University of Texas

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The University of Texas at Austin is the flagship institution of the University of Texas System.The university was established in 1839, when the Congress of the Republic of Texas set aside land for a university in its new state capital, Austin. Initially, the main campus was located on a tract of 40 acres, known as College Hill.Comprising 16 colleges and schools, the university is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The School of Architecture, the McCombs School of Business, the College of Communication, the College of Education, the College of Engineering, the College of Fine Arts, the School of Information, the Jackson School of Geosciences, the School of Law, the LBJ School of Public Affairs, the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Natural Sciences, the School of Nursing, the College of Pharmacy, and the School of Social Work, are its academic units.The University of Texas is a major research university with more than 90 research units, including units at the main campus, the J.J. In the field of international education, the campus maintains a wide range of exchange programs.Certificates, credit towards baccalaureate degrees, and certain master's degrees, as well as high-school diplomas, can be earned through the Continuing and Distance Education programs.The campus offers a wide variety of varsity and intramural sports programs. Nicknamed the "Longhorns," the athletic teams compete in NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Division I level.Ranked among the country's top-10 research libraries, the library system of the university holds the materials from and about Latin America, art and music collections, most of the University of Texas Library's theater and dance materials, manuscripts, rare books, and photographs, in addition to the materials that support the curriculum.The Middle Eastern collection, map collection, East Asian collection, Ruth Stephan poetry collection, and United Nations documents are included in the special collections at Perry-Castaneda Library, the main library.Additionally, the campus is a home to the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, and the Texas Memorial Museum, housing Texas Natural History Collections.The Jack S. Documents relating to President Johnson also are housed in the LBJ Library and Museum.

The University of Texas History

When it was established in 1883, the University of Texas was set on a forty-acre expanse named “College Hill” that would eventually overlook the Texas State Capitol. The school was given the constitutional mandate to be “a university of the first class.” Since its founding, the university has grown from a one-building campus with more mesquite than students to the flagship institution of a 150,000-student system and first-tier research university of international renown. The story of the institution’s evolution is preserved in the University of Texas Archives at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.

The archives preserve and make available for research the historically valuable official records of the university, the personal and professional papers of significant individuals from its history, and additional materials that substantively document its growth from a regional college to a world-leading research institution. Currently, the archives maintain some 4,500 linear feet of records in addition to personal papers, books, and periodicals. They also house student publications sound recordings and oral histories and photographs, maps, and drawings. Researchers may find particular areas of interest within the Memorabilia Collection, the Richard T. Fleming University Writings Collection, University Publications, Visual Materials, and the Shirley Bird Perry University of Texas Oral History Project.

UT Archives hold official ​university ​records as well as collections of prominent faculty​, staff members, and alumni. The papers and materials of Walter Prescott Webb, Eugene C. Barker, Maurice Ewing, Clarence Ayres, Woodrow “Woody” W. Bledsoe and others shed light on ​accomplishments made and research conducted at the University over the years.

When it was established in 1883, the University of Texas was set on a forty-acre expanse named “College Hill” that would eventually overlook the Texas State Capitol. The school was given the constitutional mandate to be “a university of the first class.” Since its founding, the university has grown from a one-building campus with more mesquite than students to the flagship institution of a 150,000-student system and first-tier research university of international renown. The innovative spirit of Texas spurred the school’s expansion as did changing national trends in higher education, and its extraordinary growth is the result of many forward-thinking, collaborative individuals. The story of the institution’s evolution is preserved in the University of Texas Archives, the official repository for documentation on the university’s history and development, which is housed at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.

The archives preserve and make available for research the historically valuable official records of the university, the personal and professional papers of significant individuals from its history, and additional materials that substantively document its growth from a regional college to a world-leading research institution. Currently, the archives maintain some 4,500 linear feet of records in addition to personal papers, books, and periodicals. They also house student publications sound recordings and oral histories and photographs, maps, and drawings illustrating the rich history of The University of Texas at Austin and The University of Texas System administration. Researchers will find official records as well as faculty and staff papers, the Memorabilia Collection, the Richard T. Fleming University Writings Collection, University Publications, Visual Materials, and the ongoing University of Texas Oral History Project.


The early years (1906–36) Edit

1906–13 Edit

The Texas men's basketball program began in 1906 under the direction of Scotland native Magnus Mainland, a graduate engineering student and lineman for the Texas football team who organized, coached, and played on the University's first varsity basketball team. [12] [13] Mainland had been a nationally known basketball player as an undergraduate student at Wheaton College (Illinois) prior to coming to UT. [14] His Wheaton team placed second out of the three competing college basketball teams in the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis, the first Olympic Games featuring the young sport (although only as a demonstration sport). [14] Mainland was able to persuade the University Athletic Council to set aside $125 for the preparation of an outdoor basketball court on the southwest corner of Clark Field—the stadium then hosting the Texas football, baseball, and track teams—and to let him organize, coach, and play on the University's first varsity basketball team. [15] [16]

The Longhorns took the court for the first time on March 10, 1906, defeating the Baylor Bears 27–17 on their new outdoor home court at Clark Field. [17] Texas traveled to Waco two weeks later for a three-game series with the Bears (also in their first year) and won all three games behind the play of Mainland. [18] The Longhorns ultimately won seven of the eight games scheduled in the basketball program's inaugural season. [8]

Due to inadequate funding, the UT Athletic Council canceled the fledgling program after two seasons, leaving Texas without a basketball team for the 1908 season. The Athletics Council revived the program in 1909, owing in large part to the efforts of Longhorn player Morgan Vining, who campaigned to raise student interest in the game. [2] [19] [20] [21] Vining was supported in his efforts by the UT student newspaper, The Daily Texan, which consistently advocated for the reinstatement of basketball—in part because the game was viewed as good physical training for football players in the latter sport's offseason. [22]

Language professor, German native, and Longhorn football head coach W. E. Metzenthin (1909–11), who had argued strongly against the cancellation of basketball at UT, [23] assumed head coaching duties for three seasons following the re-establishment of the program. The Longhorns played just 10 of their 27 games under Metzenthin (and only four of their final 18) on their home court, outdoor Clark Field—with its stubbornly uneven surface and total vulnerability to weather conditions [22] —being particularly ill-suited as a basketball venue. Metzenthin finished with an overall record of 13–14 not until 1959 would another UT basketball coach leave with a losing overall record. [8] After Metzenthin relinquished coaching duties following the 1911 season in order to serve as UT Athletic Council chairman (precursor to the athletic director position), former Texas track coach J. Burton Rix—coaching without financial compensation, just as had his two predecessors—led Texas to a 5–1 record in his single season as head coach (1912). [24]

Professor Carl C. Taylor, also the Texas track coach, assumed basketball head coaching responsibilities for the 1913 season. Taylor arranged for the rental of the theater of the Ben Hur Temple and its conversion into a miniature basketball court and arena so that his team would have an indoor venue for home games and practice, with UT paying the Shriners and Scottish Rite Freemasons a sum of $75 for the season. [25] Taylor came to UT with a strong reputation for basketball expertise, acquired during his years at Drake University. [26] His Texas team finished with an overall record of 8–4 and, beginning with a 70–7 rout of Southwestern in San Marcos, contributed the first three victories to what would become a national-record winning streak. [8] At the conclusion of the 1912–13 academic year, the UT's Cactus yearbook declared, "Basketball is no longer a minor sport at the University of Texas. It always has been so considered until this year Prof. Carl Taylor took charge of the work and infused new life into it." [26]

1914–27 Edit

L. Theo Bellmont, the first Athletic Director at The University of Texas—and a man instrumental in the formation of the Southwest Conference—took the reins as head coach from 1914 to 1915, for the first of his two stints leading the basketball team, and directed the Longhorns to 11–0 and 14–0 records in the 1914 and 1915 seasons, respectively, as well as the inaugural Southwest Conference championship during the latter season. [17] [27] [28] Bellmont's teams contributed 25 victories to a winning streak that would ultimately grow to 44 games.

After his teams extended the UT winning streak to 28 games, Bellmont stepped away from coaching to focus on his work as athletic director and appointed Roy Henderson to the still-unpaid Texas basketball head coaching position. Henderson's team recorded Texas' third consecutive undefeated season in 1916 to extend the total to 40 consecutive victories. Senior center Clyde Littlefield, the linchpin of the three consecutive undefeated teams [29] —and a towering figure in UT athletics history who would later coach the football team for seven seasons (1927–33), serve as the head coach of the UT track team from 1925 to 1960 (winning 25 conference championships), and found the Texas Relays [30] —would later receive retroactive recognition as Texas' first consensus All-American in basketball for his play in the 1916 season. [31]

UT alumnus and former regent Thomas Watt Gregory had begun campaigning a decade earlier for the construction of a permanent gymnasium for the benefit of the student body and faculty [32] —one in which the basketball team would be able to play and practice as well—but fundraising for the $75,000 project had lagged, even more so with Gregory's departure from Austin to serve as the U.S. Attorney General under Woodrow Wilson in 1914. The project was shelved, but the need remained acute, and, following the 1916 season, the UT Athletic Council decided to allocate $8,500 for the construction of the temporary and rudimentary all-wood Men's Gym, which was finished for the second game of the next season. [33]

Theo Bellmont hired Eugene Van Gent from Missouri in 1916 to lead the Texas football, basketball, and track programs. Van Gent's single basketball team at Texas recorded a 13–3 overall mark and won the Southwest Conference championship for the third consecutive year, with the season highlighted by the first-ever basketball games between Texas and the Texas A&M Aggies, following the resumption of athletic relations between the two schools. [34] The Longhorns began the basketball rivalry with wins in both home games and in one of two games in College Station. Van Gent's 1917 Texas team also added the final four wins to the Texas winning streak that had begun in 1913 before suffering a 24–18 loss to Rice in Austin. [17] Texas' winning streak stood as the NCAA record for consecutive wins in men's basketball for almost 40 years (until Phil Woolpert's Bill Russell-led San Francisco teams won 60 consecutive games from 1955 to 1957), and the achievement today remains the fifth-longest winning streak in Division I history. [20] [35] Van Gent departed after coaching for one season in each sport—winning the conference championship in both—to join the military following the United States' entry into the First World War in April 1917. [36]

Following Van Gent's single year as head coach, Roy Henderson returned to coach Texas for two additional seasons. With several players from the 1917 team having left for military service, the 1918 Longhorn basketball team had only one returning player in sophomore Al DeViney. Henderson scouted talent in the intramural ranks and nonetheless assembled a team that finished 14–5 overall and missed winning Texas' fourth consecutive SWC championship by a single game. Henderson guided the Longhorns to a 17–3 overall record in his final season (1919), splitting the four-game series with the second-place Aggies to win the SWC championship—Texas' fourth basketball conference championship during the five years the conference had existed. [17]

From 1910 through 1919, Texas recorded an overall winning percentage of .789. [8] Only three NCAA schools—California, Navy, and Wisconsin—achieved higher winning percentages for that decade. [20]

Eugene Van Gent was set to return as head coach for the 1920 season but resigned before the beginning of the season to pursue a business opportunity in California. [37] Berry M. Whitaker—who had come to the University to develop and direct one of the nation's first intramural programs, and who would also coach the Texas football team for the next three seasons—agreed to serve as head coach for the season. Texas, with seven returning lettermen and war veterans who had played in 1916 and 1917, was once again expected to contend for the conference championship in 1920, but seven players missed significant parts of the season due to injury and illness. [38] After winning their first five games, the Longhorns lost six of eleven to finish at 10–6 overall—Texas' worst season in nine years.

Theo Bellmont designated Whitaker as the Longhorn football head coach after the departure of Bill Juneau, [39] and Bellmont himself would assume basketball head coaching duties for two more seasons (1921 and 1922), finishing with a 13–5 overall record in 1921. Bellmont then led Texas to its first 20-win season during his final year. The Longhorns finished 20–4 overall and 14–4 in conference play in 1922. Missing five players to injury and grades in the latter part of the season, including the SWC's leading scorer in Phillip Peyton, Texas nonetheless entered its final game with a chance to win the SWC championship for the first time since 1919. [40] The Longhorns fell short in College Station against the Aggies, then coached by future Texas football head coach and Athletic Director Dana X. Bible, who claimed their third consecutive SWC championship. [41] Bellmont returned to his administrative responsibilities for good following the 1922 season, finishing his basketball coaching career with a 58–9 overall record his .866 winning percentage remains the highest of any coach in program history. [10]

Bellmont selected football assistant coach Milton Romney as the next head basketball coach—then still an unpaid position. Romney's tenure took an early inauspicious turn when the Longhorns lost at home to Oklahoma A&M, 28–27, after Romney called his top players to the bench with a 14-point lead and nine minutes remaining. The Longhorns again suffered a disproportionate number of injuries, including the loss of two starters to a broken leg and a fractured skull resulting from a motorcycle accident. [42] The protracted selection of E. J. "Doc" Stewart from Clemson University as the head football coach created further turmoil and distraction when newspapers reported that he would also be charged with leading the basketball team, thus rendering Romney a lame duck with seven games to play. [42] Texas stumbled to an 11–7 finish, losing four of its final six games, but managing to close the season with a win over Bible's Aggies.

