The remarkable success of ACU Wildcat student-athletes through the years is a tribute to the student-athletes, the coaches and the tradition of winning permeating the program. ACU recruits its student-athletes for their academic and spiritual qualities, as well as their abilities in athletics.
ACU's intercollegiate athletics program began in 1919 when the football and men's basketball teams were started. Former director of athletics A.B. Morris served as the head football and head men's basketball coach during his long tenure at ACU. Former football coach A.M. "Tonto" Coleman went on to serve as the commissioner of the famed Southeastern Conference, and former track and field mentor Oliver Jackson coached three-time Olympic gold medalist Bobby Morrow - still considered one of the greatest sprinters of all time.
Wildcat student-athletes have been blessed by a wealth of some of the top coaches in collegiate athletics, including Bill McClure (track and field), Wally Bullington (football), Dee Nutt (men's basketball), Burl McCoy (women's basketball), Wes Kittley (track and field), Don W. Hood (track and field), Don D. Hood (track and field), Brek Horn (volleyball), Vince Jarrett (men's golf), Jon Murray (cross country and track and field), and Chris Thomsen (football). Current coaches such as Britt Bonneau (baseball) and Hutton Jones (men's and women's tennis) are at the top of their profession.
No intercollegiate athletics program in the state of Texas - at any level - can claim as many national championships as ACU, which has won 64 team titles since 1952. Of them, 57 have come at the NCAA Division II level, the fifth-most NCAA national championships in history behind only UCLA, Stanford and USC.
ACU's 54 national titles in track and field are the most in one sport by any university in the country.
The Wildcats have won 160 Lone Star Conference championships since joining the league in 1973 and have enjoyed some remarkable championship winning streaks. The men's track and field team has won 18 straight LSC championships entering the 2012 season (27 overall), and the women's track and field team won each of the first 20 LSC titles before its streak ended in 2004. The men's cross country team saw its LSC championship streak ended in November 2011 at 20 straight.
ACU student-athletes also have been awarded some of their sports highest individual honors, the most recent in 2008 when running back Bernard Scott - now with the Cincinnati Bengals - won the Harlon Hill Trophy as the top player in NCAA Division II football. That same year, offensive center Sam Collins - now an ACU assistant football coach - won the Gene Upshaw Award as the top lineman in NCAA Division II.
In 2007, cross country standout Nicodemus Naimadu became the first athlete in NCAA history - male or female, any level - to win four consecutive individual national championships. In 2009, decathlete Camille Vandendriessche became the first athlete in NCAA history to win three straight individual national championships in the decathlon. One year later, Linda Brivule became the first female in NCAA Division II history to win the individual national championship in the javelin. In 2012, thrower Nic Jones became the first male athlete in NCAA history (regardless of division) to win four national discus titles.
ACU's internationally recognized track and field program has produced world-record holders, 37 Olympians, several hundred all-America performers and two Olympic gold medalists. In addition, the program was named the Texas Sports Dynasty of the Century by Texas Monthly magazine in November 1999.
Wildcat teams have won 163 Lone Star Conference titles since joining the LSC in 1973, more than twice its closest competitor. Also, ACU has produced 32 NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship honorees since 1966.
The Wildcats also are heavily represented in Halls of Fame across the country, the most recent in 2011 when former running back Wilbert Montgomery was inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame and former golf coach Vince Jarrett was inducted into the Golf Coaches' Association Hall of Fame.
Bobby Morrow is in four different halls of fame: Drake Relays, U.S. Olympic, U.S. Track and Field and Texas Sports. Oliver Jackson is a member of the Texas Sports and U.S. Track Coaches halls of fame, and more than 50 other former Wildcats are recognized by other such organizations around the nation.
Abilene Christian is the only university in NCAA Division II to have been ranked in the top 15 in each of the 16 Learfield Directors' Cup final standings, including second in 1995-96, 1996-97, 1998-99, and 2005-06. The Wildcats finished in the top four in four other seasons.