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SMU Mustangs
UniversitySouthern Methodist University
ConferenceThe American (ending June 30, 2024)
ACC (beginning July 1, 2024)
ECAC (equestrian)
ASUN (men's swimming & diving, 2023–24 only)
NCAADivision I (FBS)
Athletic directorRick Hart
LocationUniversity Park, Texas
Varsity teams17
Football stadiumGerald J. Ford Stadium
Basketball arenaMoody Coliseum
Soccer stadiumWestcott Field
Fight songPeruna
ColorsRed and blue[1]
The American logo in SMU's colors

The SMU Mustangs are the athletic teams that represent Southern Methodist University in University Park, Texas, United States.[a] The Mustangs were founded in 1911 and joined the Southwest Conference, competing against Baylor, Rice, Texas, Texas A&M, Arkansas and Oklahoma A&M (which later became Oklahoma State).

The football team has participated in various bowl games, from the Dixie Classic in 1924 to the Fenway Bowl in 2023. Football alumni include Heisman winner Doak Walker, All-American Eric Dickerson, and two-time Super Bowl winner Forrest Gregg.

Conference affiliations

NCAA timeline

Timeline history

The Mustangs currently participate in the NCAA Division I (FBS for football) as a member of the American Athletic Conference. SMU was the only private school in the conference when it began operation as The American in 2013, but it was joined by Tulane and Tulsa a year later. From 1918 to 1996, the Mustangs were a member of the Southwest Conference, until it formally disbanded. The Mustangs subsequently joined the Western Athletic Conference and in 2005, SMU accepted an invitation to the Western Division of Conference USA. They accepted an invitation to join the Big East Conference, which split along football lines in 2013, with SMU and the other FBS schools reorganizing as the American Athletic Conference. The Mustangs will leave the conference on June 30, 2024 to join the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Varsity sports

Men's sports Women's sports
Basketball Basketball
Football Cross country
Golf Equestrian
Soccer Golf
Swimming & Diving Rowing
Tennis Soccer
Swimming & diving
Track & field[n 1]


Main article: SMU Mustangs football

National titles

In 1935, SMU had a 12–1–0 record, scoring 288 points while giving up 39.[2] The Mustangs shut out eight of their 12 regular season opponents, including conference rivals Texas, Rice, Baylor, and Texas A&M. The 1935 Mustangs were crowned national champions by Frank Dickinson,[3] one of seven contemporaneous selectors, all math systems, that chose five different national champions that year.[4]: 112–114  Dickinson was an economics professor at the University of Illinois. SMU claims the 1935 national title without qualification, even though they lost the Rose Bowl, as the Dickinson System was the first math system that was national in scope to select national champions.[4]

SMU claims three national championships in football, including 1981, when SMU was one of five teams selected as co-champions by the National Championship Foundation, and 1982, when the team won the Cotton Bowl Classic and was selected as one of two co-champions by Bill Schroeder of the Helms Athletic Foundation as his last ever selection.[5] All told, the Mustangs have played in 21 bowl games, including one appearance in the Rose Bowl, four appearances in the Cotton Bowl Classic, and four straight bowl appearances following the Mustangs' 2009 resurgence in football.

Southwest Conference Championships

  1. ^ Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor
  2. ^ Shared title.

American Athletic Conference Championships

Bowl appearances and results

SMU in action versus UTEP in 2009
Peruna VI
Season Bowl Game Opponent W/L PF PA
1924 Dixie Classic West Virginia Wesleyan L 7 9
1935 Rose Bowl Stanford L 0 7
1947 Cotton Bowl Classic Penn State T 13 13
1948 Cotton Bowl Classic Oregon W 21 13
1963 Sun Bowl Oregon L 14 21
1966 Cotton Bowl Classic Georgia L 9 24
1968 Bluebonnet Bowl Oklahoma W 28 27
1980 Holiday Bowl BYU L 45 46
1982 Cotton Bowl Classic Pittsburgh W 7 3
1983 Sun Bowl Alabama L 7 28
1984 Aloha Bowl Notre Dame W 27 20
2009 Hawaii Bowl Nevada W 45 10
2010 Armed Forces Bowl Army L 14 16
2011 BBVA Compass Bowl Pittsburgh W 28 6
2012 Hawaii Bowl Fresno State W 43 10
2017 Frisco Bowl Louisiana Tech L 10 51
2019 Boca Raton Bowl Florida Atlantic L 28 52
2022 New Mexico Bowl BYU Cougars L 23 24
2023 Fenway Bowl Boston College Eagles L 14 23

