|Western Carolina Catamounts|
|University||Western Carolina University|
|NCAA||Division I (FCS)|
|Athletic director||Alex Gary|
|Location||Cullowhee, North Carolina|
|Football stadium||E. J. Whitmire Stadium|
|Basketball arena||Ramsey Center|
|Baseball stadium||Hennon Stadium|
|Fight song||Fight on! You Catamounts|
|Colors||Purple and Gold |
The Western Carolina Catamounts are the intercollegiate athletics teams that represent Western Carolina University. The Catamounts compete in the NCAA Division I as members of the Southern Conference. Western Carolina fields 16 varsity sports teams. The men's and women's teams are called the Catamounts.
The nickname Catamount derives from cats of the catamount variety, including the bobcat, that roams the southern Appalachian Mountains where the school is located. The nickname evolved from a contest that was held on campus in 1933. The school was called Western Carolina Teachers College at that time and its teams were known as "the Teachers." Everyone on campus was invited to participate, and the usual names were suggested: Bears, Indians, Panthers. However, the college wanted an unusual name; a name that few others had and that everyone would not copy. The contest came down to Mountain Boomers, a small ground squirrel that scampers about the woods and is extremely difficult to catch, and Catamounts. Catamounts was the favorite of head football coach C.C. Poindexter and was the nickname chosen. Poindexter wanted his players to be Catamounts with "fierce spirit, savage attacks, and lightning quick moves." Paws the Catamount is the official mascot of Western Carolina University. He appears at numerous events and functions across western North Carolina.
Western Carolina is the only football-playing school in the United States that uses the nickname Catamounts. The University of Vermont is the only other school with the moniker.
A member of the Southern Conference, Western Carolina sponsors teams in 6 men's and 8 women's NCAA sanctioned sports:
|Western Carolina Catamounts|
|Men's Basketball||Justin Gray|
|Women's Basketball||Kiley Hill|
|Men's Cross Country||Jesse Norman|
|Women's Cross Country||Jesse Norman|
|Men's Golf||Tim Eckberg|
|Women's Golf||Courtney Gunter|
|Women's Soccer||Chad Miller|
|Women's Tennis||Bret Beaver|
|Men's Track & Field||Jesse Norman|
|Women's Track & Field||Jesse Norman|
|Women's Volleyball||Karen Glover|
The Catamounts baseball team has reached the NCAA tournament 12 times, including five straight years from 1985-1989, three straight years from 1992-1994, and four other times in 1997, 2003, 2007, and 2016. They have made it to the Regional Finals three times in 1992, 2003, and 2007.
The Catamounts men's basketball team reached the NCAA tournament in 1996, where they dropped their only game against No.1 seed Purdue, 73-71. Western Carolina nearly became the first No.16 seed to beat a No.1 seed in the NCAA tournament, missing two shots in the final 11 seconds to tie the game.
The Catamounts women's basketball team reached the NCAA tournament in 2005 and again in 2009 under the leadership of Kellie Harper, who went on to be the head coach for N.C. State and Tennessee. Western Carolina played West Chester in the first women's basketball national title game in 1969, dropping the game 65-39 to top seed and host West Chester.
The Catamounts football team made it to the Division I-AA championship game in 1983, falling to No. 1 seed Southern Illinois. On their way to the championship, Western Carolina upset No. 2 seed Holy Cross and No. 3 seed Furman.
Regular Season: 13 (1981, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1994, 1997, 2003, 2007, 2013, 2014)
Tournament: 10 (1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1997, 2003, 2016)
Division: 3 (South, 1996; co-North, 2009 & 2011)
Tournament: 1 (1996)
Tournament: 2 (2005, 2009)
Regular Season: 1 (2006)
Regular Season: 4 (1983, 1985, 1986, 1989)
Tournament: 3 (1983, 1985, 1986)
Regular Season: 1 (2001)
Tournament: 2 (2005, 2009)
1999 2004 2006 2008 2012
1999 2006 2007 20092013
1996 1997 1999 2000 2008 2010
1997 1999 2000 2001 2008 20102013
The university established an athletic hall of fame in 1990. The hall of fame honors those athletes, coaches, and people whose outstanding contributions have enriched the athletic programs of Western Carolina University.
Western Carolina football was born in 1931, thanks to C.C. Poindexter. Often referred to as the "Father of Western Carolina Athletics" because of his efforts in organizing what was then Western Carolina Teachers College's first athletic program in the early 1930s. He was the first to be hired by the college to work exclusively in athletics and became the first head football coach.
