|Sam Houston State Bearkats|
|University||Sam Houston State University|
|NCAA||Division I (FCS)|
|Athletic director||Bobby Williams|
|Football stadium||Bowers Stadium|
|Basketball arena||Johnson Coliseum|
|Baseball stadium||Don Sanders Stadium|
|Softball stadium||Bearkat Softball Complex|
|Soccer stadium||Pritchett Field|
|Other arenas||McAdams Tennis Center|
York Track & Field Complex
|Fight song||Bearkat Fight Song|
|Colors||Orange and white|
The Sam Houston Bearkats are the intercollegiate athletic teams that represent Sam Houston State University, located in Huntsville, Texas. Sam Houston's colors are orange and white and their sports teams' nickname is the Bearkats. Sam Houston sports teams participate in NCAA Division I (Football Championship Subdivision (FCS-formerly known as Division I-AA) for football) in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), having joined that conference on July 1, 2021 after spending the previous 34 years in the Southland Conference. SHSU's primary rival is Stephen F. Austin (SFA) and tensions between the two schools can run high before major sporting events that pit one against the other.
As a whole, the Sam Houston athletic department captured the Southland Conference Commissioner's Cup in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2013, 2014, 2018 and 2019 for all-around athletic department and topped the Southland Conference for all-academic recognition. The Kats are the only athletic department in the Southland Conference to get the Commissioner's Cup for 3 consecutive years while the 7 total cups are the most in league history.
Sam Houston boasts both the best average student athlete GPA as well as the highest number of student athletes named to the Southland Conference honor roll. This is particularly evident in the men's basketball program, which fielded 6 of the 13 student athletes who gained Academic All-Conference honors, including junior Ryan Bright, who was also named student athlete of the year for men's basketball.
Sam Houston's move to the WAC was announced on January 14, 2021 as part of a major expansion of that conference. Also announced as future WAC members were three other Southland members from Texas (Abilene Christian, Lamar, SFA) plus Big Sky Conference member Southern Utah. Initially, all five schools were to join in July 2022, but the entry of SHSU and the other Texas schools was moved to 2021 after the Southland expelled its departing members.
Sam Houston has been announced as a future member of Conference USA effective no later than July 2023.
|Men's sports||Women's sports|
|Cross country||Cross country|
|Track & Field†||Softball|
|Track & Field†|
|† – Track & Field includes both indoor and outdoor|
Both men's and women's basketball teams hold home games in Bernard Johnson Coliseum located on the campus of Sam Houston State University. Built in 1976, Johnson Coliseum is a 6,100 multi-seat arena that serves as host to both basketball and volleyball home matches.
Main article: Sam Houston State Bearkats men's basketball
The men's program has been the most consistent in the conference over the past decade under the direction of former head coach Bob Marlin, winning regular season titles in 2000 and 2003 with an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2003 (the first in school history), and again in 2010. The Bearkat men's basketball team has won more games in the 11 seasons under Coach Marlin than any other Southland school. The team also ranks #2 in wins among Division I schools in Texas in the current decade behind the Texas Longhorns. The Bearkat teams under Coach Marlin have compiled five 20-win seasons. Marlin's teams have been the only teams among Texas Division I programs to win at least 2 conference championships in the past 6 seasons. Under the direction of Bob Marlin, Bearkat men's basketball players have broken 23 school records and 30 Division I school records.
Since the departure of Bob Marlin to the University of Louisiana in 2010, the Bearkat Men's Basketball team has been under the direction of Jason Hooten, who had previously served as an assistant under Bob Marlin. In his first year as head coach, Hooten produced an 18–13 record, while garnishing a #3 seed in the Southland Conference tournament.
Main article: Sam Houston State Bearkats women's basketball
The women's basketball team began play in 1969 under coach Jody Conradt and were a force in their first 5 seasons with an overall 92–31 record. Under current head coach Brenda Nicholls the Bearkats have seen success in recent years, earning Southland Conference tournament berths in each of the last four seasons, including one regular season conference championship, a tournament final, a Women's Basketball Invitational appearance and a WNIT appearance. In team history, the squad has seen postseason action in 20 seasons, with the most successful run being in 2013 where the Bearkats earned berth into the Women's National Invitation Tournament, where the team lost to Tulane in the opening round, 57–65. The Bearkats lone Women's Basketball conference championship came in 2013. The women's basketball program is among the most efficient programs in NCAA Division I, ranking #2 nationally in cost per win in 2006 at less than $25,000 per win with 18 wins against Division I opponents (21 overall).
Main article: Sam Houston State Bearkats football
K.C. Keeler is currently the head coach of the Bearkats. Coach Keeler had previously coached Delaware to three FCS Championship games, winning one in 2003. The Sam Houston Bearkats won the 2020 NCAA Division I Championship with a 23-21 victory of South Dakota State.
The Bearkats are one of the most successful FCS programs in the nation within the last three years, reaching the NCAA Division I FCS Championship game in back-to-back years in 2011 and 2012. The Kats are also one of three programs in the FCS to make the NCAA Playoffs in three consecutive years, and owned the nation's longest home winning streak at 23 during that span.
Every year, the "Battle of the Piney Woods" rivalry game is held between the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks and the Bearkats. The Bearkats have dominated the rivalry for the past decade and own an all-time advantage in the football series 57–35–2, including 17 of the last 20 and each of the last 9. Since 2010 the rivalry game has been played at NRG Stadium in Houston, the home of the Houston Texans.
The Bearkats shared the NAIA national title with Concordia (MN) in 1964, when they finished the national championship game in a 7–7 tie.
Willie Fritz was the head football coach (2010–2013) at Sam Houston and was the 2011 American Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year and 2012 AFCA Regional Coach of the Year.
In 2011, Fritz's second year as head coach, the Bearkats were the only FCS school to have an undefeated regular season thus earning the team the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. The 2011 Bearkats were NCAA Division I National Championship Finalists, eventually losing to the North Dakota State Bison in the FCS National Championship game. They would return to the title game the following season, only to lose to the North Dakota State Bison again. However, on May 2, 2021 the Bearkats defeated the NDSU Bison in the quarterfinals of the 2021 NCAA Division I FCS championship.