Emporia State Hornets
UniversityEmporia State University
ConferenceThe MIAA
NCAADivision II
Athletic directorDavid Spafford
LocationEmporia, Kansas
Varsity teams16
Football stadiumFrancis G. Welch Stadium
Basketball arenaWilliam L. White Auditorium
Baseball stadiumTrusler Sports Complex
Softball stadiumTrusler Sports Complex
MascotCorky the Hornet
Fight song"Fight On Emporia!"
ColorsBlack and gold[1]

The Emporia State Hornets are the athletic teams that represent Emporia State University (ESU). The women's basketball and softball teams use the name Lady Hornets. The university's athletic program fields 15 varsity teams in 11 sports all of whom have combined to win 50 conference championships as well as three national championships (1 NAIA, 1 AIAW and 1 NCAA).[2] Corky the Hornet serves as the mascot representing the teams, and the school colors are black and gold. Emporia State participates in the NCAA Division II and has been a member of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) since 1991.[3]

The university's athletic director is David Spafford, who began his tenure on July 17, 2022.[4] The Hornet football team has been coached by Garin Higgins since 2007. Toby Wynn was named head coach of the Lady Hornets basketball program in 2018.[5] The women's basketball program is the school's only NCAA championship, which the team won during the 2010 tournament. The men's basketball team is currently coached by Craig Doty, a three-time championship coach.[6]

History and overview

Emporia State Athletic Directors
Tenure Athletic Director
1920–1928 Homer Woodson Hargiss
1928–1962 Fran Welch
1962–1970 Joe Pease
1970–1971 Norris Patterson
1971–1979 Bill Tidwell
1979–1999 Bill Quayle
1999–2022 Kent Weiser
2022–present David Spafford

In 1923, the teams were known as the "Yaps", but it was not a popular name. Men's basketball coach Vic Trusler suggested the name "Yellow Jackets". This was later changed to "Hornets".[7]


Since 2008, Emporia State has had four top four finishes in the nation. The Lady Hornets basketball team won the 2010 NCAA Division II National Championship game against Fort Collins, Colorado. In 2009, the baseball team were national runners up, as were the Lady Hornet softball team. In 2011, the men's track & field team won took 4th place in the NCAA Div. II National Track Championships.[8]

The 2003–04 athletic season was a record season for ESU. ESU became the first school to have their football, men's basketball, women's basketball, baseball and softball teams all advance to NCAA play in the same school year.[9] ESU has averaged over 100,000 fans a year at home events over the last eight years.[9]

MIAA logo in ESU's colors

Since 2002, Emporia State has placed in the top 50 out of over 300 Division II schools nationally in the Learfield Sports Director's Cup for 12 straight years with a high of 4th in 2013–14.[10]

Conference history

Emporia State has been a member of six conferences and two stints as an independent, since its athletics beginnings in 1893.[11]

Emporia State University began its athletic life as a member of the Kansas Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC) from 1893 to 1928.[12] Emporia State, along with other schools from the conference, withdrew from the KIAC and formed the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (CIAC) in 1928, where it stayed as a member for thirty-nine years.[13] After competing the CIAC for almost four decades, Emporia State left the CIAC and joined the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) in 1967.[14] In 1972, the RMAC split into two conferences, one keeping the current name and the other to be called Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC), and four years later formed the Central States Intercollegiate Conference (CSIC).[15] In 1989, the CSIC disbanded and Emporia State became an Independent.[16] In 1991, Emporia State became an NCAA Division II member and joined the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA), where it remains a member today.[17]

Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics AssociationNAIA independent schoolsCentral States Intercollegiate ConferenceGreat Plains Athletic Conference (1972–1976)Rocky Mountain Athletic ConferenceCentral Intercollegiate ConferenceKansas Collegiate Athletic Conference

Varsity teams

Emporia State competes in 16 intercollegiate varsity sports, the newest being disc golf for both men and women.

Men's sports Women's sports
Baseball Basketball
Basketball Cross country
Cross country Disc golf
Disc golf Soccer
Football Softball
Tennis Tennis
Track and field Track and field
† – Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor


Main article: Emporia State Hornets baseball

The Hornets baseball team played its first game in 1978.[18] The team has five conference championships, and two NCAA Division II World Series appearance with a 2009 runner-up.[citation needed] The team had also made five appearances in the NAIA World Series, winning the 1978 World Series.[18] From 2004 to 2018, the team was coached by former player, Bob Fornelli, who finished 599–266 (.692) at Emporia State.[19]

Men's basketball

Main article: Emporia State Hornets basketball

The Hornets basketball team is currently coached by Craig Doty, a three-time national championship coach.[20] The program was founded in 1901, thirty-eight years after the university was founded.[21] For the last 115 years, the program has compiled a record of 1,380–1,126 (.551). Some notable coaches are Fred Honhart, George Crispin, Homer Woodson Hargiss, and A.A. Schabinger.

