Houston Cougars
UniversityUniversity of Houston
ConferenceBig 12
NCAADivision I (FBS)
Athletic directorVacant
LocationHouston, Texas
Varsity teams17
Football stadiumTDECU Stadium
Basketball arenaFertitta Center
Baseball stadiumDarryl & Lori Schroeder Park
Softball stadiumCougar Softball Stadium
Fight songCougar Fight Song
ColorsScarlet and white[1]
Big 12 logo in Houston's colors

The Houston Cougars are the athletic teams representing the University of Houston. Informally, the Houston Cougars have also been referred to as the Coogs,[2] UH, or simply Houston. Houston's nickname was suggested by early physical education instructor of the university and former head football coach, John R. Bender after one of his former teams, Washington State later adopted the mascot and nickname.[3] The teams compete in the NCAA's Division I and the Football Bowl Subdivision as members of the Big 12 Conference.

The official school colors of the University of Houston are scarlet red and albino white, and the mascot is a cougar named Shasta. Houston's traditional rival has been Rice with whom the Cougars shared a conference for thirty-three non-consecutive years (see also Houston–Rice rivalry).

Houston has had notable sports teams in its history, including Phi Slama Jama and the sixteen-time national champion men's golf team. The university's campus is home to many on-campus athletic facilities including TDECU Stadium (on the site of the former Robertson Stadium), Fertitta Center, and Schroeder Park.

Prior to 1960, Houston was a member of several athletic conferences including the Lone Star Conference, Gulf Coast Conference, and Missouri Valley Conference. From 1960 until 1971, Houston competed as an independent. From 1971 until 1996, Houston's sports teams were a part of the Southwest Conference. After the dissolution of that conference in 1996, the Cougars became charter members of Conference USA. Houston remained a member of Conference USA until 2013 when they joined the American Athletic Conference. In September 2021, Houston received and accepted a membership offer to the Big 12 Conference. They became members of the Big 12 on July 1, 2023.

Sports sponsored

Men's sports Women's sports
Baseball Basketball
Basketball Cross country
Cross country Golf
Football Soccer
Golf Softball
Track and field Swimming and diving
Track and field
† – Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor

The most recently added sport was women's golf. Two players represented UH as individuals in the 2014 season (played during the 2013–14 school year), and a complete team was formed starting in the 2014–15 season.[4]


Main article: Houston Cougars football

Houston Cougars football versus Air Force

UH fielded its first varsity intercollegiate football team in 1946. The Houston Cougars football team currently competes in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. After completing 18 seasons in C-USA in 2012, the Cougars joined the American Athletic Conference in 2013. The team played its home games at Robertson Stadium before it was closed and demolished after the 2012 season. The Cougars divided their home schedule in their first AAC season between Reliant Stadium and BBVA Compass Stadium; the new TDECU Stadium opened on the Robertson Stadium site in 2014.

The Cougars are coached by Willie Fritz, who was named head coach in December 2023. The Cougars joined the Big 12 Conference on July 1, 2023.


Main articles: Houston Cougars men's basketball and Houston Cougars women's basketball

The Houston Cougars men's basketball team represents the University of Houston in NCAA Division I men's basketball competition. The Cougars Men's basketball team plays in the Big 12 Conference. The team last played in the NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament in 2024. The Cougars are currently coached by Kelvin Sampson. The Cougars play their home games in the Fertitta Center, which opened during the 2018–19 season after renovation of the former Hofheinz Pavilion. During the renovation, home games were played at H&PE Arena at Texas Southern University.

Notable players for the UH men's basketball team include Basketball Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler (who would win two and one NBA Championships respectively, both for the hometown Houston Rockets in 1994–95, with Olajuwon being the Finals MVP for both titles) and also were part of the legendary Cougars fraternity Phi Slama Jama, as well as Otis Birdsong and Hall of Famer Elvin Hayes (who would win one NBA Championship with the Washington Bullets in 1978). Each of these players has had his number retired. Notable coaches for the Cougars are Guy Lewis, Clyde Drexler and Kelvin Sampson. Notable games for the Cougars include the first nationally syndicated NCAA basketball game, known as the "Game of the Century," and the NCAA National Championship Games in 1983 and 1984.

The women's team has made the NCAA Tournament in 1988, 1992, 2004, 2005, and 2011.


