Men’s basketball at Lamar has a rich and storied past, producing such notable coaches as Billy Tubbs, Jack Martin and Pat Foster. The program has been to nine post-season tournaments, including five NCAA Tournaments (1979, 1980, 1981, 1983, 2000), reaching the “Sweet Sixteen” in 1980. They have been to four National Invitational Tournaments (1982, 1984, 1985, 1986) as well. The men’s basketball team also had an 80-game home court winning streak, which still ranks as the seventh-longest streak in NCAA history. The Cardinals have won three Lone Star Conference Championships and nine Southland Conference Championships, most recently winning the 2008 SLC title. Lamar has produced four All-Americans - Don Bryson (AP, 1965), Earl Dow (AP,1969), Mike Oliver (1981), and Matt Sundblad (GTE Academic, 1998 and 1999); 43 first-team all-conference selections and six conference Players of the Year.
Lamar women’s basketball has enjoyed resurgence under head coach Larry Tidwell. The Lady Cardinals just completed a 25-8 season in 2010-11, and earned a spot in the WNIT. Lamar advanced to its second ever NCAA Tournament in 2010 after winning the Southland Conference regular season and tournament titles. The Lady Cards reached the elite eight of the NCAA Tournament in 1991. Tidwell has a 93-40 record in his first four seasons at Lamar and has guided the Lady Cards to three straight 20-win seasons for the first time in school history. The Lady Cardinals have turned out 22 first-team all-conference players, two conference Players of the Year and one All-American.
Lamar’s baseball team has been a consistent winner over the years, with much of that success achieved as a result of head coach Jim Gilligan’s hard work. Gilligan, who lettered at Lamar in 1967-1968, has spent over three decades coaching at his alma mater. During his tenure, Lamar has won 10 conference championships, four conference tournament titles and appeared in 12 NCAA Regionals.
Gilligan is the sixth-winningest active Division I coach in the country with nearly 1,200 victories. The Cardinals have produced more than 130 all-conference players over the years, including 10 Pitchers of the Year and three Hitters of the Year. Lamar has several players who have appeared in the Major Leagues including: Jerald Clark (San Diego, Colorado, Minnesota), Kevin Millar (Florida, Boston, Baltimore, Toronto), Brian Sanches (Philadelphia, Washington, Florida), Clay Hensley (San Diego, Houston, Florida), Micah Hoffpauir (Chicago), Bruce Aven (Cleveland, Florida, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles) and Eric Cammack (New York Mets). Vincent-Beck Stadium was the former home to the San Diego Padres AA baseball team and has hosted three Southland Conference Tournaments.
The men’s and women’s golf teams have made their mark at the NCAA level and in the professional ranks. Lamar has dominated the Southland Conference in men’s golf more than any other sport, winning 23 SLC Championships, including seven of the last 10. The highlight for the men’s golf program came in 2007 when Lamar tied for third at the NCAA Championships, finishing behind only Stanford and Georgia.
The men’s golf team was consistently ranked in the top 20 in the country in the early 1980s and was one of the top programs at the NCAA College Division level in the late 1960s, winning back-to-back National Titles in 1967 and 1968. The Cardinals have appeared in six NCAA Championships and 13 NCAA Regionals. The program has sent several players to the PGA Tour including current professionals Chris Stroud, Ronnie Black, Trevor Dodds, Kelly Gibson and John Reigger.
Stroud was named Southland Player of the Year each of his four years at Lamar and was the first player in SLC history to earn First-Team All-SLC honors in four consecutive years. He was also a two-time Ping All-American and was a 2001 freshman of the year. Nine difference Cardinals have earned All-America honors, while 23 have won individual medalist honors at the conference tournament.
The women’s program has also made a splash on the national scene for over three decades and has won seven conference championships since 1993. The Lady Cardinals were one of the top AIAW (the precursor to NCAA competition for women) programs in the region in the late 1970s and early 1980s, prior to the NCAA recognizing women’s competition. The women’s team placed seventh in the country at the 1983 NCAA Championships. The Lady Cardinals made additional appearances at the NCAA Championships in 1991, 1993, and 1995. Clifford Ann Creed, Dawn Coe-Jones, Gail (Anderson) Graham and Jennifer Wyatt have all been winners on the LPGA Tour.
The men’s and women’s track teams have enjoyed a great deal of success. The Lamar track program has sent seven athletes to the Olympics: Brian Davis(1960), Christer Gullstrand (1980), Doug Hinds (1980 & 1984), Midde Hamrin (1984), Pedro Caceres (1984), Thomas Eriksson (1984), and Yamelis Ortiz (2000, 2004).
The men’s team won nine straight Southland Conference outdoor championships from 1978-86. The Cardinals also captured four straight triple crowns, winning cross country, indoor and outdoor titles in the same season from 1981-84. Lamar has won the last five Southland Conference cross country titles, and 10 overall. The men’s team has produced 30 NCAA All-Americans, including two National Champions. Joe LeBlanc was the NCAA College Division Champion in the 880-yards in 1964 and Thomas Eriksson was the NCAA Champion in the high jump in 1985.
