school to win three straight. The Bearkats then claimed back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014 and then won their sixth last season to move past SFA for most in Southland Conference history.
“I know I always talk about this, but I made this my goal when I took over as athletic director,” Williams said about winning the cup. “People thought it was a pipe dream. At the time, we needed something to change in this department, so I set that as the goal. It took longer than I wanted, but I think once we won that first one, I really started to see a change in this department.
“Now, that is the bar. Being the best overall program in the Southland Conference. All you can do is measure yourself against your peers, and seven times in the last 14 years, we have come out on top,” he said.
The Men’s and Women’s All-Sports trophies are awarded annually for men’s and women’s competition based on a 13-point system for all conference sports, with the Commissioner’s Cup being awarded to the program with the most combined all-sports points.
Points are awarded from 13 to 1 according to place of finish in final conference standings in sports with regular seasons, or placement in conference championships for sports without regular seasons. If teams are tied in standings or placement, points for the given spots are distributed evenly. Points are awarded regardless of the number of teams that sponsor a given sport.