A medical school graduate, a piano enthusiast, a former sportswriter, a one-time automobile dealership owner, and a veteran football and basketball coach, Doc Stewart quickly became a popular figure across diverse segments of the University population. His oratory eloquence landed him an open job offer from the head of the UT English Department. After having coached the football team to an undefeated season, Stewart turned to implementing an entirely new style of basketball at Texas—one that emphasized ball movement and man-to-man defense and that essentially dispensed with the dribble altogether. [43] Texas entered the season expected to finish third or fourth in conference play behind TCU, Oklahoma A&M, and possibly Texas A&M. [43] Texas opened the season with a one-point win and two four-point wins over Southwestern—an opponent that had lost its previous six games against the Longhorns by an average of almost 20 points—leading to concern in the local newspapers. [43] Contrary to prognostications, Texas opened the conference slate with two wins over Oklahoma A&M and sweeps of six other conference series to reach 14–0 in conference play, securing at least a share of the SWC championship with six games remaining, all away from Austin. The Longhorns next traveled more than 500 miles by train to open a long and bitter basketball rivalry with the Arkansas Razorbacks, then in their first year of competition in the sport, earning four- and 11-point wins in Fayetteville. [44] Despite its unblemished record, Texas was still predicted to lose at least one game to the Aggies in College Station. The Longhorns instead managed 24–14 and 17–11 victories over the Aggies to finish as the last undefeated team in Texas and SWC history at 23–0. Senior guard Abb Curtis would later receive retroactive recognition for the 1924 season as UT's second-ever consensus first-team All-American in basketball. [31]

Some have speculated that Stewart's devotion to his varied non-athletic interests was the root cause of his football and basketball teams' decline in performance over his tenure. [39] Following the perfect 1924 season, Stewart's next three teams finished 17–8, 12–10, and 13–9. This slide—coupled with his football teams' similar decline in performance—resulted in the popular Stewart's controversial dismissal following the 1926–27 season.

1927–36 Edit

Excepting two strong seasons—one particularly noteworthy—Texas maintained this level of relatively unremarkable performance in basketball for the better part of the next decade. Texas won only a single SWC Championship during the next nine seasons—in the exceptional 22–1 season of 1932–33, for which the Longhorns were also retroactively awarded the Premo-Porretta Power Poll national championship (presently unclaimed by UT). [45]

Fred Walker (1927–31) coached the Longhorns following E.J. Stewart's dismissal, producing a 51–30 combined record during his four-year stint as head coach. Walker led Texas to an 18–2 overall record and 10–2 conference record during his second season. He was terminated following the Longhorns' disappointing 9–15 season in his fourth year.

Ed Olle (1931–34), who had played for Texas under Stewart, coached Texas for three seasons after Walker's dismissal, leading the Longhorns to a 22–1 overall mark, a conference championship, and a retroactively awarded Premo-Porretta Power Poll national championship during his second year. During his third year, Olle signaled that he would resign at the end of the season and recommended that freshman team and assistant varsity coach Marty Karow take his place.

Karow (1934–36) would direct Texas to a combined 31–16 record over his two years as head coach. His relationship with Texas Athletic Director and Longhorn football head coach Jack Chevigny marked by increasing friction, Karow resigned as head coach in the summer of 1936 and was hired shortly thereafter as the baseball head coach for the United States Naval Academy.

Jack Gray & H. C. "Bully" Gilstrap era (1937–51) Edit

Pre-war Jack Gray years (1937–42) Edit

Only two seasons removed from his senior year at Texas, in which he earned consensus first-team All-American honors, and with only one year as an assistant coach with the Texas freshman team, the immensely popular Jack Gray was hired as the fourteenth Texas men's basketball head coach in the summer of 1937 at the age of 25. [46]

After his first two teams combined for a 24–21 record, Gray's 1938–39 team posted a 19–6 overall mark and won the Southwest Conference championship outright for UT's first basketball conference title in six years. The season featured the then-most anticipated intersectional matchup in school history, as Phog Allen's Kansas Jayhawks came to Austin. [47] The Jayhawks appeared to be on their way to winning the first game until the Longhorns rallied late in the second half for a 36–34 victory. The second game the following night proceeded more in line with expectations, with Kansas winning handily, 49–35. Following the series against KU, Texas traveled to Oklahoma City to compete for the first time in the All-College Tournament, which had begun in 1937. The 1939 edition of the holiday tournament featured 32 teams from the Southwest and Midwest. [47] The Longhorns easily advanced through their tournament bracket, defeating Southeastern State College (Oklahoma), Westminster College (Missouri), Kansas State Teachers College, and tournament favorite Baylor before falling to Central Missouri State Teachers College in the championship game, 33–25. Texas began conference play with an upset loss to the Rice Owls before hosting the Arkansas Razorbacks for two games in Austin. The Longhorns won a close first contest, 41–37, before being thoroughly outclassed in the second, falling 65–41. With Texas reeling—having started 1–2 in SWC play, and hosting no conference games in Austin for the next month—the team's goal of ending the conference championship drought was in peril. The Longhorns began a four-game stretch of conference road games with a win over Baylor in Waco before continuing to Dallas to face the SMU Mustangs, who stood at 5–0 in conference play. Gray praised the Mustangs as "probably the most powerful team in the history of the school," and SMU coach Whitey Baccus confidently announced that his team would dispatch the Longhorns. [48] Instead, Texas handed SMU its first defeat of the conference season, 33–27. The Longhorns defeated the TCU Horned Frogs and the Texas A&M Aggies in their remaining two conference road games before winning all five SWC contests in Austin, concluding with a 66–32 rout of the Aggies. With a nine-game conference winning streak, Texas had finished at 10–2 in SWC play to claim sole possession of the SWC championship. The Longhorns were one of eight teams to qualify for the inaugural postseason NCAA Tournament, where they fell 56–41 to the "Tall Firs" of the Oregon Webfoots (later known as the Ducks), the eventual NCAA champion. Texas lost the West Regional third-place game to Utah State, 51–49.

Hopes and expectations for the 1939–40 team were high, as all but one of the key players returned from the previous season's SWC champion and NCAA Tournament squad. [49] Texas opened the season with seven wins by an average of 18 points (and by no fewer than 11), including two wins over the Texas Tech Red Raiders in a home series that marked the first meetings between the two schools in basketball. [50] Gray was intent both upon raising national recognition of the program and upon toughening his team in the early part of the season for the conference slate ahead, and to both ends he sought to involve the Longhorns in intersectional competition against prominent teams in high-profile venues across the country. [46] [49] Ned Irish, director of Madison Square Garden and a pioneer in the promotion of college basketball in the 1930s, had invited Gray's Longhorns to play Manhattan College as part of a doubleheader that included Southern California and Long Island University. [46] The UT Athletic Council agreed to fund the team's trip to New York for the contest, followed by a stop in Philadelphia to play Temple. In front of 18,425 fans, the Longhorns overwhelmed Manhattan by a score of 54–32, earning the praise of the New York sports media and basketball fans for their speed and the accuracy of their one-handed shooting, which Gray had popularized as a player and continued teaching as a coach. [49] [51] Continuing on to Philadelphia, Texas fell 47–37 to Temple, winners of the first National Invitation Tournament two years prior. [52] Having lost one of two road contests against Arkansas and a road game against SMU in overtime, Texas entered the penultimate game of the season at 18–3 and tied at 8–2 in conference play with the preseason conference favorite Rice Owls—a team that the Longhorns had defeated on Rice's home court earlier in the season, 50–46. [53] [54] In front of a raucous pro-Texas crowd of more than 8,000 fans packed into Gregory Gymnasium, the Longhorns suffered a one-point loss to the Owls, 42–41, to see their hopes of winning a second consecutive outright SWC championship dashed and their chances of even sharing the championship greatly diminished. Another painful defeat followed in the final game of the season, as the Longhorns fell to a 10–11 Texas A&M team in College Station, 53–52, on a long running shot from the Aggies' backup center in the final seconds. [52] [53] Texas finished 18–5 with no invitation to a postseason tournament. The Premo-Porretta Power Poll retroactively assigned the 1939–40 Longhorn team a national ranking of No. 17.

After his next two teams combined for a 28–19 overall record and a 12–12 record in conference play, Gray was notified of his acceptance for duty in the Navy in April 1942, four months after the United States had entered the Second World War. Gray's assistant Ed Price had also left for naval service. Longhorn football assistant coach Howard "Bully" Gilstrap was appointed to coach the team for the duration of the war. [55] [56]

Gilstrap as interim head coach (1942–45) Edit

In addition to both coaches, three starters from the 1941–42 team had departed for service in the war. Accordingly, expectations for the 1942–43 Longhorns were low. [57] Despite losses of coaches and players that were projected as insurmountable hardships, Texas defied expectations, winning 13 of its first 16 games. Gilstrap credited Gray and Price with encouragement and advice from afar and his players with a degree of cooperation he said he had not seen before. Gilstrap explained, "There were a lot of things I didn't know about the system, and the boys realized that. They came to the rescue. They've been assistant coaches as well as players. We've just been trying to work it out together." [58] After stumbling on a swing through North Texas late in the season with losses to TCU and SMU, the Longhorns concluded the regular season with victories over the Baylor Bears and Texas A&M to win a share of the SWC championship and qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the second time. The Longhorns drew the Tournament co-favorite Washington Huskies for their first game. [59] After falling behind by 13 points in the first half, Texas came back to win 59–55 behind 30 points from John Hargis and 15 from Buck Overall to advance to its first-ever Final Four, where it drew the other Tournament co-favorite, the Wyoming Cowboys. [60] It was then the Longhorns who surrendered an early 13-point lead, as the bigger and stronger Cowboys regrouped to win 58–54, on their way to defeating the Georgetown Hoyas 46–34 for the NCAA championship. [59] [60] Texas finished the season with a 19–7 overall record.

Following the 1943–44 and 1944–45 seasons, in which Gilstrap's Longhorn teams posted overall records of 14–11 and 10–10, respectively, Jack Gray returned as head coach with the end of the Pacific War in August 1945. [61]

Post-war Jack Gray years (1945–51) Edit

Gray took charge of a 1945–46 Texas team that returned only five lettermen—none of whom had ever played under him—and which had very little size, as both forward John Hargis and Robert Summers would be out for the entire season. [62] Little was expected of the Longhorns that season, but Texas managed to win its first seven games. The team's grave liabilities in defense and rebounding against bigger teams were never more evident that year than against defending—and soon-to-be-repeating—national champion Oklahoma A&M (later renamed Oklahoma State University) and its 7'0" All-American center, Bob "Foothills" Kurland. Kurland and the Aggies (later known as the Cowboys) dominated the diminutive Longhorns from start to finish, winning 69–34 in the opening round of the eight-team All-College Tournament in Oklahoma City. The Longhorns dropped the second game of the tournament to fellow SWC member Rice, 55–52. The Longhorns opened a new season of SWC play with a road win over TCU. Texas was not expected to fare significantly better in two consecutive games against the towering Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville than it had against Oklahoma A&M. The Longhorns acquitted themselves well in a close loss in the first game, 55–47, but the pre-game prognostications came to fruition the following night, as Arkansas routed Texas 90–63 in the second contest. After having lost four of five games, Texas posted an 8–3 record in its final 11 contests to finish with a respectable mark of 16–7 and a third-place conference finish, significantly exceeding preseason expectations for the undersized 1945–46 team. [63] [64]

Discussions had begun about the projected need to build a larger arena for UT basketball team. [63] Longhorn basketball had grown significantly in popularity under Gray and Gilstrap's guidance. [65] Sellouts had not been particularly common during the war years, but the University was growing rapidly, and if Texas basketball continued to achieve success, a looming capacity problem was clearly foreseeable. Football and basketball were growing in popularity nationwide, and a spending and building boom was expected to take place in athletics departments around the country. No specific plans for basketball took shape at UT, but discussions of a larger gym or arena continued over the next three years. [66]