He accepted the dual roles of Athletic Director and football coach in 1931. Then, later he also assumed duties as the first head coach in basketball and baseball. His leadership and vision resulted in the construction of the first college football field on the Western Carolina campus. With the help of assistant coaches, he coached three separate scholarship teams. As athletic director, he developed the college's first schedule of strictly college competition.
|1||C.C. Poindexter||1931–1934||4 years||10–26–2|
|2||Ralph James||1935–1938||4 years||4–30–3|
|3||James Whatley||1939–1941||3 years||6–1–1|
|4||Marion McDonald||1945||1 year||1–3–0|
|5||Tom Young||1946–1955||10 years||39–55–4|
|6||Dan Robinson||1956–1968||13 years||51–67–6|
|7||Bob Waters||1969–1988||20 years||116–94–6|
|8||Dale Strahm||1989||1 year||3–7–1|
|9||Steve Hodgin||1990–1996||7 years||31–45–0|
|10||Bill Bleil||1997–2001||5 years||23–32|
|11||Kent Briggs||2002–2007||6 years||22–43|
|12||Dennis Wagner||2008–2011||4 years||8–36|
|13||Mark Speir||2012–||7 years||29–43|
In 1949, Coach Tom Young completed a four-year, post-World War II building program with an 8–2 regular season and the school's first North State Conference championship and first postseason appearance. The team was rewarded by a bid to play in the Smoky Mountain Bowl in Bristol, Virginia, where the Cats lost to West Liberty State. Art Byrd, a 165-pound guard, was named to the Associated Press Little All-America Team, Western's first All-America selection.
The 1974 Catamounts, playing in a sparkling new stadium, lost their season and stadium opener to visiting Murray State and struggled the next two weeks before establishing themselves as one of the nation's top NCAA Division II teams. The Catamounts won nine in a row—including victories over top 10 teams Indiana State and Western Kentucky—and won a bid to the NCAA Division II playoffs where they lost to No. 1 ranked Louisiana Tech, 10–7. The 1974 Cats finished the season ranked No. 8 in the Associated Press College Division poll.
The 1983 Catamounts got off to a slow start by losing its first two games to Clemson and Wake Forest. After these two setbacks, the Catamounts would go through the next 12 Saturdays unbeaten en route to the NCAA Division I-AA National Championship Game. Despite the strong comeback in regular season play that produced an 8–2–1 regular season record and a No. 9 national ranking, Coach Waters’ Cats barely made it into the I-AA Championship game needing come-from-behind wins the next three weeks. The Cats' wins over Colgate (24–23), Holy Cross (28–21) and Furman (14–7) carried the team to the National Championship Game. The playoff win over Furman was particularly pleasing as the teams had tied, 17–17, in the regular season, which allowed the Paladins to win the Southern Conference Football Title that year (Furman had played and won one more league game due to a scheduling quirk). Over 5,000 WCU fans traveled to Greenville, South Carolina, for the rematch which was aired by CBS-TV. The winning streak ended with a loss to Southern Illinois in the National Championship Game in Charleston, South Carolina. Seven members of the ‘83 squad went on to play in the NFL and the team set an NCAA record for the most games played (15) in a season.
Western played Appalachian State annually in the Battle for the Old Mountain JugThe first game between Western and Appalachian was held in 1932, but the "Old Mountain Jug" was introduced in 1976. The rivalry ceased after the 2014 meeting due to Appalachian State moving to NCAA FBS. The rivalry between the two mountain schools was a natural, Appalachian and Western were the only public colleges in the western half of North Carolina for decades. Both schools made similar steps to their present status as comprehensive regional universities and both basically recruited athletes from the same high schools in the early years. Their graduates were, for the most part, school teachers – and alumni of both schools often found themselves working together, which helped foster the rivalry.
In 1974, while Western was seeking membership to the Southern Conference, an incident happened that heated up the rivalry. Prior to the WCU-ASU game that year, ASU's athletic director informed Western's President that if Jerry Gaines, Western's all-star wide receiver/kick returner – and arguably the school's best athlete ever – were allowed to play in the WCU-ASU football game in Boone, ASU would withdraw their support of Western's membership for the Southern Conference (ASU was Western's sponsor).Their rationale was that Gaines was playing the 1974 season as a fifth-year [medical red-shirt] and red-shirting was not permitted in the Southern Conference at that time. Gaines had been injured in the first half of the second game of the 1971 season against Appalachian State. Catamount fans believed Appalachian State's motive was based upon Gaines' performance in the previous two meetings in the series, both won handily by the Catamounts.
