Once an NAIA powerhouse in baseball, basketball and soccer, the Panthers moved to NCAA Division I in 1999. After several struggling seasons in the Big South Conference, the college's board of directors decided to move all athletic programs from the scholarship-driven NCAA Division I to the non-scholarship Division III in the spring of 2006. The college's application to join the Division III Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference was approved by a vote of league presidents on June 7, 2006. A transition period of several years is expected before BSC will become a full member of the conference. On June 15, 2006, Athletic Director Joe Dean Jr announced that, owing to the number of scholarship athletes transferring elsewhere, BSC would not field teams in baseball or men's basketball for the 2006-07 academic year, meaning that for these sports, Division I participation was over.
Construction for Birmingham-Southern's new athletic complex began in February 2007. Land was cleared for the complex across from the BSC Softball Complex. The stadium features state-of-the-art artificial turf with an eight lane regulation track surrounding the field. An athletic building was constructed and includes a press box, coach’s offices, meeting rooms, an athletic training room, official’s dressing room and locker rooms for football, lacrosse, track and field, and cross country.
Jan Weisberg is the current Panthers baseball coach. Brian Shoop coached the team for 17 years (1990-2006), including an NAIA National Championship in 2001, their final year before moving to the Division I Big South Conference. Shoop's teams won the Big South regular season championship in 2004 and 2006. Shoop and many of his scholarship players left for the UAB Blazers after the college moved to Division III non-scholarship athletics in 2006. The Panthers play their home games at Striplin Field on campus.
The Panthers and Lady Panthers play at Bill Battle Colisuem on campus. A practice facility and modern locker rooms are located in the adjacent Striplin Sports Center, which was formerly the old gynasium, renovated in 2003. An underground tunnel connects the Striplin Sports Center with Bill Battle Colisuem.
The men's team has won two national championships while in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), in 1990 and 1995. In 1999, the Panthers moved to NCAA Division I, and was competitive in the Big South Conference from 2000 to 2006. After skipping the 2006-07 season, the Panthers are currently coached by Chris Graves, who succeeded Mitch Cole in 2011.
The Panthers have been coached by Preston Goldfarb since 1983. Goldfarb's teams were perennial contenders for the NAIA championship, and were runner-ups in their first season of NCAA Divison I eligibility (2003). BSC was host to the NAIA national tournament in 1996 (at Legion Field) and on-campus in 1997 and 1998.
See main article: BSC Panthers football
Birmingham-Southern first fielded a football team in 1918, coached by Baby Haynes. Charlie Brown coached the team from 1919 to 1923. Harold "Red" Drew was coach from 1924-1927. The all-time winningest coach in BSC history, Jenks Gillem led the Panthers to a 51-43-8 record in 12 seasons (1928 to 1939). The pre-1940 teams played their home games at Munger Bowl, which is currently the site of the school's library.
After an almost seven decade absence, the Panthers fielded their first football team in 2007. Former Alabama Crimson Tide and Birmingham Stallions reciever Joey Jones was named the head football coach in 2006, after a successful high school coaching career. Jones built the team from scratch for the 2007 season. The Panthers went 1-7 in varsity play, and 2-0 in junior varsity games, with a team made up primarily of freshman and sophomore players. Jones left the program on February 14, 2008, accepting the first head coach position for the University of South Alabama. Assistant coach Eddie Garfinkle was tapped to lead the Panthers for the 2008 season.
BSC Sports Hall of Fame
The BSC Sports Hall of Fame was established in 1981. Charter inductees included football coach Jenks Gillem, basketball coach Bill Battle, athletic director Ben Englebert, and three-sport letterman Lex Fullbright. Other notable inductees include Cooper Green (1985), Larry Striplin Jr (1986), Art Hanes (1993), Joe Dean Jr (1994), and Jabo Waggoner (2007).
- BSC Sports website