Returning all but one all but one top player and adding some military veterans and players from the freshman team, Gray's 1946–47 Texas team was thought to have a legitimate chance of winning the SWC championship, along with Arkansas, SMU, and defending SWC champion Baylor. [67] Future Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame member and five-time NBA champion guard Slater Martin and forward John Hargis returned to the team to join guards Roy Cox and Al Madsen, who had returned the previous season. All four men, along with three other of that year's letterwinners, had served in the war. Martin, Cox, and Madsen were dubbed the "Mighty Mice." [67] Though the return of Hargis helped, the Longhorns were again a team not possessed of great size, but they did possess great speed and scoring ability. The Longhorns began the season with four blowout wins, the last and closest coming by a score of 46–34 against the Continental Air Liners of Denver. The game against the Air Liners was the last game Texas would play against a semi-professional team, once a routine component of the nonconference schedule, until the 1955–56 season. [67] [68] Not content to play only overmatched local teams for the remainder of the nonconference slate, Gray wanted to harden his team for the season ahead, and the Longhorns next embarked upon a 10-day, 4,000-mile train trip to face Canisius in Buffalo, Long Island in New York City, and DePaul in Chicago. [67] Texas defeated Canisius 52–46 before traveling to New York for the most-anticipated contest of the trip, the game in Madison Square Garden against Clair Bee's LIU Blackbirds, who were averaging 90 points per game and had recently defeated defending national champion Oklahoma A&M. In front of a strongly pro-LIU crowd of 18,453, the Longhorns upset the Blackbirds, 47–46. Texas next traveled to Chicago to face the DePaul Blue Demons of Ray Meyer, whose team had won the NIT two years earlier, and won the final game of their road trip in a rout, 61–43. [69] Before returning to Austin, the 7–0 Longhorns stopped in Oklahoma City to play in the All-College Tournament. Texas dominated the Missouri Tigers 65–46 before falling to Oklahoma A&M, the two-time defending national champion, in the semifinal by a single point, 40–39. The Longhorns defeated the Oklahoma Sooners in the third-place game the following night by a score of 62–50. [70] Texas was only occasionally challenged during the remainder of the regular season, winning its three remaining nonconference games by 29, 24, and 12 points and seven of its first 10 conference games by 12 or more points (and the first 10 SWC contests by an average of 16.6 points). [71] The Longhorns entered the final weekend of the conference season needing only one win in two games against the second-place Razorbacks. In front of more than 8,000 fans at Gregory Gym, Arkansas led for most of the first game before Slater Martin led a late surge to secure the win and the outright conference championship for Texas, 49–44. [72] The pressure to win the SWC championship thus relieved, the Longhorns easily dispatched the Razorbacks the following night, 66–46, to finish the regular season 24–1 overall and 12–0 in SWC play for their first undefeated conference season since Doc Stewart's 1923–24 team finished 23–0. Texas traveled to Kansas City to face Wyoming in the first game of the NCAA Tournament. Four players from each team had been on the 1943 teams that faced off in the Final Four on Wyoming's way to the NCAA championship. [72] Texas trailed until the final minutes of the second matchup, and Martin's long shot with 35 seconds remaining provided the margin of victory, with the Longhorns winning 42–40 to advance to the Final Four for the second time, where they would face Oklahoma. Despite having defeated the Sooners earlier in the season by 12 points, the Longhorns trailed 53–49 in the final minute of their second contest. Texas scored five points to take a 54–53 lead with seconds remaining, but OU scored on a 40-foot shot as time expired to deafeat the Longhorns, 55–54. [72] Texas returned to Madison Square Garden to play the City College of New York in the national third-place game prior to the NCAA championship game between OU and Holy Cross (won by the Crusaders, 58–47). [72] Texas defeated CCNY 54–50 to finish the season with 26 wins and two last-second, one-point defeats. [54]

With demand for tickets outstripping the seating capacity of Gregory Gym, calls began to grow louder for the construction of a new arena. At the same time, a group of Austin businessmen announced plans for the construction of a 10,000-seat arena adjacent to soon-to-be-built Interregional Highway, the precursor to Interstate 35, and 23rd Street and East Avenue—plans which ultimately did not bear fruit. [70] During the following season, members of the UT Development Board met with several dozen prominent alumni to discuss plans for the construction of a 20,000-seat coliseum, at a cost of roughly $2 million, to be located south of Memorial Stadium. UT architects had already begun to draw up designs for such an arena, but the effort did not progress beyond the planning stages. [73]

Slater Martin and Al Madsen returned to the 1947–48 Longhorn team, among others, but this team was short on depth compared to the previous season's Final Four team, with only seven players in Gray's rotation. For the first time in six years, freshmen were barred from playing on the varsity team. [74] Texas started the season 6–0—highlighted by a 51–42 win over the Texas Tech Red Raiders and a 51–30 blowout of the LSU Tigers, who proved too slow to handle the speed of another fast and quick Longhorn team—before embarking on another road trip to the Northeast, stopping in New York for the third time in two seasons. In a rematch of the previous season's national third-place game, Texas faced the CCNY Beavers in Madison Square Garden. Texas surrendered an 18-point first-half lead but withstood a late CCNY rally, holding on to win, 61–59. [74] Texas defeated the St. Joseph's Hawks in Philadelphia, 61–57, before returning to Oklahoma City for the All-College Tournament. There the Longhorns defeated the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets by a score of 54–45 and the Alabama Crimson Tide, 40–31, to advance to the title game against Oklahoma A&M. For the second consecutive year, the Aggies defeated the Longhorns by a single point, 32–31, after Bob Harris again provided the winning margin in the final five seconds. [73] Texas opened conference play 5–0, pushing its overall record to 16–1, before suffering three consecutive losses to Baylor, Rice, and Arkansas to see its prospects for defending its SWC crown dashed. The Longhorns recovered to win the second game against the Razorbacks in their weekend trip to Fayetteville, 54–43, to halt the losing streak. By the time of the Longhorns' next contest, against Baylor, the Bears stood at 11–0 in conference play and had already secured the SWC championship. Although Texas could do no better than second place, more than 8,000 fans squeezed into 7,500-seat Gregory Gym to see the Longhorns hand the Bears their only defeat of the conference season, 32–29, after Al Madsen added a layup and a free throw in the final 20 seconds. [75] The win over Baylor landed Texas an invitation to the 1948 NIT with two conference games remaining. [75] (Baylor would go on to advance to the championship game of the 1948 NCAA Tournament, where the Bears fell to Adolph Rupp's Kentucky Wildcats in the first NCAA championship game appearance for either program.) Texas narrowly avoided an upset loss to SMU at home before blowing out Texas A&M in College Station, 54–34, to finish 9–3 and in second place in the SWC play. The Longhorns boarded a train for New York the following morning to face the favored Violets of New York University, led by future fourth overall 1948 draft pick, 16-year NBA star, and Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame member Dolph Schayes. Martin and Madsen led Texas to a 43–39 lead with under four minutes remaining—after Texas had trailed by seven points midway through the second half—but NYU tied the game in the final minute and scored the final basket on a long shot with six seconds remaining to win the quarterfinals game, 45–43. [75] The Longhorns finished the season 20–5, marking the first time in program history that Texas had won 20 or more games in consecutive seasons. [8]

Texas recedes from the national stage (1951–76) Edit

After two losing seasons during the program's first five years, Texas suffered only one losing season from 1912 to 1950, reaching two Final Fours and one Elite Eight during the first decade of the NCAA Tournament. The Longhorns would finish with losing records ten times from 1951 to 1976. [8]

Abrupt decline (1951–59) Edit

Thurman "Slue" Hull was hired as men's basketball head coach prior to the 1951–52 season. In his five seasons as the Texas head coach, Hull led the Longhorns to one Southwest Conference championship (1953–54) and finished with an overall record of 60–58 (.508). He was dismissed following the 1955–56 season after his final two teams produced a combined record of 16–32—easily the worst two-year period in the history of Longhorn basketball to that point. Hull was the first Texas coach since W. E. Metzenthin, who coached the basketball team for three years during the program's first five seasons (1909–11), to finish with a Texas career win percentage below .600. [10]

Following Hull's dismissal, Marshall Hughes was hired as the next men's basketball head coach prior to the 1956–57 season. Under Hughes, the Texas basketball program reached the nadir of its existence. Hughes was fired after only three seasons—each with a losing record, and each worse than the one preceding it—with an overall record of 25–46 (.352) after his final team posted a mark of just 4–20, tying the 1954–55 season as the then-worst in program history and concluding a five-year span of futility in which the Longhorns produced an overall record of 41–78 (.345). [76]

Uneven recovery (1959–67) Edit

Between coaches Harold Bradley, hired as head coach in 1959, and Leon Black, who directed the basketball team from 1967 to 1976, the Longhorns played in four NCAA Tournaments, two under each coach, as a result of winning the Southwest Conference five times (three times outright) in 17 years. [8]

In Bradley's first season, the Longhorns won the SWC outright to reach the 1960 NCAA Tournament, where they fell to the Kansas Jayhawks by a score of 80–71 in the Sweet Sixteen contest. Texas subsequently lost the Midwest Regional third-place game to DePaul by a score of 67–61. Texas finished the season ranked No. 13 in the UPI Coaches Poll, marking the first time that the basketball team had finished the season ranked since the introduction of the AP Poll and the Coaches Poll for the 1948–49 and 1950–51 seasons, respectively. [77]

Bradley's 1962–63 team again won the SWC outright and reached 20 wins for the first time since Jack Gray's 1947–48 Longhorns. Texas advanced to the NCAA Tournament and defeated the Texas Western Miners by a score of 65–47 in its opening game to advance to the Sweet Sixteen, where the Longhorns fell 73–68 to Ed Jucker's defending two-time national champion and fifth-consecutive Final Four participant Cincinnati Bearcats. [78] Texas would go on to win the Midwest Regional third-place game against future Texas head coach Abe Lemons' Oklahoma City Chiefs by a score of 90–81. The Longhorns finished the season ranked No. 12 in the Coaches Poll. [79]

The 1964–65 Longhorns tied SMU for the conference championship but lost the tiebreaker for the conference's NCAA Tournament berth and thus did not participate in postseason play. In the following two seasons, Bradley's Texas teams posted overall records of 12–12 and 14–10. Bradley retired following the 1966–67 season. [80] [81] He finished with an overall record of 123–75 (.631) and a conference record of 73–39 (.651) as Texas head coach. [10]

Resumed decline (1967–76) Edit

With the hiring of Leon Black prior to the 1967–68 season, Texas entered a period that saw the reversal of most of its progress since the lost decade of the 1950s. Black opened with three losing seasons and one non-winning season before his 1971–72 team finished 19–9, won a share of the conference championship, and reached the 1972 NCAA Tournament. [82] The Longhorns defeated the Houston Cougars 85–74 to advance to the Sweet Sixteen, where they fell to the Kansas State Wildcats by a score of 66–55. (This was the final game of the tournament for Texas, as regional third-place games ceased to be held following the 1967 NCAA Tournament.)

After posting a 13–12 overall record in 1972–73, Black's Longhorns recorded three consecutive losing seasons, each with fewer wins and more defeats than the one before. Black's 1973–74 team managed to win the SWC championship outright, even with an overall record of 12–15, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament, where the Longhorns fell to the Creighton Bluejays in the first round, 77–61. [82] [83]

Following 10–15 and 9–17 seasons in 1974–75 and 1975–76, respectively, Black resigned from his position as Texas head coach. [84] Black finished with an overall record of 106–121 (.467) and a record of 63–65 (.492) in conference play. [10] Prior to Black, only two Texas head coaches had finished with overall losing records—W. E. Metzenthin (1909–11) and Marshall Hughes (1956–59)—and each had only coached for three seasons. [10] Black coached for nine seasons, only twice finishing with a winning record. [8]

Abe Lemons years (1976–82) Edit

Following Leon Black's resignation, Texas Athletic Director and Longhorn head football coach Darrell Royal selected then-University of Texas-Pan American and former longtime Oklahoma City University head coach Abe Lemons as his primary target for the open position. [85] Lemons and fellow Oklahoman Royal agreed to a five-year contract worth roughly $30,000 per year, [86] [87] and Lemons was subsequently introduced as the twentieth Longhorn head basketball coach in the program's 72 seasons.