Gaines did not play in 1974, but his replacement, true-freshman Wayne Tolleson, caught the winning touchdown pass in a 21–17 Catamount victory.
Western's record in games played is 18–54–1, and 7–26 in the Jug's era.
Old Mountain Jug Series Notes
Most Points by ASU: 79 (2007)
Most Points by WCU: 41 (1983)
Fewest Points by ASU: 6 (1998)
Fewest Points by WCU: 3 (1995)
Largest ASU Victory Margin: 44 (2007)
Largest WCU Victory Margin: 27 (1984)
ASU Winning Streak: 13 (1985–1997)
WCU Winning Streak: 4 (1981–1984)
Battle for the Jug at Kidd Brewer Stadium: ASU leads 15–2
Western Carolina University began baseball in 1928, however, records prior to 1951 are incomplete. The first head coach was C.C. Poindexter.
On July 19, 2007, Bobby Moranda was officially introduced as the 10th different head baseball coach at Western Carolina.
The baseball program has called Ronnie G. Childress Field/Hennon Stadium its home since 1978. Childress Field, built at an initial cost of $125,000, was dedicated April 26, 1978, and named in honor of the late Ronnie G. Childress, an avid supporter of WCU athletics and a special friend of the baseball program. In 1978, the baseball stadium was moved approximately 200 yards to the east from the former "Haywood Field". The Cats have won over 72 percent of their home games since then, with a 526–201 record in 30 seasons. Bill Haywood, head baseball coach from 1969 through 1981, and Mr. E.J. Whitmire, longtime supporter and benefactor from Franklin, were the driving forces behind the building of the facility. The baseball facility was officially renamed Ronnie G. Childress Field at Hennon Stadium in a dedication program on April 23, 1994.
All-time coaching history
|Jim Gudger||1951–60, '63||140–83|
Mark Prosser was hired as the 18th head basketball coach on March 27, 2018.Western Carolina began playing basketball in 1928, under head coach Pete Plemmons.
Dikembe Mutombo's nephew Harouna Mutombo played college basketball for the Western Carolina Catamounts from 2007–12. Harouna was the team's leading scorer for the 2009 season and was named Southern Conference Freshman of the Year.
Kevin Martin of Minnesota Timberwolves played for the Western Carolina Catamounts (2001–2004), and was a first-round draft choice, selected by the Sacramento Kings.
All-time coaching history
|Mark Prosser||2018 - present||26-37|
Lady Catamount basketball was added as a varsity sport at Western Carolina University in 1965. Betty Westmoreland started Western Carolina's intercollegiate basketball program and coached the Lady Catamounts for 14 years. The program grew from independent status to NAIAW, NCAA Division II, then NCAA Division I. Her team compiled a 190–89 record, never suffering a losing season in 14 years. The team was the national CIAW runner-up in the 1968–69 season and finished fourth the following year in the tournament. The current head coach is Kiley Hill.
All-time coaching history
The Western Carolina women's fastpitch softball team completed its inaugural season in 2006. With a 41–20 record, it won the Southern Conference regular season championship. The Lady Catamounts' home field is the Catamount Softball Complex.
All-time coaching history
All-time coaching history
In 2012, Danny Williamson began his 25th year as men's head coach and his 26th year as head of the women's program. During his tenure, Western's Track and Field Program the Catamounts moved from the lower levels of the Southern Conference to a prominent place in the top tier of the conference standings year in and year out.
Under Williamson, the Catamounts (men and women) have claimed 17 Southern Conference Team Championships between indoor and outdoor seasons. Williamson has witnessed over 700 of his athletes receive All-Southern Conference Awards and over 225 Western Carolina Track and Field/Cross Country Athletes be named an Individual Conference Event Champion.
Selected as Southern Conference Coach of the Year on 25 occasions and in 1999, 2004 and 2006 he was selected the NCAA Regional Track and Field Coach of the Year. A 1985 graduate of Western Carolina University with a bachelor's degree in Physical Education, Williamson returned to Western and completed his Master's in Education in 1986.
Danny Williamson retired in 2016 and Jesse Norman was named the next head men’s and women’s cross country/track & field coach at Western Carolina as announced by Director of Athletics Randy Eaton.
