From SFA Athletics
Stephen F. Austin director of athletics Robert Hill announced Tuesday that he will retire from his role on May 31, 2018, following an affiliation with SFA athletics that spans over three decades in a various number of roles throughout the department.
“Being able to pick my time to leave is rare in this business and I thank Dr. Pattillo and the Board of Regents for their support and confidence in me,” said Hill.
“Most importantly, I must acknowledge my wife Brenda and our children and grandchildren. Without their love, support and encouragement I would not have been able to spend the countless hours it takes to do this job. Now I look forward to having much more time to spend with them.”
Since Hill took over as director of athletics in the fall of 2005, SFA has enjoyed an unprecedented run of success both in the Southland Conference and on a national stage. Among the notable athletic achievements is an NCAA Division I national championship in bowling (2016); men’s basketball’s four appearances in the NCAA tournament which include wins over VCU (2014) and West Virginia (2016); Demi Payne becoming the first SFA athlete to claim a NCAA Division I individual title by winning the outdoor pole vault title in 2015; the first back to back Southland Conference titles in school history for football in 2009 and 2010; ten consecutive women’s conference track titles; five consecutive women’s soccer league titles and volleyball’s first NCAA tournament win in 2006.
“My mentor, Steve McCarty, always reminded me that to have a successful organization you need to hire great people and then stay out of their way and let them do their jobs,” Hill continued. “I’ve tried to follow that advice. Our coaches and support staff deserve all of the credit for what we have accomplished. Their dedication to our student-athletes and doing things the right way is what really makes SFA a Southland Conference leader.”
At the conference level, Hill’s leadership helped SFA teams lay claim to 49 of the university’s 88 total Southland Conference titles. For the last three years, SFA has hoisted the Southland Conference Commissioner’s Cup - an annual award which represents the all-sports champion in the Southland Conference.
SFA became only the second school in the league’s history to repeat as Commissioner’s Cup winners for three consecutive years. In all, SFA has won five cups since 2010.
SFA also won its fourth consecutive Southland Conference women’s all-sports title in 2017 and fifth overall while winning the Southland Conference men’s all-sports trophies in 2013, 2011 and 2010. By winning the Commissioner’s Cup, the women’s all-sports title and the men’s all-sports title in 2010, SFA became just the second school to have swept all three awards in the history of the league.
The academic success of SFA’s student-athletes has been a major point of emphasis to Hill throughout his time in charge of the department. In the 2016-17 academic year, 120 student-athletes received degrees and 201 SFA student-athletes were named to the Southland Conference Commissioner’s Honor Roll. SFA athletics arrived at a major milestone in the fall of 2017, too, by posting a collective student-athlete GPA of 3.0 for the semester.
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 26,500 attended the game in 2017. The partnership between Lone Star Sports and Entertainment, SFA and Sam Houston has created one of the most attended FCS football games of the year with the event now on a three-year rolling agreement because of its success.
One of the most ambitious projects during Hill’s tenure became reality in 2015 when the athletic department began producing live ESPN3 telecasts of home football, basketball, soccer and volleyball games. A state of the art facility now produces these telecasts using SFA students as the production crew.
Active on the national scene, Hill served a four-year term on the NCAA Division I Football Championship Committee where he was named chair during his final year. He also is the current President 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.
A national search for Hill’s replacement will begin immediately.
“I will always remain a Lumberjack and am looking forward to following the success of SFA athletics for many seasons to come,” Hill finished.