Thanks to his exuberant personality, quick and acerbic wit, and rare quote-making skill, [88] [89] [90] [91] [92] the cigar-smoking Abe Lemons' growing status as a fan favorite anticipated any of his notable accomplishments in basketball at Texas. [93] Though he and his staff inherited two players that would play central roles on his most successful Texas teams in freshman forward and Los Angeles high school player of the year Ron Baxter and sophomore Auburn transfer Jim Krivacs, [87] Lemons was nevertheless assuming control of a moribund program coming off of three consecutive losing seasons, the last of which featured the then-third-most defeats in the history of the program. [8] Lemons was less than sanguine about the Longhorns' prospects for the 1976–77 season. Asked in a preseason media session if he felt his first Texas team to be worthy of a top-twenty ranking, Lemons replied, "You mean in the state?" [94] After starting the season with a 6–9 record, Texas managed a six-game winning streak against some of the conference's weaker teams before stumbling to a 1–4 finish over the final five games. Despite Lemons' dejected mood following the final game of the season, [95] a loss to Baylor in the final men's basketball game in Gregory Gymnasium, his first team had posted a four-game improvement in its season record over the 9–17 squad of the prior year, finishing 13–13 on the season. [8]

No significant preseason expectations attended the 1977–78 Texas Longhorns, a team that would produce one of the more successful seasons in Longhorn basketball history. [96] After a one-point loss in the opening game against Southern California in Los Angeles, Texas inaugurated the $37-million, 16,231-seat Special Events Center with an 83–76 victory over the Oklahoma Sooners, the first of eight straight wins. [96] [97] Texas lost 65–56 to fifth-ranked, defending national champion Marquette before posting another nine straight victories, including a 75–69 upset of third-ranked and eventual Final Four participant Arkansas, with its famed "Triplets" (guards Sidney Moncrief, Ron Brewer, and Marvin Delph). The win over Eddie Sutton's Razorbacks vaulted Lemons' Longhorns to a No. 15 ranking in the Associated Press Poll, Texas' first appearance in the poll since a one-week showing at No. 20 in 1949, the inaugural season of the AP basketball poll. [98] [99] Texas would finish the regular season ranked No. 12 in the AP poll with records of 22–4 overall and 14–2 in conference play, sharing the Southwest Conference Championship with the Razorbacks. [100] Despite the impressive season, Texas saw its hopes of playing in the 32-team NCAA Tournament dashed in a two-point loss to Houston in the SWC Tournament Final. Houston claimed the automatic bid to the Tournament, Arkansas received an at-large bid, and the Longhorns were left to accept a bid to the 1978 National Invitation Tournament. [101] Texas would storm through the tournament to reach the NIT Championship Game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack, defeating Temple, Nebraska, and Rutgers by an average of over 17 points in the first three rounds. The Longhorns posted an easy 101–93 victory over the Wolfpack to win the NIT Championship behind 22, 26, and 33 points, respectively, from point guard Johnny Moore and 1978 NIT Co-MVPs Ron Baxter and Jim Krivacs. [97] [102] After the end of the 1977–78 season, Abe Lemons was named National Coach of the Year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Lemons remains the only men's basketball coach in UT history to earn National Coach of the Year honors. [20] [103]

With its four leading scorers returning, Texas entered the 1978–79 season with a No. 6 ranking in the AP poll and as the near-unanimous favorite to win the SWC championship. [104] The Longhorns struggled early, beginning the season 7–4 and falling out of the AP rankings after a 21-point road defeat to Bill Cartwright and the San Francisco Dons. [97] After another blowout road loss to Texas Tech, Texas regrouped to win three straight road games and 12 of its next 13 games, including a three-point upset of 10th-ranked Arkansas in Fayetteville, a 23-point blowout of Shelby Metcalf's No. 15 Texas A&M Aggies in Austin, and an eight-point win over the 11th-ranked Aggies three weeks later in College Station. [97] During the preceding thirty seasons, Texas had only managed a total of six wins against AP-ranked opponents, and never more than one such victory in a single year. [105] A home loss to 14th-ranked Arkansas was the lone blemish during the 13-game stretch, a game that featured a shouting and shoving episode, famous in SWC lore, between Lemons and Eddie Sutton after Sutton had admonished Texas player Johnny Moore on the court. Police and assistant coaches intervened, but Lemons told the media following the game that if Sutton dared to address his players again, he would "tear his Sunday clothes" and "liquidate his a**." [106] Struggling SMU dealt Texas a shocking defeat in the final game of the regular season, depriving the Longhorns of sole possession of the SWC crown and forcing them to share the conference championship with Arkansas for the second straight season. [107] Following a 39–38 loss to the ninth-ranked Razorbacks in the SWC Tournament Final, Texas received a No. 4 seed and a bye to the second round in the 1979 NCAA Tournament. Texas fell to No. 5-seeded Oklahoma in the tournament to finish the season with a 21–8 overall record and a No. 15 final ranking in the UPI Coaches' Poll. [97] The Longhorns drew an average of 15,886 fans per home game in 1978–79, a school and Erwin Center record that to this point has not been challenged. [11]

The 1979–80 Texas Longhorns returned only one starter, forward Ron Baxter. [108] LaSalle Thompson, 6'10" center and future Longhorn great, joined the program as a freshman. [108] Texas ended the regular season with an 18–10 overall record and a 10–6 conference record, [97] finishing third behind Texas A&M and Arkansas in SWC play. Passed over by the NCAA Tournament selection committee, Texas received a bid to the 1980 NIT, the last postseason tournament a Lemons-coached Texas team would reach. [109] The Longhorns posted a 70–61 win over St. Joseph's before falling to Southwestern Louisiana, 77–76, in the second round to finish with a 19–11 overall record. Baxter, the 1980 Southwest Conference Player of the Year, [110] finished his UT career as the then-all-time school leader in both scoring and rebounding. [111]

The 1980–81 Longhorn team carried little in the way of preseason expectations of success. Even before the season began, the program was embroiled in controversy and turmoil. Lemons had summarily fired assistant Steve Moeller, leading to a caustic public feud between the two men, with each blaming the other for recent disappointing recruiting results. Moeller charged that Lemons' lack of inhibition with regard to public and private criticism of players was damaging the program. Only one of the four players signed in the 1981 class—6'9" forward Mike Wacker—was considered a coveted prospect. Texas opened with a home loss to Pacific. The regular season's zenith, a two-point win over Arkansas in Fayetteville on January 12, did nothing to reverse the team's downward trajectory, with losses to TCU, SMU, North Texas, Rice following shortly thereafter. The Longhorns stumbled to a 10–14 overall record with two conference games remaining. Lemons' habitual sarcasm and indiscriminately acid tongue, heretofore endearing to fans if not academic administrators, began to draw criticism, with some citing his routinely quippish comments as evidence that he failed to take his team's poor performance sufficiently seriously. [112] Nonetheless, just as Lemons began to face notable fan frustration and criticism for the first time at Texas, his team began an unexpected run of late-season success. Lemons' team managed to win the two remaining regular season games as well as three of four games in the SWC Tournament—including a 76–73 victory over No. 15 Arkansas in the semifinal round—to avoid finishing with a losing record. The end-of-season success quelled discontent for the time being, with fans and commentators pointing to the return of LaSalle Thompson, Mike Wacker, and a healthier and more experienced supporting cast as reason for renewed confidence about the near future and optimism about the program's prospects. [112]

While his teams' records and performance had declined since the 1977–78 season, Lemons was not thought to be in danger of losing his job as he entered the 1981–82 season, the first year for new Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds and Lemons' last at Texas. Preseason expectations had Texas posting improvement over the prior season, but the 1981–82 Longhorns were nonetheless not expected to challenge for Southwest Conference supremacy. Texas began the season unranked, only entering the January 12 AP Poll at No. 19 after winning the first ten games of the season. Consecutive double-digit wins over No. 10 and eventual Final Four participant Houston at Hofheinz Pavilion and No. 9 Arkansas in Austin vaulted Texas to No. 7 in the following poll. An 88–71 nationally televised win over South Carolina the following week moved Texas to No. 5 in the AP Poll, the then-highest ranking in program history. Keyed by the performance of 1982 All-American, national rebounding champion, and eventual fifth overall 1982 NBA draft pick LaSalle Thompson and the much-improved sophomore forward Mike Wacker, the Longhorns had started the season with a record of 14–0, then the program's finest season start in the NCAA Tournament era. Two weeks and five losses later, the Longhorns would drop from the polls altogether. The loss of Wacker to a devastating knee injury in the first half of a 69–59 loss to Baylor, the Longhorns' first defeat of the year, disrupted the team's on-court chemistry and confidence and ultimately derailed the season. Texas would win only two of its final 13 games, finishing the season with a 16–11 overall record.

On March 9, eight days after the Longhorns' final game, DeLoss Dodds announced Abe Lemons' firing. Dodds was not specific as to the reasons, vaguely citing a "series of incidents from this and past years, along with the need for new leadership and direction." [89] [113] [114] The news met with surprise and outrage from players and fans. Lemons, who, despite some struggles, had presided over the resurrection of Texas basketball during the preceding six seasons, professed shock. [115] Even with the collapse following Wacker's injury, there had been no indications that his job was in jeopardy. Privately, though, Dodds had faced pressure from important administrators and boosters to dismiss the popular Lemons ever since he had arrived at Texas the prior autumn. [116] A powerful faction of UT officials and donors felt that Lemons was presiding over an undisciplined program and that he had become excessively and irresponsibly outspoken. His refusal to enforce a curfew or to punish players for missing practices, for instance, had already drawn criticism in the past. A lack of academic progress during his time at Texas was another reflection of a shortage of discipline and another cause for embarrassment for UT officials. [117] Only one player that Lemons recruited to Austin graduated during his tenure. [113] [114] Moreover, his sharp-tongued and indiscriminate public insults and criticism of people ranging from UT administrators and faculty to officials and coaches at other schools to SWC administrators and referees had progressively earned Lemons the ill will and resentment of a growing number of people with influence over UT athletics. [118] Lemons remained a popular figure among fans, but his support among administrators and powerful donors had dissipated. Following the end of the season, the UT Office of the President and the Board of Regents directed Dodds to fire Lemons, who had two years at $52,000 per year remaining on his contract. [115] The ousted head coach did not leave quietly, commenting that he wanted a glass-bottomed car so that he could see Dodds' face as he ran him over, and adding, "I hope they notice the mistletoe tied to my coattails as I leave town." Despite the acrimonious parting, Lemons would be invited back to reunions in later years and would eventually be inducted into the Longhorn Hall of Honor in 1994. [113]

Lemons finished with an overall record of 110–63 (.636) and a conference record of 58–38 (.604) as Texas head coach.

Bob Weltlich years (1982–88) Edit

Second-year Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds signaled his determination to change the culture of the basketball program, noting that the next Texas head coach would be expected to oversee significant improvements in players' academic progress and off-court discipline and the near-total elimination of contact between players and boosters. [119] Texas players petitioned in support of Barry Dowd, a long-time Lemons assistant, for the vacant coaching position, but Dodds and UT administrators were intent on severing all connections to the Lemons era. [113] Dodds ultimately chose 37-year-old Bob Weltlich, a former assistant coach under Bob Knight at Army and Indiana who came with Knight's recommendation, from the University of Mississippi to serve as the next Texas men's basketball head coach. Dodds and Weltlich agreed to a five-year contract worth $95,000 per year, and Weltlich was introduced as head coach on April 2, 1982. [113] At his first press conference as Texas head coach, Weltlich remarked that "titles are won with good character—and not characters"—a statement many took to be a swipe at the way Lemons had run the program. [120]

Nicknamed "Kaiser Bob" by Longhorn fans for his harshly disciplinarian approach, [113] Weltlich was almost immediately faced with such a manpower shortage from the departures—both voluntary and involuntary—of so many Texas players that he famously had to press Texas male cheerleader Lance Watson into service during the Longhorns' abysmal 6–22 season of 1982–83. [117] [121] [122] LaSalle Thompson, who was considering bypassing his senior season but was as yet undecided at the time Weltlich was hired, ultimately left for the 1982 NBA draft. [123] More than a dozen Longhorn players would leave the program during Weltlich's first three years, and several would make negative comments about his grueling practices and his reliance on criticism and insults as a motivational tactic upon departing. [120] Some players who remained publicly defended Weltlich and his methods. After the new coach's first season, junior forward Bill Wendlandt commented that he believed he had gained mental discipline that he had previously lacked. [124] Nevertheless, even Wendlandt would leave the program after the fall semester of his senior year. [117]

Of the 1982–83 Longhorn team's six wins, only three came against NCAA Division I opponents—two in non-conference play against Harvard and UNC Charlotte, and one in conference play against Rice in Austin, 47–45. The Longhorns' 15 losses in the conference regular season came by an average of 22.5 points. The season witnessed Texas's fourth, fifth, eleventh, and thirteenth most-lopsided defeats ever—a 106–63 loss to the No. 4 Cougars in Houston, a 96–59 defeat to Texas A&M in College Station, a 76–43 defeat at the hands of Baylor in Waco, and an 82–48 loss to TCU in Fort Worth. Following the 34-point loss to the Horned Frogs, Weltlich savaged his players in public comments, calling them "as phony as the day is long." [125] Texas ended the season with losses in 17 of its last 18 games and with a 13-game losing streak. The Longhorns' 6–22 overall record and 1–15 mark in SWC play represent what remain the most total and conference losses incurred in one season in program history.

