Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and Lady Toppers

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Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and Lady Toppers
UniversityWestern Kentucky University
NCAADivision I (FBS)
Athletic directorTodd Stewart
LocationBowling Green, Kentucky
Varsity teams14
Football stadiumHouchens Industries -
L. T. Smith Stadium
Basketball arenaE. A. Diddle Arena
Baseball stadiumNick Denes Field
Softball stadiumWKU Softball Complex
MascotBig Red
NicknameHilltoppers and Lady Toppers
Fight songStand Up and Cheer
ColorsRed and white[1]

The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and Lady Toppers are the athletic teams that represent Western Kentucky University (WKU), located in Bowling Green, Kentucky, in intercollegiate sports as a member of the NCAA Division I ranks, competing in the Conference USA (C-USA) since the 2014–15 academic year.[2][3] The Hilltoppers and Lady Toppers previously competed in the Sun Belt Conference from 1982–83 to 2013–14; and in the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) from 1948–49 to 1981–82.

The men's teams use the name Hilltoppers; however, the women's teams use the name Lady Toppers.

Varsity teams[edit]

WKU competes in 16 intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf and track & field; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field and volleyball.

Men's sports Women's sports
Baseball Basketball
Basketball Cross country
Cross country Golf
Football Soccer
Golf Softball
Track and field Tennis
Track and field
† – Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor
Conference USA logo in WKU's colors


On April 14, 2015, WKU announced that it would suspend its men's and women's swimming and diving teams for at least 5 years, effective immediately. This followed a police investigation into claims of assault and hazing by a former men's team member which in turn found multiple violations of university policies on harassment and sexual misconduct.[4] On June 26 2018, three years after the men's and women's swimming and diving teams were suspended, the suspension period of the men's and women's swimming and diving teams ended early after all of its funding was lost, and in spring 2020, the men's and women's swimming and diving teams became a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers basketball program is nationally recognized, and one of the winningest programs in NCAA history. Rick Stansbury is the current head coach of the Hilltoppers. The program has over 1,600 victories, forty 20-win seasons, 38 Postseason Tournament Appearances and 28 All-Americans.

During the 1980s, Coach Paul Sanderford built Western Kentucky Lady Toppers basketball into a national power, appearing in 3 NCAA Final Fours. In recent years, the Lady Toppers have had a continued record of success; under head coach Michelle Clark-Heard, the Lady Toppers won the Conference USA title in 2015, advancing to the NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championship tournament in 2014 and 2015, and receiving invitations to the Women's National Invitation Tournament in 2013 and 2016. Following the completion of the 2018–2019 season, Michelle Clark-Heard accepted the head coaching position at the University of Cincinnati. The current head coach of the Western Kentucky University Lady Toppers is Greg Collins.[5]


Western Kentucky Hilltoppers football is currently a member of Conference USA. Previously, the school was a member of the Gateway Conference through the 2006 football season and then began its 2-year transition into becoming a full Division I FBS (formerly Division I-A) member. As a member of Division I-AA, now Division I FCS, the Hilltoppers won a Division I-AA Football Championship in 2002.[6] In 2008, the Hilltoppers were among the Division I-A Independents, along with the Army Black Knights, Navy Midshipmen and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. In 2009, the Hilltoppers completed the transition and joined the Sun Belt Conference. In 2015, the Hilltoppers clinched the Conference USA championship, won the Miami Beach Bowl and finished ranked 24th in the final Associated Press college football poll.

Following Jeff Brohm's departure to Purdue after back to back Conference USA Titles in 2015 & 2016, Mike Sanford Jr. was hired as his replacement. In his first season, Sanford posted a 6–7 record. His second season saw Western Kentucky finish 3–9, its worst finish since 2010. Shortly following the end of the season, Sanford was relieved of his duties as head coach.[7]

The current head coach is Tyson Helton who came to Western Kentucky after serving one season as the offensive coordinator under Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt.


WKU baseball competes at Nick Denes Field. The team won the Sun Belt Conference championship in 2009, their first Sun Belt title.

First Year: 1910 All-Time Record:1736–1448–17 (.545) Conference Championships: 3 (1952, 80, 2009) Tournament Championships: 2 (2004, 08) NCAA Tournaments:4 (1980, 2004, 08, 09) Postseason Record:6–8 (.429) Best Record (1980): 47–13–1 (.779) Best in NCAA's (2009):.3–2 (.600) Players Drafted:54 (last, Danny Hudzina)

Men's golf[edit]

The men's golf team has won 10 conference championships:[8]


  1. ^ "WKU Colors". WKU Communication & Branding Manual (PDF). August 21, 2018. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
  2. ^ "WKU Enters Athletic Membership Agreement with Conference USA Beginning July 1, 2014 - Western Kentucky University Official Athletics Site". Wkusports.com. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
  3. ^ ESPN [1], "ESPN," March 30, 2013
  4. ^ "WKU Suspends Swimming and Diving Program for 5 Years". WKU Athletics. April 14, 2015. Retrieved April 15, 2015.
  5. ^ Numbers, the (2020-06-24). "Greg Collins - Women's Basketball Coach". Western Kentucky University Athletics. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  6. ^ "2002: Western Kentucky Tops McNeese State for NCAA Championship". Archived from the original on 2014-04-07. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  7. ^ "Hilltopper coach Sanford fired after 3-9 season". Bowling Green Daily News. 2021-01-14. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  8. ^ "2012–13 WKU Olympic Sports Record Book" (PDF). Retrieved June 25, 2013.

External links[edit]