Main article: Houston Cougars baseball

Along with the university's other athletic teams, the baseball team is a member of the Big 12 Conference as a Division I team. They play their home games at Schroeder Park and are currently coached by Todd Whitting. The Houston Cougars baseball program has appeared in 22 NCAA Regionals, four Super Regionals, and two College World Series.


Main article: Houston Cougars softball

Cougars softball players celebrate a home run during the 2011 NCAA Division I softball tournament

The Houston Cougars softball team is the college softball team of the University of Houston. The team is a member of the Big 12 Conference as a Division I team. Their home games are played at Cougar Softball Stadium on-campus. The team was established in 2001, and has appeared in nine NCAA Regionals and two Super Regionals. The Cougars are coached by Kristin Vesely.


NCAA team championships

Houston has won 17 NCAA team national championships.[5]

Notable Non Varsity Sports

Ice Hockey

The University of Houston Ice Hockey Club competes in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA). The team was originally formed in 1935 but was disbanded during the mid-20th century. In the fall of 2023, the club was resurrected and played its first game post-revival against East Texas Baptist University.[6]

Since its return, the University of Houston Ice Hockey Club has actively participated in games against other traditional rivals, including the University of Texas at Austin, Southern Methodist University, Texas Christian University, University of Texas at San Antonio, and Texas State University. The team's re-establishment has been met with enthusiasm from students and alumni, contributing to the growing popularity of ice hockey within the city of Houston.

The club's home games are played at the Sugarland Ice & Centre, where they have begun to establish a dedicated fan base. The team's roster includes a diverse group of players, many of whom bring previous competitive hockey experience from high school and various junior hockey leagues.


The University of Houston Rugby Club plays college rugby in the Red River Conference of Division 1-A Rugby against traditional rivals such as Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, and TCU. The UH Rugby Club previously played Division III college rugby.[7] The UH Rugby Club is a registered organization sponsored by the UH campus recreation department.[8]


The University of Houston Cricket Club won the 2019 National College Cricket Association championship.[9]


See also: Houston–Rice rivalry

Houston's most meaningful current rivalry is with cross-town Rice University, which is a member of the American Athletic Conference. The Cougars and Rice Owls have competed in football, annually with a few exceptions, for a trophy known as the "Bayou Bucket", referencing one of the city of Houston's nicknames as the "Bayou City."

Historically, the University of Texas was one of Houston's principal rivals, when Houston was part of the now-defunct Southwest Conference. This rivalry gave rise to the Houston Cougar Paw tradition.[10]

Athletic facilities

Most of the university's major sports facilities are located along Cullen Boulevard, the central traffic artery through the campus. At times in the past, some of the university's teams have played their home games at off-campus venues such as the Astrodome and Rice Stadium. The golf programs compete off campus because they do not have a dedicated golf course on campus. University of Houston's current sports facilities include the following:[11]

The Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer was a tenant at Robertson Stadium until 2011. The stadium hosted the MLS Western Conference Final in 2006 and 2007.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Logos - University of Houston Athletics". June 12, 2018. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
  2. ^ "University of Houston Official Athletic Site". Uhcougars.Com. October 17, 1947. Archived from the original on September 16, 2016. Retrieved September 30, 2016.
  3. ^ Hudson, Gary (2019). The History of College Nicknames, Mascots and School Colors. Author Solutions Inc. ISBN 9781796072556.
  4. ^ "Houston Athletics to Add Women's Golf in 2013–14" (Press release). University of Houston Sports Information. October 15, 2012. Retrieved April 29, 2013.
  5. ^ "Championships summary through Jan. 1, 2022" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Archived (PDF) from the original on March 20, 2014. Retrieved February 25, 2015.
  6. ^ University of Houston, https://stories.uh.edu/magazine/magazine/online-stories/uh-revives-hockey-legacy-after-decades-on-ice/index.html
  7. ^ Examiner.com, University Houston Cougars begin a new rugby era, September 20, 2010
  8. ^ University of Houston, Student Affairs, Department of Campus Recreation, http://www.uh.edu/recreation/sport_clubs/index.html
  9. ^ @farazziraz (March 18, 2019). "Another one for the books!!!..." (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  10. ^ Houston Cougars Traditions Archived October 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. UH Athletics. Retrieved July 4, 2022.
  11. ^ Facilities Archived July 31, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, UH Athletics, Retrieved August 19, 2007.