Weltlich's next three teams posted yearly improvements in overall records, although the 1983–84 Longhorns did so by the margin of a single game over the prior year, finishing the season 7–21. Texas managed four wins against Division I competition, with a 62–61 road win over Utah in non-conference play, to end a 21-game road losing streak, and three wins against conference competition—two against Baylor and one over Rice. The Longhorns were also generally more competitive in their many defeats, with their 13 SWC losses coming by an average of 15.0 points, for a one-third reduction in the average margin of defeat from the previous season. Texas played respectably in two losses to eventual second-consecutive national runner-up Houston, losing by 11 to the No. 7 Cougars in Houston and by the same margin to No. 5 Houston in Austin. After trailing 19th-ranked Arkansas 45–27 at halftime in Austin, Texas narrowed the Razorbacks' lead to 68–66 in the final minute before Arkansas added two final points to secure the win. [126] Nonetheless, the 1983–84 season saw a number of particularly lopsided defeats, with a 103–72 loss to SMU and a 74–47 loss to Texas Tech representing what remain the third- and ninth-worst home losses in program history. As fan criticism of Weltlich began to mount, Dodds professed to be "losing no sleep over basketball at UT" and said, "I don't think there's any question that the direction Bob has taken is the right one. No one expected this to be easy." [117]

Though defections would continue for the remainder of Weltlich's tenure, the pace of the exodus had slowed considerably, and the team's roster began to accumulate a semblance of stability, depth, and experience by the start of his third season as head coach. Weltlich stated before the season began that his third Texas would be "vastly improved" over the previous two. [127] The 1984–85 Longhorn team would more than double the win total of the previous year's team, posting 15–13 overall and 7–9 conference records. The Longhorns were also significantly more competitive in almost every game they played. Texas lost a hard-fought contest to No. 9 LSU in Baton Rouge in the third game of the season, 87–79, and battled eventual SWC champion SMU closely during the conference season, falling 54–46 to the No. 3 Mustangs in Austin and 64–60 to No. 9 SMU in the second-to-last game of the conference slate. Of the Longhorns' 12 regular-season losses, only two came by margins greater than nine points (with 14 points being the largest margin of defeat). Texas also achieved its first victory over an NCAA Tournament-bound team under Weltlich, defeating Pac-10 Conference champion Southern California in the final game of the regular season, 71–70. The Longhorns were genuinely uncompetitive only in their final game of the year, a 66–46 loss to Arkansas in the SWC Tournament.

The 1985–86 team—which finished with a 19–12 overall record and a share of the SWC championship—marked the zenith of Weltlich's tenure at Texas. The Longhorns posted a 3–2 record in their first five games, losing on the road 67–66 to South Alabama and in an 84–62 blowout at Southern California. After a home win over Oral Roberts, the Longhorns traveled to Norman to face an eighth-ranked and 7–0 Oklahoma. Texas pushed the Sooners to overtime and led 90–89 with 28 seconds remaining, but an OU steal and two subsequent scores led the Sooners to a 93–92 win. Weltlich bemoaned his team's decision-making in the backcourt, commenting in the postgame press conference, "We've lost our last two road games in the last second, and we haven't learned from it." [128] Texas returned from Norman at 3–3 to face faced ninth-ranked and 7–0 LSU in Austin. The Longhorns led 35–28 at halftime, but the Tigers recovered to win, 72–65. LSU head coach Dale Brown described the game as his team's most difficult to date and the Texas team as sound in fundamentals. [129] After two more home wins, Texas traveled to Atlanta to play in the Cotton States Classic. After a 35-point loss to No. 7 Georgia Tech in the opening round—in what remains the second-largest margin of defeat in a neutral-site game in program history—Texas posted its third one-point loss of the season in the consolation game against 20th-ranked DePaul, falling 63–62. The Longhorns had again built and then surrendered an early lead, having opened a 10-point advantage over the Blue Demons in the first half. [130] [131] Texas opened conference play with four consecutive wins, including its first win over Arkansas under Weltlich, before falling 55–54 to the Texas A&M Aggies in College Station. After a 63–56 loss to SMU in Dallas, Texas won eight consecutive conference contests, including a 61–57 win over Arkansas in Fayetteville–Texas's first win at Barnhill Arena since 1981–completing Texas's first season sweep of the Razorbacks since 1974. On February 15, Texas recorded its first sold-out home game since Abe Lemons' final year as head coach in a 58–47 win over Texas A&M. [132] The Longhorns suffered their fifth one-point defeat of the season against TCU in Dallas in their penultimate conference game, falling 55–54 as Horned Frog guard Jamie Dixon scored on an off-balance, 30-foot jump shot at the buzzer. [133] Texas followed up the loss to TCU with its sixth one-point loss of the season—and third out of four total losses in SWC games—against Texas Tech in Austin in the conference finale to surrender sole possession of first place in conference play and ultimately share the SWC championship with TCU and Texas A&M. After a semifinal loss to A&M in the conference tournament, the Longhorns were invited to the 1986 NIT—the Longhorns first postseason appearance under Weltlich, and the first since the 1979–80 season. Texas defeated New Mexico in the first round, 69–66, before falling to eventual NIT champion Ohio State in the second round, 71–65.

The Longhorns opened the 1986–87 season with a one-point loss to No. 17 North Carolina State, 69–68, and an 80–68 loss to Alaska Anchorage. In its third game of the season, Texas stunned No. 2-ranked and defending national champion Louisville, 74–70, the highest-ranked opponent the Longhorns had defeated in school history. [134] The victory presaged little about the season to come, however, as Texas finished 14–17 overall and 7–9 in SWC contests, for its third losing season in five seasons under Weltlich. Six of the Longhorns' seven victories in conference play came by five points or fewer, while six of the nine conference losses came by 10 points or more.

For the first time since the 1974–75 season, Leon Black's second to last as head coach, Texas faced no ranked opponents during the 1987–88 season. [109] Nonetheless, the Longhorns finished 6–6 in non-conference play, losing to all three eventual NCAA Tournament participants they faced—falling 100–83 at Iowa State, 80–75 at home to Utah State, and 71–70 at Chattanooga—and losing 86–74 at home to New Mexico, the one eventual NIT participant they faced. Texas suffered its most lopsided non-conference defeat, 85–56, on the road at the hands of a Miami (FL) team that would miss the postseason entirely. Texas posted a 10–6 record in SWC play, tying for fourth place, and lost the first game of the conference tournament to Houston, 72–57. For the fifth time in Weltlich's six seasons, Texas failed to advance to a postseason tournament. Four days after the loss to Houston, Weltlich was dismissed with two years remaining on his contract. [135] [2] [136]

Weltlich compiled a 77–98 (.440) record during six seasons as the head coach at Texas. None of his six teams managed an appearance in the NCAA Tournament only the 1985–86 team participated in postseason competition, losing in the second round of the NIT. [137] With the combination of poor overall results and an ultra-slow-tempo style of play that fans found unappealing, attendance plummeted from the lofty marks achieved during the tenure of the popular Lemons to an average of barely more than 4,000 fans per game during Weltlich's final season (far below the turnout for Jody Conradt's Lady Longhorns teams at that time). [138] [139] [140] [141]

Tom Penders era (1988–98) Edit

Hired from the University of Rhode Island on April 6, 1988 to replace Weltlich as the Texas head coach, Tom Penders rapidly revitalized the moribund Longhorn basketball program. [142] [143] Months before coaching in his first game at Texas, Penders set about reviving fan enthusiasm for Longhorn men's basketball. He canvassed the state, speaking to every University of Texas alumni chapter and booster club in Texas. [144] Penders called his team the "Runnin' Horns," and he promised an exciting, fast-paced style of play that would stand in stark contrast to the basketball on display during the prior six seasons. [138] [139] [145] [146] Early on, Penders promised Texas fans, "We'll run after made shots, missed shots, turnovers, timeouts, TV timeouts, you name it. We'll run and pressure and play 94 feet of defense." [147]

Unlike his entrance, Weltlich's departure did not result in an exodus of players from the program. Penders' first team returned four starters from the previous season, and two talented transfers—Lance Blanks and Joey Wright—gained eligibility, giving Texas a starting five with three future NBA Draft picks and a fourth starter who would play in the NBA. [148] [149] [150] [151] Penders led his first team to a 25–9 overall record, marking the first 20-win season in ten years at Texas and the then-second-highest win total in school history. He quickly validated his promise to bring high-scoring offense to Texas: in the first nine games of the 1988–89 season, the Longhorns scored more than 100 points five times. In Bob Weltlich's 175 games as head coach, Texas had never scored 100 or more points in a game—and had only scored 90 or more points on four occasions (twice requiring an overtime period to reach that mark). [152] [153] The Longhorns opened the season with an 8–1 record before traveling to Oklahoma City to compete in the four-team All-College Tournament. Texas players openly marveled at the wholesale change in coaching philosophy from prior seasons to one that now encouraged them to shoot in large volumes, and some expressed eagerness to see how they would fare against elite competition with their new style of play. [154] Texas defeated the OSU Cowboys 85–84 in the first contest behind 32 points from sophomore guard Joey Wright and two late free throws from junior guard Lance Blanks, [155] who had transferred from Virginia. [156] The win matched Texas in the tournament final against a high-scoring, sixth-ranked Oklahoma Sooners team only nine months removed from a four-point loss as a prohibitive favorite in the 1988 national championship game. Billy Tubbs' Sooners revealed the distance that remained between Texas and college basketball's elite teams, building a 63–37 halftime lead en route to an easy 124–95 win. [157] Texas won six games in conference play by five or fewer points to finish in second place in the SWC with a 12–4 record, with two losses to Arkansas and one loss apiece to Houston and Texas A&M. Interspersed among the conference contests were games against NCAA Tournament-bound Vanderbilt, which Texas lost by a score of 94–79, and Miami (FL), which the Longhorns won easily, 123–104. Texas defeated both SMU and TCU in overtime in the SWC Tournament to advance to the final, in which Arkansas defeated the Longhorns for the third time in 10 weeks. Texas was subsequently selected as a No. 11 seed to play in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 10 seasons, where the Longhorns would defeat the sixth-seeded Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 76–70, for the program's first NCAA Tournament victory since 1972. Texas fell in the second round to the sixth-ranked and third-seeded Missouri Tigers, 108–89, to end the season at 25–9, a nine-win improvement over Weltlich's final season. The Longhorns' on-court success—in combination with Penders' appealing, fast-tempo brand of basketball and his tireless promotion of the Texas program—produced a rise in average home attendance from the prior season of almost 149 percent (from 4,028 to 10,011), the largest such increase in NCAA Division I basketball for the 1988–89 season. [138] [158]

For the 1989–90 season, Texas returned its high-scoring trio of guards, Lance Blanks, 1989 SWC player of the year Travis Mays, and Joey Wright—dubbed "BMW—the ultimate scoring machine" by the Texas sports information department and labeled the third-best set of guards in the country by Dick Vitale. [156] [159] Penders' second team finished 24–9 and qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year—a first in Longhorn basketball history—and for only the second time since the Tournament field expanded to 64 teams. Texas defeated No. 24 Florida in Austin, 105–94, in the fifth game of the season for its first win against ranked competition under Penders. The Longhorns would go on to lose their remaining regular-season contests against ranked opponents—to Shaquille O'Neal, Stanley Roberts, and No. 11 LSU in a neutral-site contest, 124–113 to No. 4 Oklahoma in Norman, 103–84 to No. 6 Arkansas in Fayetteville, 109–100, in a game that saw Mays depart in the first minutes due to a finger injury and, finally, to No. 3 Arkansas in overtime in Austin, 103–96, in a famously bitter defeat that became known in UT lore as the "Strollin' Nolan" game. [160] [161] [162] The Longhorns led by one point with 14 seconds remaining when Arkansas head coach Nolan Richardson, after an intentional foul call against a Razorback player, slowly walked off the court to the Arkansas locker room. [162] [163] [164] The SWC officiating crew did not assess a technical foul against Richardson for leaving the court—a decision that the NCAA's chief rules interpreter would label a mistake. [165] Nonetheless, Texas appeared to have the game in hand—leading by three, after Blanks made two free throws—until Arkansas's Lee Mayberry, the national leader in three-point field goal percentage, made a contested 30-foot shot with four seconds remaining to tie the game at 86–86 and send the game into overtime. Richardson then returned to the court, eliciting a resounding chorus of boos from the crowd, and Arkansas outscored Texas 17–10 in the overtime period to claim the win. [163] [166] Two losses to Houston left Texas with a 12–4 record and third-place finish in conference play. The Longhorns added wins against Rhode Island—the team Penders had coached before being hired by Texas—and DePaul during the regular season. Against Rhode Island, Travis Mays surpassed Ron Baxter's career scoring total to become the then-leading scorer in UT history. [166] After their third win that season over Texas A&M in the SWC Tournament, the Longhorns would fall to Houston for the third time, 89–86. At 21–8, Texas was awarded a No. 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament. After an easy 100–88 win over the No. 7-seed Georgia Bulldogs, the Longhorns upset Gene Keady's No. 2-seeded Purdue Boilermakers, 73–72, to advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in 18 seasons. With a come-from-behind 102–89 win against the 28–4 Xavier Musketeers—in which Blanks, Mays, and Wright combined for 86 points—Texas advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in 43 years to face its SWC archrival, the Arkansas Razorbacks, for the third time that season. Trailing by 16 points with 12 minutes remaining, the Longhorns mounted a comeback that fell just short, falling 88–85 as Travis Mays' last-second three-point attempt came off the rim. [161] Mays finished the season as the Southwest Conference's all-time leading scorer, with 2,279 career points. [167] Texas was ranked No. 12 in the post-Tournament Coaches Poll, matching the 1962–63 team for the highest end-of-season poll ranking in program history.