Women's basketball

2010 National Championship banner hanging in White Auditorium

Main article: Emporia State Lady Hornets basketball

Of its varsity sports, Emporia States's women's basketball team has been the only one to claim a national title. The Lady Hornets, who was led by head coach Brandon Schneider, won the 2010 NCAA Division II Women's Basketball Championship, defeating the Fort Lewis College (Colorado) Skyhawks.[22]

In 1998, Emporia State's women's basketball team played in the NCAA Women's Division II Basketball Championship. The head coach for that team was Cindy Stein, who left to coach at the University of Missouri.[23]

Cross country and track & field

The men's and women's cross country teams are currently coached by Eric Wellman.[24] With the men's program starting in 1923 and the women's program in 1976, the women's team has won one MIAA conference championship, which was in 1994. The cross country teams run their home meets at Jones Park, in Northeast Emporia.[25]

The men's and women's track and field teams are currently coached by Steven Blocker.[26] Since joining the MIAA in 1991, the women's team has won five MIAA outdoor championships and two indoor championships while the men's team has won two MIAA conference outdoor championships.[25] The track teams host meets on the Zola Witten Track at Francis G. Welch Stadium.[27]


Main article: Emporia State Hornets football

Emporia State's "Hornets" logo used until 2014

The Hornets football team, is currently coached by former Hornet quarterback Garin Higgins, who played from 1987–1990.[28][29] Since joining the MIAA in 1991, the Hornets have gone 119–118 in conference play.[30] The Hornets have also participated in five post-season bowls in which three of those were wins.[31] Past football coaches include Homer Woodson Hargiss, Jerry Kill, and Harold Elliott.


Starting in 2001, the women's soccer program is the newest intercollegiate sport at Emporia State.[32] The team is currently coached by Bryan Sailer, who is in his fifth season.[33] As the fifth coach since 2001, Sailer has a record of 23–36–15 (.412). The soccer games are either played on the ESU soccer pitch or at Emporia High School.


The Lady Hornets softball team played its first game by 1971,[34] seven years before the baseball team.[35] The team is currently coached by April Huddleston, who took over the program on October 19, 2015.[36][37] The softball team appeared in three Women's College World Series in 1971, 1972 and 1979[34] and also won the first AIAW Division II national championship in 1980. Emporia State also played for the national championship in 2006 and 2008.[35]


The men's and women's tennis teams competed on the George Milton Tennis Courts, named after the longtime tennis coach for Emporia State, having served from 1966–99, George Milton until 2021.[38] In October 2021, the Greg Kossover Family Complex opened on campus.[39] With the men's program starting in 1966 and the women's program 10 years later, the tennis teams have been successful. Since joining the MIAA, the women's team has won two conference championships in 2005 and 2007, and have participated in the NCAA tournament four years, advancing to the Sweet 16 in 2007.[40] The men's team has advanced to the NCAA tournament in 2007 and 2008.


Since 1973, the Hornets volleyball team has combined a total record of 973–601.[41] Since joining the MIAA in 1991, the Hornets have won one conference championship in 2008, and have advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. The Hornets are coached by Ken Murczeku, who was hired in January 2023.[42]



The Silent Joe Bell Tower

Francis G. Welch Stadium serves as home to the Hornets football team.[43] The stadium, who is named for long-time Emporia State coach and athletic director Fran Welch, opened in 1947 and since then has gone under a few renovations. Improvements done in 1994 include installation of a new scoreboard and fence as well as remodelling of entrance areas, concessions, and washrooms.[43] In 1997, the Hutchinson Family Pavilion was added. It hosts multiple levels of enclosed sky-boxes, theatre-style seating, and a media area.[43] The current seating capacity of the stadium is 10,000. Zola Witten Track is also in the facility, used by the track teams.

Since 1940, home basketball games have been played at William L. White Auditorium, a 5,000-seat arena which is named after William Lindsay White, son of William Allen White.[44] In addition to serving as home to the men's and women's basketball teams, the auditorium has been used by the Hornets volleyball team since the program started in 1973.[45] In 2008, a new scoreboard and video screen were installed, and the arena floor was refinished and a refreshed logo added. Interior painting in a new color scheme was completed throughout the building.[44]

Trusler Sports Complex is home to the baseball and softball teams.[46] The baseball team competes on Glennen Field, named after Dr. Robert E. Glennen, thirteenth president of Emporia State University. In 2009, artificial turf was installed in the formerly dirt infield. The Lady Hornets compete on Turnbull Field, which is named in honor of J. Michael Turnbull, president and trustee of the Trusler Foundation.[46]

The Hornet tennis teams compete in the Kossover Family Tennis Complex,[47] which opens in 2021 and replaced the outdoor Milton Tennis Courts. George Milton was the longtime tennis coach for Emporia State, having served from 1966 to 1999.[38]

Facility name Teams Capacity Opened
Trusler Sports Complex Baseball, softball 500/450 1992
William L. White Auditorium Basketball, volleyball 5,000 1941
Francis G. Welch Stadium Football, track 7,000 1937
Hornet Pitch Soccer 500 2009
Kossover Family Tennis Complex Tennis 100 1966


School colors

Black Gold

Emporia State's official school colors are black and gold.[48] They have been the colors since the school was founded in 1863, and until recently, the gold was Old gold.[49]


Corky the Hornet at an Emporia State football game.

Main article: Corky the Hornet

In 1933, the Teachers College had a student contest where students and staff could design a mascot for the college. Sophomore Paul Edwards, who graduated in 1937, designed Corky. Although hundreds of drawings were submitted, Edwards' Corky, a "human-like" hornet was selected. Corky was published in The Bulletin, the student newspaper for Emporia State University.[7]


Fight On, Emporia! is the official fight song for Emporia State University.[50] The lyrics for the fight song were written by Alfred Thompson (BME '34), student at Kansas State Teachers College.[50] Tom Isern wrote the lyrics for ESU's alma mater and the music was composed by Joseph Ott.[51][52]

Notable alumni

Main article: List of Emporia State University people

Homer Woodson Hargiss


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