SMU once competed annually with Rice University in football for the Battle for the Mayor's Cup. SMU now competes annually with the University of North Texas although there is no trophy to commemorate the winner.

The "death penalty"

Main article: Southern Methodist University football scandal

On February 25, 1987, the Infractions Committee of the NCAA voted unanimously to cancel SMU's entire 1987 football season and all four of SMU's scheduled home games in 1988 in spite of SMU's cooperation and recommended sanctions. On April 11, 1987, SMU formally canceled the 1988 season, in effect, self-imposing a death penalty for a second football season.[6]

The program was terminated for the 1987 season because the university was making approximately $61,000 in booster payments from 1985 to 1986. It later emerged that a "slush fund" had been used to pay players as early as the mid-1970s, and athletic officials had known about it as early as 1981.

SMU was eligible for this penalty because it had already been placed on probation less than five years prior to these violations – specifically, in 1985, for earlier recruiting violations. Since many players were poor, boosters would pay for rent or other bills for the parents of the athletes, and several key boosters and administration officials felt it would be unethical to cut off payments.[citation needed] When the sanctions were handed down, SMU had only three players – all seniors about to graduate – receiving payments.[citation needed]

Not long afterward, SMU announced that its football team would stay shuttered for the 1988 season as well after school officials received indications that they wouldn't have enough experienced players to field a viable team.[7] As it turned out, new coach Forrest Gregg was left with an undersized and underweight lineup. It took the Mustang football program almost a decade to recover from the effects of the scandal, the team not returning to a bowl game until 2009 or winning a conference title until 2023. Since returning from the Death Penalty seasons, SMU has had six non-losing seasons, two of them .500 seasons.


Main articles: SMU Mustangs men's basketball and SMU Mustangs women's basketball

In men's basketball, the Mustangs have one Final Four Appearance accompanied by 14 Southwest Conference Championships. In July 2016, SMU hired Tim Jankovich to lead the Mustangs. Tim Jankovich retired in 2022.[8]

The team has advanced to the postseason 12 times since 1993. SMU's women's basketball team hired Coach Travis Mays in 2016. In 2020-2021 the womens basketball team canceled the remainder of the season.[9] After 5 seasons Travis Mays contract was not renewed and his overall record was 53-76. [10]


Main article: SMU Mustangs men's soccer

The men's soccer team is a consistent national contender,[citation needed] including a recent[when?] trip to the Elite Eight, and time spent as number one in the nation, finishing the season at number two, earning the school's sixth conference title in the sport.


The men's golf team won the 1954 NCAA Championship. In 2015, Bryson DeChambeau won the NCAA individual championship.

They have won nine conference championships:

In 2006, Golf Digest ranked the SMU men's golf program No. 16 in the nation. On May 1, 2007, SMU senior Colt Knost was named the Conference USA golfer of the year. He earned golfer of the week awards five times during his senior year, and can be recognized for shooting a record setting 64 for an amateur golfer.[citation needed] The 2015 team was given a postseason ban after multiple recruiting violations and unethical conduct under coach Josh Gregory. The decision also meant DeChambeau was unable to defend his title.

SMU's men's golf team was named the number 16 golf team in the nation by Golf Digest in 2006, and produced pro golfer Colt Knost.

In 1979 Kyle O'Brien won the AIAW women's national intercollegiate individual golf championship.

Swimming & Diving

SMU men's swimming and diving was founded in 1932 in the former Southwest Conference. The men's and women's teams have acquired 57 conference titles combined, and have a total of 91 NCAA National Championship appearances. Six SMU swimmers/divers have been named NCAA swimmer/diver of the year. The Robson & Lindley Aquatic Center, the swimming and diving team's brand new Olympic sized pool, was built in 2017 to continue the legacy of successful swimming and diving at SMU.