Mays and Blanks having been selected in the first round of the 1990 NBA draft, the Longhorns entered the 1990–91 season without two-thirds of the Elite Eight team's "BMW scoring machine." Even so, Texas received a preseason AP ranking of No. 22, and Penders' third team finished with a 23–9 overall record, advancing to the NCAA Tournament and finishing with 23 or more wins for the third consecutive year. After opening with a win over Florida in Gainesville, Texas fell to No. 20 LSU in Baton Rouge, 101–87, and No. 16 OU in Austin, 96–88. Texas remained ranked until losing to No. 17 Georgia in Athens three weeks later. The Longhorns would defeat Steve Fisher's Michigan Wolverines, 76–74, and fall to a Tournament-bound Arizona State team, 89–82, before beginning conference play. After a 101–89 road loss to No. 2 Arkansas, Texas won ten straight games—nine over SWC opponents and one over DePaul—to Texas resurface in the AP Poll for one week in mid-February at No. 24. Penders finally ended both a personal and program seven-game losing streak to Arkansas in the final game of the conference regular season with the Longhorns' 99–86 win over the No. 3 Razorbacks in Austin, which gave Texas a 13–3 record and second-place finish in conference play. Texas would fall to Arkansas six days later in the SWC Tournament final—the last meeting between the Longhorns and the SEC-bound Razorbacks as conference archrivals. Texas nonetheless ended the season ranked No. 23 in the final AP Poll, for the Longhorns' first appearance in the final AP Poll since the 1978 NIT Championship team, and for only the second time in program history. Texas received a No. 5 seed in the 1991 NCAA Tournament, and the Longhorns would advance from the first round for the third consecutive year before falling 84–76 to fourth-seeded St. John's in the second round, which made 61 percent of its shots—and 71.4 percent of its first-half shots—while holding Texas to just 40 percent in field-goal percentage. [168] [169]

While the departure of Arkansas would hasten the demise of the SWC altogether in the longer term, it immediately consigned the conference—one not regarded as a significant player in college basketball for several decades—to virtual irrelevance in the college basketball landscape. Texas would play just three games against ranked conference opponents—all against the same team, and all occurring in the same season—in the remaining five seasons of the league's existence. Houston was the only remaining program that had resided among the nation's elite in recent years, but the Guy Lewis era had ended six years prior, and UH had only advanced to the NCAA Tournament twice—winning no games on either occasion—since its famed "Phi Slama Jama" teams had reached three consecutive Final Fours and two national championship games from 1982 to 1984. Penders' revived Texas program, by default, became the weakened SWC's bell cow, winning or sharing three of the final five SWC championships.

Texas quickly took advantage of Arkansas's absence, as Penders' 1991–92 team finished with a 23–12 overall record, for his fourth consecutive season of 23 or more wins, and a share of the SWC championship. Although Texas had lost leading scorer and eventual second-round NBA draft pick Joey Wright and first-team all-SWC forward and second-leading scorer Locksley Collie to graduation, the Longhorns added transfer guard and eventual first-round draft pick B. J. Tyler and freshman guard Terrence Rencher, a prolific scorer who would receive first-team all-SWC honors as a freshman and hold several program and conference records by the end of his senior year. The Longhorns opened the season with wins over Washington and Princeton in the Preseason NIT in New York City, before falling to No. 18 Georgia Tech and No. 24 Pittsburgh in the semifinal and third-place games by scores of 120–107 and 91–87, respectively. Texas defeated non-conference opponents Clemson and Georgia over the course of the season, but fell to No. 17 Oklahoma in Norman, 109–106 No. 8 Connecticut in Austin, 94–77 unranked UTEP in El Paso, 92–88 unranked LSU in New Orleans by a score of 84–83 and unranked Rhode Island in Providence by a score of 92–79. The Longhorns nonetheless compiled an 11–3 conference record—losing road contests to TCU, Baylor, and Rice—to share the SWC championship with Houston. Texas defeated Texas A&M and Texas Tech in the SWC Tournament to advance to the final against Houston. Despite having won both regular season games against the Cougars, the Longhorns were uncompetitive in a 91–72 loss in their third contest. Texas was subsequently selected as a No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Longhorns lost to the Iowa Hawkeyes in the opening game by a score of 98–92, marking the only time in eight first-round NCAA Tournament contests under Penders that Texas would fail to advance to the second round.

Following 95 wins in Penders' first four seasons at Texas—with never fewer than 23 wins in a single season—an injury-plagued 1992–93 season saw Texas struggle to an 11–17 overall record and a 4–10 record and seventh-place finish in the eight-team SWC. Point guard B. J. Tyler—a key offensive player both as a scorer and as a facilitator, having averaged 18.3 points and 6.5 assists as a sophomore in 1991–92—would miss the majority of the season. Forward-center Albert Burditt—who led the 1991–92 team in rebounds and blocks—would average 14.9 points, 14.1 rebounds, and 4.2 blocks per contest in the 1992–93 season, but would be limited by injury to playing in only 12 games. Following a 63–53 win over Princeton in the first game in a four-team tournament in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Longhorns suffered one of the most lopsided losses in school history to Dean Smith's No. 7 and eventual national champion North Carolina Tar Heels, 104–68. Texas fell to Utah in Salt Lake City, 87–76, defeated Illinois in Austin, 89–72, and suffered an 85–76 loss to No. 15 Oklahoma in the All-College Tournament before beginning conference play. Texas began 0–4 in SWC play and suffered four home losses among its 10 total conference defeats. In the course of the conference season, the Longhorns lost to unranked non-conference opponents LSU in a neutral-site game, Georgia in Athens, and Virginia Commonwealth (VCU) in Austin by scores of 84–81, 78–70, and 66–60, respectively. Texas defeated Rice in the SWC Tournament before losing to Houston in the semifinals to end the season.

Despite the disastrous 1992–93 season, Texas returned a healthy roster deep with talent and experience for the 1993–94 season. Point guard B. J. Tyler, the future 20th overall pick in the forthcoming 1994 NBA draft, and Albert Burditt, future second-round selection in the 1994 Draft, returned in full health (Tyler after missing the first four games) after each having missed the majority of the previous season. Texas was not ranked in the preseason polls, but the potential for significant improvement was evident. Prior to the beginning of the season, sportswriter Gene Wojciechowski labeled the 1993–94 Longhorns a Final Four candidate, opining that Tyler, Burditt, and Terrence Rencher were the three best players in the SWC. [170] With Tyler still absent, Texas struggled in its first four games, narrowly defeating Nebraska in Lincoln, 78–75, and losing a road contest to LSU and a home game against Florida by scores of 86–66 and 76–68, respectively. The Longhorns' struggles continued, as Texas fell 96–86 to No. 16 Connecticut in Storrs and 86–61 to Rick Pitino's Kentucky Wildcats in Maui to post a 2–4 record in its first six games. Texas won its final game in Maui against Notre Dame before facing Oklahoma in Austin. Against Oklahoma, the Longhorns were finally able to end a nine-game program losing streak (extending back to 1979) and a five-game losing streak under Penders, defeating the Sooners 87–75 in Austin. The Longhorns avenged the previous season's loss to Utah with a 93–91, double-overtime home win over Rick Majerus's Utes before losing a closely contested game at Illinois, 83–78. After losing its first SWC game, Texas won 18 of its next 19 games in the regular season and in winning the SWC Tournament, with its only loss coming in double-overtime to Texas Tech in Lubbock, 128–125, and with its wins coming by an average of 22.1 points (and only once by fewer than 12). The Longhorns finished the SWC Tournament with a 25–7 overall record, a 12–2 conference record and outright SWC championship, and a No. 20 ranking in the final AP Poll. Texas received a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament and defeated Western Kentucky by a score of 91–77 to advance to a second-round contest against third-seeded Michigan, national runner-up the preceding two years. The Longhorns lost a close game to the Wolverines, 84–79, who would advance to the Elite Eight before falling to eventual national champion Arkansas, which defeated Michigan by the second-narrowest margin of its six NCAA tournament wins in 1994. Texas finished the season with a 26–8 overall record, matching Jack Gray's 1946–47 Final Four team and Abe Lemons' 1978 NIT Championship team for most wins in program history. Albert Burditt earned first-team all-SWC honors for the 1993–94 season. B. J. Tyler was recognized as the Southwest Conference Player of the Year and became the first Texas men's basketball player to receive All-American honors since LaSalle Thompson in 1982.

Penders resigned on April 3, 1998 following a scandal involving the unlawful release of player Luke Axtell's grades to the media. Longhorn players Axtell, Chris Mihm, Gabe Muoneke, and Bernard Smith had met with Texas Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds "to say that they had lost faith in Penders and his program." [171] [172]

In ten years at Texas, Penders' teams appeared in eight NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship NCAA Tournaments, advancing past the first round in all but one appearance. Penders finished as the then-winningest coach (by win total) in program history, with an overall record of 208–110 (.654).


Dr. Billye J. Brown was the first dean of the School and served from 1968 to 1989. Dean Brown oversaw the growth of the undergraduate and graduate programs, a budding nursing research program, and a continuing education program. Among her many accomplishments during her tenure as dean, she served as co-chair of the Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) Project Advisory Committee, member of the STTI Biennium Development Committee and president of STTI, was assistant editor of the Journal of Professional Nursing, and served as president of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the Texas Nurse’s Association.

Dr. Dolores V. Sands was appointed dean in 1989 following the retirement of Dr. Brown and served until her own retirement in 2009. Prior to her appointment as dean, she served as professor and director of the Center for Health Care Research and Evaluation, which later became the Cain Center for Nursing Research in recognition of a $5 million endowment from Gordon and Mary Cain. As dean, Dr. Sands provided the organizational infrastructure that maximized faculty development in teaching, research, and service to position the School of Nursing as one of the top nursing programs in research funding from the National Institutes of Health. During her 20 years as dean, she garnered over $16 million in permanent endowments for the school, including the Cain endowment that also endowed a $1 million Chair in her name.


A Tradition of Leadership In Research & Public Engagement

The iSchool is involved in several major programmatic collaborations with national and international organizations as well as at The University of Texas at Austin. Beyond these efforts, iSchool faculty, staff, and students collaborate with colleagues across the university, with firms, non-profit agencies, and governmental organizations in Austin and beyond, and with researchers and institutions worldwide.

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The UT Austin iSchool is a founding member of the international iSchools organization, and has a long history of interdisciplinary scholarship and research focused on the human, social, cultural, and technical aspects of information.

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What can I do with a History degree? 

Our faculty and curriculum shapes students to be the leaders of our future by building traits that can be applied to any occupation. A degree in History provides students with the ability to think critically, write clearly, listen closely, analyze rigorously, think broadly, read deeply, and speak confidently—skills applicable to any occupation.

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University of Texas - History

It's one of the best-known stories on campus. During a late night visit to Austin, a group of Texas Aggie pranksters branded the University's first longhorn mascot "13 – 0," the score of a football game won by Texas A & M. In order to save face, UT students altered the brand to read "Bevo" by changing the "13" to a "B," the "-" to an "E," and inserting a "V" between the dash and the "0." For years, Aggies have proudly touted the stunt as the reason the steer acquired his name. But was the brand really changed? And is that why he's called Bevo?

Sorry, Aggies. Wrong on both counts.

The last day of November, 1916 - Thanksgiving Day - was an eventful one for the University of Texas. At 9:00 a.m., a procession of students, faculty and alumni paraded south from the campus to the state capitol for the inauguration of Robert Vinson as the new UT president. Held in the House Chambers, students dressed according to their college and class. Seniors wore special arm bands, engineers sported blue shirts and khaki trousers, and freshmen huddled in green caps. There was enough pomp and oratory for the ceremony to last all morning.

After the inauguration, lunch was served on the Forty Acres. A boxed meal for twenty-five cents was available for those who wanted to picnic on the campus. Folks who preferred a more traditional Thanksgiving Day feast headed for the "Caf," an unpainted, leaky wooden shack that somehow managed to function as the University Cafeteria. The full turkey dinner cost fifty cents.

The afternoon was reserved for the annual football bout with the A & M College of Texas. A record 15,000 fans packed the wooden bleachers at Clark Field, the University's first athletic field, where Taylor Hall and the ACES Building are now. The first two quarters were a defensive struggle, and the half ended with the score tied 7 - 7.

During halftime, two West Texas cowboys dragged a half-starved and frightened longhorn steer onto the field, where it was formally presented to the UT student body by a group of Texas Exes. They were led by Stephen Pinckney (LL.B. 1911), who had long wanted to acquire a real longhorn as a living mascot for the University. While working for the U. S. Attorney General's office, he'd spent most of the year in West Texas assisting with raids on cattle rustlers. A raid near Laredo in late September turned up a steer whose fur was so orange Pinckney knew he'd found his mascot. With $1.00 contributions from 124 fellow alumni, Pinckney purchased the animal and arranged for its transportation to the University campus. Loaded onto a boxcar without food or water, the steer arrived at the Austin train station just in time for the football game.

