Director of Athletics
Stephen F. Austin
Follow Robert Hill on Twitter
Another Southland Conference Commissioner’s Cup and a national championship make the start of Hill’s third decade at SFA a special one.
Now in his 12th year as Director of Athletics, SFA teams have won 46 Southland Conference titles and one NCAA national championship during his tenure.
SFA recorded its first NCAA Division I team title during the spring of 2016 when the bowling team defeated Nebraska for the national championship. It was SFA’s first NCAA team title since 1986.
The men’s basketball team has been another program that has brought national attention winning its fourth consecutive Southland Conference title in 2016. The Lumberjacks also made their third straight trip to the NCAA men’s tournament where they defeated West Virginia in the second round and lost a one-point decision to Notre Dame in the round of 32.
Other highlights from the past year included Southland Conference Championships for soccer and men’s outdoor track. The soccer title was the fifth consecutive SLC championship while the track team recorded its second straight title.
Under Hill’s leadership SFA athletic teams have experienced their best years ever highlighted by winning the 2016, 2015, 2012 and 2010 Southland Conference Commissioner’s Cups. The annual award represents the all-sports champion in the Southland Conference.
SFA also won the SLC men’s all-sports trophies in 2013, 2011 and 2010 and the SLC women’s all-sports title in 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2010. SFA is only the second school to have swept all three awards in the 50-year history of the Southland Conference in 2010.
During the past eleven years SFA teams have made school history. Among the notable athletic achievements are men’s basketball’s four appearances in the NCAA tournament which included wins over VCU and West Virginia; Demi Payne becoming the first SFA athlete to win a NCAA Division I individual title by winning the outdoor pole vault title; the first back to back conference titles for football in 2009 and 2010; ten consecutive women’s conference track titles; five consecutive women’s soccer SLC titles; volleyball’s first NCAA tournament win in 2006; bowling’s NCAA championship.
Academic success is major point of emphasis for Hill as 133 student-athletes received degrees during the 2015-16 academic year. Also, 183 SFA student-athletes were named to the Southland Conference Commissioner’s honor roll during the 2015-16 academic year. At the end of the 2016 spring semester, 47% of all SFA student-athletes were maintaining a 3.0 GPA or higher with six teams achieving a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
SFA teams now wear Under Armour uniforms, shoes and accessories as a result of Hill negotiating a multi-year agreement with the sports apparel giant to become the official outfitter for SFA athletic teams through 2018.
Hill also played an important role in creating the “Battle of the Piney Woods” football game between SFA and Sam Houston State at NRG Stadium in Houston. The rivalry game moved from campus locations to the home of the Houston Texans in 2010. More than 27,000 attended the game in 2015. The partnership between Lone Star Sports and Entertainment, SFA and Sam Houston has created one of the top FCS football games of the year with the event now on a three-year rolling agreement because of its success.
Facility improvements have been a priority since Hill became director. This fall will mark the debut of a new 80’ video board in Homer Bryce Stadium. The new board will be the largest in the Southland Conference. Major improvements to the William R. Johnson Coliseum will also be new this year. A four-sided video board, video ribbon boards and LED tables are among the newest additions.
One of the most ambitious projects became reality last year when the athletic department began producing ESPN3 telecasts of home football, basketball, soccer and volleyball games. A new state of the art facility now produces these telecasts with SFA students providing the manpower.
Hill is active on the national scene having served a four-year term on the NCAA Division I Football Championship Committee where he was named chairman during his final year. He also is Chair of the Southland Conference Advisory Council.
In 2011 the National Association of Collegiate Director’s of Athletics named him Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year for the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision West Region.
Both he and his wife, Brenda, whom he met while attending SFA, are graduates of the University. Their family includes daughter Alix and husband Matt, granddaughter Claire and grandson Carter of Dallas; son Stuart, wife Kathy and grandsons, Blake and Aaron all of Woodbine, Maryland.