After The American dropped men's swimming & diving at the end of the 2022–23 school year, SMU joined the Atlantic Sun Conference (ASUN) for that sport. The Mustangs will spend only the 2023–24 season in the ASUN, since the ACC sponsors swimming & diving for both sexes.


SMU women's rowing achieved a program-best fourth-place finish at the 2018 American Athletic Conference championship under first year head coach Kim Cupini. The first varsity four won the program's first gold medal and the first varsity eight won bronze.[11] At the 2019 championship, the first varsity eight won gold, breaking University of Central Florida's long winning streak in the event.[12] At the 2019 American Athletic Conference championship, SMU medaled in every racing category from the V8 to the 3V8. The team finished in second place with 176 points, 4 points fbelow first place.


The Women's Equestrian Team at SMU competed under the United Equestrian Conference (UEC)[13] until 2019 and now compete under Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC).[14] The Dallas Equestrian Center (DEC) is the official stables where the team practices and hosts meets.[15]

Cheer and Pom

The SMU Spirit Teams are competitive teams consisting of 30 to 40 young men and women.[16] Many of the team's members compete at NCA and NDA College Nationals held in Daytona Beach, Florida, where the squads placed first in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2021 in division 1A. SMU Cheer and Pom Squads cheer at all home football games, bowl games, men's and women's home basketball games, and tournament play. Members of the SMU Cheer and Pom Squads participate in community service events around campus and the Dallas area.[17]

Discontinued sports

SMU discontinued several sports in 1980; the university's financial position led to budget cuts across the university, and the university's athletic department had become too big to support.[18]


Southern Methodist University fielded a varsity baseball team from 1919 until it was discontinued after the 1980 season for financial reasons.[19][20] The Mustangs won the 1953 SWC baseball title.[21]

Men's Track & Field

The SMU Board of Trustees on Friday approved an athletics committee recommendation to drop the school's successful men's track and field program, a move based on gender equity in 2004.[22]

SMU has competed in track and field since 1918, and has won three national championships. The Mustangs swept the NCAA indoor and outdoor titles in 1983, and won the 1986 outdoor title.

While it's been eight years since a national title, SMU finished in the top six at the NCAA indoor championships four of the past six seasons, and in the top 10 at the outdoor championships five of the past seven years.

The program produced 81 All-Americans and 28 Olympians, including Michael Carter, who won seven NCAA shotput titles before winning a silver medal in the 1984 Olympics.

The team will finish the 2004 season and the school will honor its 12 scholarships.


NCAA team championships

SMU has won four NCAA team national championships.[23]

Other national team championships

SMU won the following national championships that are not bestowed by the NCAA. Football titles were chosen by NCAA-designated "major selectors" listed in its official Football Bowl Subdivision Records publication.[24] While equestrian does not have an official NCAA championship, the sport is recognized by the NCAA as part os its Emerging Sports for Women program.

Athletic venues


Peruna is the official mascot and fight song of the Southern Methodist University (SMU) Mustangs, named after Peruna, a popular patent medicine (18 percent alcohol).[26] The name "Peruna" is given to each successive live mascot. The mascot debuted in 1932, and since then a black Shetland pony, Peruna, has been present at every SMU home football game except for one. The mascot team consists of costumed Human Peruna, the live animal Peruna, and Peruna handlers. The team attends all home football games and many community events. The costumed mascot is also referred to as "Peruna." Peruna was selected the #10 Best College Mascot by America's Best and Top Ten in 2009.[27]

Athletic directors

Notable athletes

The SMU football program has also produced other professional football standouts, such as Don Meredith, Kyle Rote, Jerry Ball, Craig James and more recently Cole Beasley, Sterling Moore, Chris Banjo, Kenneth Acker and Taylor Thompson. They are considered the best football team back then when they were ranked number 1 in 1982.