After presenting the longhorn to the students, the animal was removed to a South Austin stockyard for a formal photograph and a long overdue meal. The steer, though, wasn't very cooperative. It stood still just long enough for a flash photograph, and then charged the camera. The photographer scurried out of the corral just in time, and both the camera and photograph survived the ordeal.

In the meantime, the Texas football team ran two punts in for scores to win the game 21 - 7.

To spread the news, the December 1916 issue of the Texas Exes Alcalde magazine was rushed into press. Editor Ben Dyer, BA 1910, gave a full account of the game and halftime proceedings. About the longhorn, Dyer stated simply, "His name is Bevo. Long may he reign!"

With the football season over, the steer remained in South Austin while UT students discussed what to do with him. The Texan newspaper favored branding the longhorn with a large "T" on one side and "21 - 7" on the other as a permanent reminder of the Texas victory. Others were opposed, citing animal cruelty, and wondered if the steer might be tamed so that it could roam and graze on the Forty Acres.

The debate was abruptly settled early on Sunday morning, February 12, 1917. A group of four Texas A & M students equipped "with all the utensils for steer branding" broke into the South Austin stockyard at 3:00am. There was a struggle, but the Aggies were able to brand the longhorn "13 - 0," which was the score of the 1915 football game A & M had won in College Station.

Only a week later, amid rumors that the Aggies planned to kidnap the animal outright, the longhorn was removed to a ranch sixty miles west of Austin. Within two months, the United States entered World War I, and the University community turned its attention to the conflict in Europe. Out of sight and away from Austin, the branded steer was all but forgotten until the end of the war in November 1919. Since food and care for the animal was costing the University fifty cents a day, and because the steer wasn't believed to be tame enough to roam the campus or remain in the football stadium, it was fattened up and became the barbecued main course for the January 1920 football banquet. The Aggies were invited to attend, served the side they had branded, and were presented with the hide, which still read "13 - 0."

Why did Ben Dyer dub the longhorn Bevo, instead of another name? For some time, the most popular theory has been that it was borrowed from the label of a new soft drink. "Bevo" was the name of a non-alcoholic "near beer" produced by the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Saint Louis. Introduced in 1916 as the national debate over Prohibition threatened the company's welfare, the drink was extremely popular through the 1920s. Over 50 million cases were sold annually in fifty countries. Anheuser-Busch named the new drink "Bevo" as a play on the term "pivo," the Bohemian word for beer.

However, while the Bevo drink was a long-term success, its sales in 1916 were comparatively small. Without the assistance of radio or television advertising, marketing campaigns were slower, and it took longer for retailers to buy in to the new Anheuser-Busch product. As it turns out, the Bevo beverage was almost unknown in Austin when Stephen Pinckney presented his orange longhorn to University students. Bevo the beverage just might be a red herring.

A recent suggestion made by Dan Zabcik, BA 1993, may prove to be the right one. Through the 1900s and 1910s, newspapers ran a series of comic strips drawn by Gus Mager. The strips usually featured monkeys as characters, all named for their personality traits. Braggo the Monk constantly made empty boasts, Sherlocko the Monk was a bumbling detective, and so on. The comic strips became so popular, that for a while it was a nationwide fad to nickname friends the same way, with an "o" added to the end. The Marx Brothers were so named by their friends in Vaudeville: Groucho was moody, Harpo played the harp, and Chico raised chicks when he was a boy. Mager's strips ran every Sunday in newspapers throughout Texas, including Austin.

In addition, the term "beeve" is the plural of beef, but is more commonly used as a slang term for a cow (or steer) that's destined to become food. The term is still used, though it was more common among the general public in the 1910s when Texas was more rural. The jump from "beeve" to "Bevo" isn't far, and makes more sense given the slang and national fads of the time.

Whatever the reason, UT's mascot was named by folks in Austin, not College Station.

Former Mascot Pig Bellmont

"Hook 'em, Hounds?" While the longhorn steer named Bevo has been a symbol of UT athletics for over eighty years, the university's first mascot was a scrappy tan and white dog named Pig Bellmont.

Born in Houston on February 10, 1914, Pig was only seven weeks old when he was brought to Austin by L. Theo Bellmont, a co-founder of the Southwest Athletic Conference and the University's first Athletic Director. Not long after his arrival, Pig was adopted by the University community, and for the next nine years roamed the campus as the 'Varsity mascot.

Every morning, Pig greeted students and faculty on his daily rounds. He frequented classrooms, and on cold days even visited the library (now Battle Hall). Pig regularly attended home and out-of-town athletic events, and it was said he would snarl at the slightest mention of Texas A&M. During World War I, Pig looked after the cadets of the School of Military Aeronautics, which was housed on the campus. He never missed a hike, and was always present for inspection. At night, Pig retired to his favorite digs under the steps of the University Co-op.

Pig was named for Gus "Pig" Dittmar, who played center for the football team. Gus was known to slip through the defensive line "like a greased pig." During a game in 1914, the athlete and the dog stood next to each other on the sidelines, and students noticed that both were bowlegged. It was not long before the dog had found a namesake.

On New Year's Day, 1923, Pig Bellmont was hit by a Model T at the corner of 24th Street and Guadalupe. He was only injured, but no one realized how seriously until his body was found a few days later. Pig's death was a tragic event on the campus, and the students decided to pay a final, fitting tribute to their canine friend.

On the afternoon of Friday, January 5th, Pig's body lay in state in front of the Co-op. Hundreds of mourners doffed their hats and filed by Pig's black casket, which was draped with orange and white ribbon. At five o'clock, the funeral procession began. Led by the Longhorn Band, the group marched south on Guadalupe Street to 21st Street, then east to the old Law Building, where the Graduate School of Business now stands. Pig's pallbearers were members of a new student group called the Texas Cowboys.

Northwest of the Law Building, under a small grove of three live oak trees, Pig's eulogy was delivered by Dr. Thomas U. Taylor, Dean and the founder of the College of Engineering. "Let no spirit of levity dominate this occasion," the Dean began, "A landmark has passed away." Pig was praised for his loyalty to the University, and compared to the faithful dog of Lord Byron. "I do not know if there is a haven of rest to which good dogs go, but I know Pig will take his place by the side of the great dogs of the earth." On cue, following Taylor's speech, a lone trumpeter played Taps in front of the Old Main Building.

After the funeral, a marker was left to remind the students of their first mascot. His epitaph: "Pig's Dead . . . Dog Gone."

The Damning History Behind UT’s ‘The Eyes of Texas’ Song

Student athletes wrote a letter urging officials to change the tune, which was first performed in a minstrel show.

On June 4, after one of their first in-person practices since the coronavirus outbreak, the Texas Longhorns football team lined up outside Darrell K Royal&mdashTexas Memorial Stadium and began to march toward downtown Austin. They were joining thousands of others across the world protesting the killing of George Floyd when they reached the Texas Capitol, players, coaches, and support staff knelt in silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the length of time Floyd was pinned to the ground with a policeman&rsquos knee on his neck. Then head coach Tom Herman addressed his players: &ldquoYou&rsquore a minority football player at one of the biggest brands in the country. You have a voice. Use it.&rdquo

His players took that message to heart. Days later, a group of more than two dozen Texas student athletes&mdashincluding football, basketball, and track stars&mdash posted a letter on social media in which they vowed not to participate in upcoming recruiting or fund-raising events until the university administration addressed a series of concerns. Those included renaming certain buildings on campus that are named for men who supported the Confederacy or segregation, creating an outreach program for underprivileged communities, and establishing a permanent exhibit centered on the history of black athletes in the Texas Athletics Hall of Fame , which opened last year and features statues of running backs Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams. &ldquoAs ambassadors, it is our duty to utilize our voice and role as leaders in the community to push for change to the benefit of the entire UT community,&rdquo they wrote. In particular, the final item on the players&rsquo agenda has ignited a debate throughout the Longhorn community over the past week: they called for officials to replace &ldquo&lsquoThe Eyes of Texas&rsquo with a new song without racial undertones.&rdquo

Read Next

The Battle to Rewrite Texas History

&ldquoThe Eyes of Texas&rdquo is not your typical school song. It&rsquos something closer to a prayer. (&ldquoThe Eyes of Texas&rdquo is UT&rsquos official alma mater tune and an unofficial fight song the school&rsquos official fight song is &ldquoTexas Fight&rdquo). Texas Longhorns sing it to begin and end every UT game. Alumni join in song at weddings and funerals, and they whisper it to their babies as they rock them to sleep. At the 1960 Democratic National Convention, a twenty-piece band played the tune to introduce Lyndon B. Johnson onstage. According to multiple football players who played under coach Mack Brown, incoming freshmen were instructed to meet with Jeff &ldquoMad Dog&rdquo Madden, the strength and conditioning coach, to learn the words to the song before even coming onto the field for their first practice.

For many Longhorns&mdashmyself included&mdashthe athletes&rsquo letter marked the first time they had learned of the song&rsquos problematic origins. &ldquoThe Eyes of Texas&rdquo had always been a part of my life as a fifth-generation Longhorn, with words as ubiquitous as those in &ldquoTwinkle, Twinkle Little Star.&rdquo I had never questioned where those songs came from I assumed they had always been there.

A reckoning with the past of &ldquoThe Eyes of Texas&rdquo has been gaining momentum in recent years, though. About a decade ago, a group of Texas basketball players refused to sing it after learning the song&rsquos history, and just two years ago, the Texas student government debated the merits of the song. Neither movement got much attention at the time&mdashbut now that monuments to the United States&rsquo racist history are toppling around the country, this call to action has been reinvigorated.

To trace the history of the tune, you must go back to the turn of the twentieth century, when William Prather was president of the university. In a 1938 memoir, T.U. Taylor, the first dean of the College of Engineering at Texas, alleged that the phrase, &ldquothe eyes of Texas are upon you,&rdquo was a reference to something Robert E. Lee often told students when he was the president of Washington College, in Virginia, where Prather studied law in the late 1860s. Taylor claimed that Lee often told students, &ldquoThe eyes of the South are upon you,&rdquo as a way of reminding them to work hard and uphold Southern traditions. For more than 80 years, that story was accepted as fact. But a recent report to study the song&rsquos origins could not find any primary sources that show that Lee ever used the phrase.

Instead the report found that Prather, who became UT&rsquos president in 1899, more likely found his inspiration from Confederate brigadier general John Gregg of Texas. Gregg reportedly once told his soldiers, &ldquoThe eyes of General Lee are upon you!&rdquo But, the report notes, similar phrases had been used long before the Civil War, including in the Book of Job (&ldquoFor His eyes are on the ways of a man.&rdquo) and by George Washington (&ldquoThe eyes of all our countrymen are now upon us&rdquo).

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But it was Gregg&rsquos saying that Prather referenced when speaking to students after being named president. According to a 1926 Dallas Morning News column remembering her father, Prather&rsquos daughter said her father gave a speech where he recounted Gregg leading troops into battle. She said that the crowd roared when the president said: &ldquoI would like to paraphrase [Gregg&rsquos] utterance, and say to you, &lsquoForward, young men and women of the University, the eyes of Texas are upon you!&rdquo

From then on, it became Prather&rsquos catchphrase. His daughter recalled one instance when students were waiting to hear the president speak. &ldquoBet you a quarter he says &lsquoeyes of Texas&rsquo before he gets through,&rdquo one student said to another. He won the quarter.

In 1902, a UT student named Lewis Johnson made it his personal mission to create a school song. He played tuba in the band, directed the school choir, and began something called Promenade Concerts, where the marching band would move through campus playing overtures and marches by John Philip Sousa. It bothered him that they played other schools&rsquo songs, like &ldquoFair Harvard.&rdquo He wanted a tune to call Texas&rsquos own, but didn&rsquot know how to write the lyrics.

He approached his classmate John L. Sinclair, the editor of the yearbook. Together, Johnson and Sinclair wrote a song titled &ldquoJolly Students of Varsity,&rdquo but it wasn&rsquot quite what they wanted, so they shelved the idea. Nearly a year later, Johnson was standing in line at the post office when Sinclair ran up to him and handed him a scrap of paper torn from a bundle of groceries. He&rsquod had a flash of inspiration, he said. Scribbled on the paper, he had written a poem:

They watch above you all the day, the bright blue eyes of Texas. At midnight they&rsquore with you all the way, the sleepless eyes of Texas. The eyes of Texas are upon you, all the livelong day. The eyes of Texas are upon you. They&rsquore with you all the way. They watch you through the peaceful night. They watch you in the early dawn, w hen from the eastern skies the high light, tells that the night is gone. Sing me a song of Texas, and Texas&rsquo myriad eyes. Countless as the bright stars, that fill the midnight skies. Vandyke brown, vermillion, sepia, Prussian blue, Ivory black and crimson lac, and eyes of every hue.