The women’s team captured the 1992 Sun Belt Conference outdoor championship, and has won three SLC cross country titles. The Lady Cardinals have also produced five AIAW (the precursor to NCAA competition for women) All-Americans. Carolyn Ford captured the AIAW National Championship in the high jump in 1982 and Midde Hamrin won AIAW National championships in the 5,000-meters and 10,000-meters in 1982. Most recently, Yamelis Ortiz was a four-time NCAA qualifier in the 400-meter hurdles and participated in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia as part of the Puerto Rican 1600-meter relay team.
Lamar’s men’s and women’s tennis have enjoyed a great deal of success through the years. The men’s team captured 12 Lone Star Conference Championships and five Southland Conference Championships. Lamar has had two SLC Players of the Year (Jakob Paulsen & Filip Kanczula) over the past eight seasons. In the late 1950s, the Cardinals were one of the top tennis programs in the country, capturing six straight NAIA National Championships from 1955-60.
The women’s team has won two Southland Conference Championships (1983 &1985) and one American South Conference Championship (1988). Mariaryeni Gutierrez was named SLC Player of the Year in 2010, while Andrea Martinez won the award in 2006. The Lady Cardinals surged to national prominence in the early 1970s as the doubles team of Cathy Beene and Linda Rupert captured the 1973 AIAW National Championship.
Since its development in the 1960s, the Lamar volleyball team has been one of the best programs in the region. The Lady Cardinals placed in the top 10 at the AIAW (the precursor to NCAA competition for women) National Championships for three straight years from 1975-77, including placing seventh in the country in 1975. The success continued into the 80s, as the Lady Cards won two Southland Conference Tournament championships (1983 & 1984) and two American South Conference championships (1987 & 1990). Lamar also won Sun Belt Conference Championships in 1993 and 1997. After returning to the SLC in 1998, Lamar won regular season titles in 2001 and 2007, and won the SLC Tournament in 2008. The Lady Cards appeared in the 1983,1984, 1993 and 2008 NCAA Championships. Lamar has had 66 players earn all-conference honors, four conference Players of the Year (Liz Blue-1983, Ruby Randolph-1984, Natalie Sarver-2002 and Molli Abel-2007) and one All-American (Blue-1983).
Lamar enjoyed a triumphant return to the gridiron in 2010 as the first Lamar football team to take the field since 1989 finished with a 5-6 record. Lamar dropped football at the end of the 1989 season, but competed in 2010 in the newly refurbished Provost Umphrey Stadium. The Cardinals, under the direction of head coach Ray Woodard, nearly knocked off No. 12 McNeese State on the road in their first game in over two decades before falling 30-27.
Lamar has won four Southland Conference titles in football, and one Lone Star Conference championship. Five players have earned All-America honors in a Cardinal uniform, while 90 have earned all-conference recognition. In 1985, running back Burton Murchison was named the SLC Offensive Player of the Year, while Vernon McManus (1965) and Eugene Seale (1983) earned SLC Defensive Player of the Year honors. Nearly 25 former Lamar players have gone on to be drafted or signed as free agents by NFL franchises.
In the fall of 2007, Lamar added women’s soccer to its list of Division I sports. In just its fourth season of competition, the Lady Cardinals broke through and qualified for the Southland Conference Tournament. The season came to an end with a narrow 1-0 loss to UTSA, but head coach Dewi Hardman has the team primed for another run in 2011.
The Lamar Soccer Complex was opened for competition in 2009 and features coaches offices, locker rooms, a training room and a natural grass surface with lights. The home field advantage came through in 2010 as Lamar finished with a 5-2-2 record on its own pitch.
Lamar has some of the finest athletic facilities in the region. Most recently, the Lamar Athletic Complex was completed, housing the Lamar football team as well as other athletic administration. The 54,000-square-foot facility lies at the south end of newly renovated Provost Umphrey Stadium. The complex contains football locker rooms, weight training and sports medicine facilities and academic centers.
The Montagne Center, which opened in 1984 and has a seating capacity of 10,080, is one of the premier basketball arenas in the country. Vincent-Beck Stadium, home of the Cardinal baseball team, hosted the 1993 Sun Belt Conference tournament, and the 2001, 2002 and 2006 Southland Conference tournaments. The LU Soccer Complex opened in 2009 and is one of the top facilities in the Southland Conference. The Lamar Tennis Facility, now named the Thompson Family Tennis Center, received a total renovation in 2009. The Ty Terrell Track, which was resurfaced in 2001, is where the Lamar track program trains. It is also the site of the Ty Terrell Relays, which annually attracts some of the best prep and collegiate track athletes. McDonald Gymnasium opened its doors in 1958, it immediately became a campus landmark. It was the home of basketball, volleyball and high school sports. Today it is the competition venue for Lamar University Volleyball.