  1. ^ Virtually all of the SMU campus lies within University Park, which together with its neighbor Highland Park forms an enclave within the city limits of Dallas. The United States Postal Service considers all locations within University Park and Highland Park to have a Dallas address.


  1. ^ "SMU Licensing". June 8, 2016. Retrieved November 26, 2023.
  2. ^ " – History – College Football National Champions". Archived from the original on February 23, 2002.
  3. ^ "Frank G. Dickinson Papers, 1932–67 | University of Illinois Archives". December 8, 1992. Retrieved August 5, 2015.
  4. ^ a b 2020 NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Records (PDF). Indianapolis: The National Collegiate Athletic Association. July 2020. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 1, 2020. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  5. ^ Jenkins, Dan (September 11, 1967), "This Year The Fight Will Be in the Open", Sports Illustrated, vol. 27, no. 11, Chicago, IL: Time Inc., p. 33, retrieved March 16, 2016, In 1948, the Helms Athletic Foundation decided to name a national champion … and name past champions. The director of Helms since its beginning, Bill Schroeder, did the work, and he jokingly heads the committee that selects No. 1 after the bowl games. 'A committee of one – me,' he says.
  6. ^ Vickrey, Sawley (July 25, 2012). "Rodney Erickson: Penn State escaped four-year death penalty". Larry Brown Sports. Retrieved August 5, 2015.
  7. ^ Frank, Peter. "'88 football season canceled by SMU." New York Times, April 11, 1987.
  8. ^ "SMU coach Jankovich retires after 39-year career". March 22, 2022.
  9. ^ "Women's Basketball Cancels Remainder of 2020-21 Season". February 18, 2024.
  10. ^ "SMU announces women's basketball coach Travis Mays will not return". March 9, 2021.
  11. ^ "First Varsity Four Notches SMU's First Gold Medal at American Championship". SMU Athletics. May 12, 2018. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
  12. ^ "UCF Wins Fifth-Straight American Athletic Conference Women's Rowing Championship". American Athletic Conference. May 17, 2019. Retrieved November 25, 2019. It was SMU that won the V8, knocking off the Knights for the first time in five years.
  13. ^ "United Equestrian Conference". Retrieved February 25, 2020.
  14. ^ "EQ Teams". ECAC. Retrieved February 29, 2020.
  15. ^ "Facilities". SMU Athletics. Retrieved February 29, 2020.
  16. ^ "Pom - SMU (Southern Methodist University)".
  17. ^ "Three cheers for national champs: SMU Cheer takes top NCA honors - SMU".
  18. ^ "When There Were No More Games to Play". The Stable. May 2015. Archived from the original on July 4, 2016. Retrieved July 4, 2016.
  19. ^ Sherrington, Kevin (June 4, 2016). "Sherrington: SMU's long-gone baseball team rarely got respect, least of all from its own school". SportsDay. The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved September 11, 2018. And officials pulled the plug on it after the 1980 season, just the same, citing financial concerns.
  20. ^ Capstick, Brian (February 9, 2006). "The NightCap asks, 'Why no baseball at SMU?'". SMU Daily Campus. Retrieved September 11, 2018. The SMU Athletic Department told me that the baseball program was shut down for financial reasons.
  21. ^ "A Look Back at the Southwest Conference". Texas Almanac. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved April 18, 2012.
  22. ^
  23. ^ "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.
  24. ^ "National Champion Major Selections (1896 to Present)". 2022 NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Records (PDF). Indianapolis: The National Collegiate Athletic Association. July 2022. pp. 112–114. Retrieved January 4, 2023. The criteria for being included in this historical list of poll selectors is that the poll be national in scope, either through distribution in newspaper, television, radio and/or computer online. The list includes both former selectors, who were instrumental in the sport of college football, and selectors who were among the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) selectors.
  25. ^ "2021 NCA & NDA Collegiate Cheer & Dance Championship - Varsity TV Event - Varsity".
  26. ^ "The Peruna Tonic".
  27. ^ "Best College Mascots (Live)". Best of America. Archived from the original on June 21, 2016. Retrieved July 11, 2021.