The two students decided to tweak the lyrics to more explicitly pay homage to Prather&rsquos catchphrase. Johnson suggested that they set the lyrics to the tune of &ldquoI&rsquove Been Working on the Railroad,&rdquo and they eyed an annual campus minstrel show on May 12, 1903, as the right time to debut it, since there would be a large audience, including President Prather. These minstrel shows, which went on until the sixties, were fund-raisers organized by students and featured white performers singing and dancing in blackface.

The &ldquoVarsity quartet,&rdquo with Johnson on tuba and Sinclair on banjo, performed after the school choir, in the middle of the show. According to Gordon, it&rsquos likely that the men donned blackface onstage as they performed the song. Their performance was a hit, and the crowd demanded that they play the song again and again. The very next day, on one of Johnson&rsquos Promenade Concerts, the band marched through campus playing the song while students sang along. That fall, during UT&rsquos annual bout with Texas A&M, the Aggies were driving late in the fourth quarter when they took a timeout. A student started singing the words, and soon, hundreds of others at Clark Field were joining in. A tradition was born, and &ldquoThe Eyes of Texas&rdquo eventually became ingrained into Longhorn student life.

The backlash surrounding &lsquoEyes&rsquo has grown considerably in the five days since the student athletes&rsquo letter was published. Student government and the university&rsquos Black Student Alliance voiced their support of the statement. And on Tuesday morning, a group of former Longhorn athletes, including Cat Osterman and Quan Cosby, tweeted a statement in solidarity with current athletes. &ldquoThey&rsquore not asking for new iPads, and we already have the best locker rooms in the country,&rdquo says Daron K. Roberts, the founder of UT&rsquos Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation . &ldquoThey&rsquore asking for institutional changes that they think can have an impact on the racism that they see.&rdquo

Other people&mdashincluding alumni&mdashare resistant to the change, citing tradition. On message boards and comment sections, detractors say that the song&rsquos meaning has changed over the years. John Burt, a receiver who graduated in 2019, told the school paper, &ldquoWhenever I sang &lsquoThe Eyes of Texas,&rsquo I was singing it because it&rsquos the school song, and I was singing it purely out of school pride.&rdquo

In spite of the song&rsquos origins, the Texas athletics department has yet to take a stance either way&mdashand it&rsquos unclear if it will be sung again come fall. Athletics director Chris Del Conte tweeted in response to the letter: &ldquoI am always willing to have meaningful conversations regarding any concerns our student athletes have. We will do the same in this situation and look forward to having those discussions.&rdquo (The athletics department declined to comment for this story.) In an email to students earlier this week, interim president Jay Hartzell wrote: &ldquoWorking together, we will create a plan this summer to address these issues, do better for our students and help overcome racism,&rdquo although he never addressed the song by name.

If UT has proved anything over the years, it&rsquos that change happens slowly and traditions have a stubborn grasp on the institution. Since around 2001, Gordon has been leading &ldquoracial geography&rdquo tours of the UT campus that highlight the school&rsquos forgotten racist history. One subject of Gordon&rsquos tour is George Washington Littlefield. Littlefield has long been known as one of UT&rsquos earliest and most prolific donors, and all around campus, you can still see his influence: a cafe and residence hall are named after him, and two of the campus&rsquos most prominent landmarks are the Littlefield Home and Littlefield Fountain.

In their letter, student athletes are calling for his name to be removed from Littlefield Hall because, as Gordon teaches, Littlefield was a slave owner who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. Late in his life, Littlefield poured money into making UT more Southern-centric and commissioned Italian sculptor Pompeo Coppini to design statues of Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, as well as his namesake fountain. The fountain&rsquos inscription, which was removed in 2016 , described how Confederates were &ldquonot dismayed by defeat nor discouraged by misrule [and] builded [sic] from the ruins of a devastating war a greater South.&rdquo Interestingly, when he was completing the project, Coppini recommended to Littlefield that the monuments should honor Americans fighting in World War I. When Littlefield refused, Coppini replied: &ldquoAs time goes by, they will look to the Civil War as a blot on the pages of American history, and the Littlefield Mem­orial will be resented as keeping up the hatred between the Northern and Southern states.&rdquo

In recent weeks, Gordon&rsquos tours of what he calls a &ldquoneo-Confederate university&rdquo have become so popular that the College of Liberal Arts made them available virtually . For his part, Gordon doesn&rsquot currently have a position on whether or not the university should cease singing &ldquoThe Eyes of Texas.&rdquo Either way, he says, the discussion is vital. &ldquoI just think people need to know what its roots are,&rdquo he says, &ldquoAnd then we should decide collectively what we want to do about that.&rdquo

Update 06/17: This article has been amended to reflect that &ldquoThe Eyes of Texas&rdquo is UT&rsquos alma mater and an unofficial fight song.

What we offer

Our curriculum helps you achieve a better understanding of current events and a better appreciation of architecture, art, ideas and politics.

Course offerings range from American political and constitutional development to ancient and modern Europe to modern China. Some courses are available online. As you progress toward your degree, you can focus your studies on U.S., European/Western or non-Western history.

Our department also offers:

  • Minors in African American Studies, Asian Studies, Classical Studies, Jewish Studies and Mexican American Studies
  • Course work for the Social Science major with history as a leading subject
  • Courses that prepare you for teacher certification

The History Help Center and the Kingsbury-Thomason Departmental Library can assist you with preparing for exams and writing papers. Other vital on-campus resources are the Military History Center and the University Libraries.

You may receive additional learning opportunities by attending any of the annual symposia and events hosted by the department or by getting involved in the Phi Alpha Theta history honor society. UNT's Phi Alpha Theta chapter has been recognized as Best Chapter multiple times by the national organization.

Our faculty members have received many awards for teaching and research. Five faculty members have been Fellows of the Texas State Historical Association, recognized for their published works related to Texas history. In addition, faculty members have received Professing Women awards and published dozens of award-winning books. They conduct research on:

  • African American history
  • Ancient Rome
  • Gender studies
  • Mexican American history
  • Middle East
  • Modern Germany
  • Napoleonic France
  • Texas
  • 20th-century China
  • U.S. and European military history

Several scholarships for history majors are available to help you pursue your degree. Information about these scholarships and deadlines is at our website.

Our Traditions

From a lovable feline to an all-campus fiesta, the University of Houston builds community and generates fun with a variety of time-honored traditions. Most individual colleges have their own traditions, too, ranging from 'The Follies', a generation-old law school tradition where students spend months organizing skits parodying their professors, to the annual Engineering Golf Tournament, where golfers raise money to support the Cullen College of Engineering. Here are just a few of the traditions that the University celebrates as a whole:

Each year, the university celebrates Frontier Fiesta.
Dating back to 1940, this student-run event features free live concerts, variety shows by student organizations, carnival booths, multicultural performances, and a world-class BBQ cook-off.

Every Friday is declared Cougar Red Friday.
Wearing red on Friday is more than just a tradition it is who we are. We wear red to show our pride and passion for the University. It is our visual identity. The color unites us, to live and to celebrate together, and behold our individual achievements as a singular legacy of the pride. We encourage our campus community and those all around the city to wear Red on Fridays.

UH has a long tradition of community service.
Located on the University of Houston campus is a very special monument. It is the Eternal Flame of Service monument erected by the Student Service Center to recognize every organization and individual on and around the UH campus who works to serve others. It is a gift from the UH Alpha Phi Omega chapter to the university in 1970. The tradition of service to others is alive and well with students volunteering both on the UH Campus and in Houston area communities.

The University of Houston Class Ring
So many University of Houston traditions reside in the hearts of students and alumni, but the UH class ring is the only tradition that is always with you. The ring is presented each semester at a formal ring ceremony. Tradition dictates that current students must wear the ring facing inward, with only alumni wearing the ring facing outward. Learn more about purchasing your class ring and the ring ceremony on the University of Houston Alumni Association Web site.

Cougar Spirit Cord
The Cougar Spirit Cord is a symbol of students' pride. It is a great way to help make more scholarships available to next year’s students while the graduating students show their support for a program that has made a difference in their individual UH experience. Graduating seniors get a Cougar Spirit Cord to wear at graduation as well as a head start in UH’s proud tradition of alumni giving. All graduating seniors are eligible to receive a Cord with a minimum $15 donation to any UH college, scholarship or program of their choice – then they wear the Spirit Cord at commencement to show their Cougar pride as they transition into life as an involved UH Alum! If you or someone you know is graduating, don’t be left out at your Commencement ceremonies. Learn how you can make your Cougar Spirit gift today!

At sporting events, the campus rallies around Shasta, UH's cougar mascot.
Between 1947 and 1989, five live cougars served as mascots since Shasta V's death in 1989, costumed students have carried on the tradition.

Before a big game, Cougar fans “rub the paws” of the cougar statues in Cullen Family Plaza, in front of the E. Cullen Building.
The statues were a gift to the university from Gift of John and Rebecca Moores in 2004. It is believed that the more people rub the paw, the more good luck the Cougars will have on game day. It’s especially important  during Homecoming.  Sometimes students rub the paw for extra luck for final exams, too.

At game time, Cougar fans show their support by making the "cougar sign," made by folding the ring finger of the right hand toward the palm.
The tradition dates back to 1953, when Shasta I, the presiding cougar mascot, lost a toe in a cage door on the way to a game. The opposing team, the University of Texas, mocked UH by imitating the cougar's injury. The Cougars soon adopted that gesture as a symbol of pride.

Another game-time tradition:
Our Cougar mascots to perform push-ups for each point scored during a football game.

The UH Frontiersmen display the Texas flag and the University of Houston flag at football games.
They were established in 1948 to promote Cougar spirit. The Frontiersmen's primary purpose is to support UH in any and all endeavors. Their three main areas of concentration are athletics, school spirit and Frontier Fiesta. As individuals, Frontiersmen play a very active role on campus and hold many key positions of student leadership. Frontiersmen are also very involved with off campus events and charities, including the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Sunshine Kids, Cougar Cookers, and "H" Association events. The Frontiersmen also act as ambassadors for the University of Houston and the State of Texas. In 1996 the Frontiersmen displayed the Texas Flag along side the University of Houston Flag at football games as part of our respect and obligation to represent the State of Texas as the only member from Texas in Conference USA.

The BLAZE is operated by the FRONTIERSMEN and is an oil field warning siren that was chosen to represent the university's ties to the petroleum industry. In the late 80's, Coach Jack Pardee, Andre Ware and David Daucus felt that the university lacked a symbol for the football team. An oil field warning siren was and by 1991, through a number of refinements by the efforts of the "H" Association, the Taxi Squad, Pleas Doyle and the Hruska Family, the purchase of the siren was complete. In the fall of 1991 a group of students manned a crank siren while waiting for the new siren to arrive. The siren did not arrive until late that football season, the day before Homecoming. That summer David Carl Blazek passed away. David was a staunch supporter of the University and his death was a blow to the original men who ran the siren. The Sigma Chi Fraternity had been in charge of the siren up to this point and gave it the name "The BLAZE" in honor of their fallen brother. To this day, every time that the BLAZE is sounded off, the University hears the voice of David Carl Blazek.

The official colors of the University of Houston:
Scarlet Red and Albino White, the colors of Sam Houston's ancestor, Sir Hugh. Scarlet Red represents "the blood of royalty that was spared due to the timely arrival of Sir Hugh and the blood that is the life source of the soul." Albino White denotes "the purity and perfections of the heart, mind and soul engaged in the effort to serve faithfully that which is by right and reason, justfully served." In other words, the red stands for courage or inner strength to face the unknown, and the white stands for the good of helping one's fellow man.

The Official Seal of arms of General Sam Houston, as handed down to him from noble ancestors.
The simple Escutcheon in the center of the seal consists of checkered chevrons denoting nobility, and three Martlets, gentle Lowland birds symbolizing peace and deliverance.  A winged hourglass is above the shield and surmounting this, the motto, “In Tempore” (In Time).  Greyhounds were placed at the sides to indicate the speed in giving aid.  The seal was adopted by UH in 1938 in conjunction with the construction of the campus. The first official version was placed on the floor of the Roy Cullen Building.

The Cougar Fight Song
Cougars fight for dear old U of H
For our Alma Mater cheer.
Fight for Houston University
For victory is near.
When the going gets so rough and tough
We never worry cause we got the stuff.
So fight, fight, fight for red and white
And we will go to victory.
Lyrics: Forest Fountain • Music: Marion Ford

The Alma Mater
All hail to thee,
Our Houston University.
Our hearts fill with gladness
When we think of thee.
We’ll always adore thee
Dear old varsity.
And to thy memory cherished,
True we’ll ever be.
Words and music by Harmony Class of 1942

Watch the video: Campus Tour of The University of Texas at Austin #utaustin


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