Norman returns to Cullowhee after spending the previous 12 seasons as head coach of the UNC Asheville cross country and track and field programs. Under Norman’s guidance, the Bulldogs had four student-athletes earn All-American honors along with eight NCAA East Preliminary qualifiers, 18 Big South Conference champions and 57 Big South All-Conference honorees. Norman is a two-time Big South Coach of the Year, most recently claiming the 2018 Big South Women’s Track Coach of the Year.
Southern Conference Championships:
Larry Hunter was an American former college basketball coach. He served as the head basketball coach at Wittenberg University from 1976 to 1989, Ohio University from 1989 to 2001, and Western Carolina University from 2005 to 2018, compiling a career college basketball coaching record of 702–453. As head coach of the Ohio Bobcats men's basketball team from 1989 to 2001, he had a record of 204–148. His Bobcats teams made one NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament appearance in 1994, an NIT appearance in 1995, and won the Preseason NIT in 1994. Despite his winning record and being second on Ohios' all-time wins list with only two losing seasons, he was fired in 2001. Hunter also played at Ohio University from 1970 to 1971.
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Ronnie G. Childress Field at Hennon Stadium is the home of the Western Carolina Catamounts baseball team in Cullowhee, North Carolina.
Keith Aaron LeClair was an American baseball coach. He was both a star athlete and later head baseball coach at Western Carolina University. During his playing days, LeClair played for former Clemson head baseball coach Jack Leggett at Western Carolina. He was an All-Southern Conference selection in 1988 while earning SoCon Tournament MVP honors the same season. The former walk-on established Catamount baseball records for hits and total bases in a season. LeClair played on four consecutive Southern Conference Championship Baseball teams (1985–88). He ranked in the top 10 in six different WCU hitting categories while posting a career .375 batting average and was named MVP of the 1988 Southern Conference Tournament.
The Western Carolina Catamounts football program represents Western Carolina University. The team competes in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and are members of the Southern Conference. Since the school's first football team was fielded in 1931, the Catamounts have a record of 341-502-23, have made two postseason appearances, and have played in one national championship game.
The Western Carolina Catamounts men's basketball team is the intercollegiate men' basketball team that represents Western Carolina University. The team currently competes in the Southern Conference. Western Carolina won the 1996 Southern Conference Tournament and participated in the 1996 NCAA Tournament.
The North Georgia Nighthawks are the athletic teams that represent the University of North Georgia, located in Dahlonega, Georgia, in intercollegiate sports. The Nighthawks compete in NCAA Division II as members of the Peach Belt Conference in 12 of their 13 varsity sports; with rifle competing in the Division I Southern Conference. All 13 intercollegiate programs are hosted on the university's Dahlonega campus.
The 2013–14 Western Carolina Catamounts men's basketball team represented Western Carolina University during the 2013–14 NCAA Division I men's basketball season. The Catamounts, led by ninth year head coach Larry Hunter, played their home games at the Ramsey Center and were members of the Southern Conference. They finished the season 19–15, 10–6 in SoCon play to finish in fifth place. They advanced to the championship game of the SoCon Tournament where they lost to Wofford.
The 2014–15 Western Carolina Catamounts men's basketball team represented Western Carolina University during the 2014–15 NCAA Division I men's basketball season. The Catamounts, led by thenth year head coach Larry Hunter, played their home games at the Ramsey Center and were members of the Southern Conference. They finished the season 15–17, 9–9 in SoCon play to finish in fourth place. They advanced to the semifinals of the SoCon Tournament to Wofford.
The Western Carolina Catamounts women's basketball team is the basketball team that represents Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina, United States. The school's team currently competes in the Southern Conference.
The 2016–17 Western Carolina Catamounts men's basketball team represented Western Carolina University during the 2016–17 NCAA Division I men's basketball season. The Catamounts, led by 12th-year head coach Larry Hunter, played their home games at the Ramsey Center in Cullowhee, North Carolina as members of the Southern Conference. They finished the season 9–23, 4–14 in SoCon play to finish in a tie for eighth place. They lost in the First Round of the SoCon Tournament to The Citadel.
Mark Prosser is an American college basketball coach and current head coach of the Winthrop Eagles men's basketball team.
The 2018–19 Western Carolina Catamounts men's basketball team represented Western Carolina University during the 2018–19 NCAA Division I men's basketball season. The Catamounts, led by first-year head coach Mark Prosser, played their home games at the Ramsey Center in Cullowhee, North Carolina as members of the Southern Conference. They finished the season 7-25, 4-14 in Southern Conference play to finish in a three-way tie for eighth place. In the Southern Conference Tournament, they were defeated by VMI in the First Round.