Cardinals Highlights

General Information

NCAA Division: Division I
Conference: Southland Conference
Past Conferences: Lone Star Conference, Heart of Texas Conference, Heartland Conference
City: San Antonio, Texas
Arena: McDermott Convocation Center
NCAA Tournaments: 0


National Championships – 0
Conference Titles – 10 (1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2009, 2010)

Team History

Incarnate Word is a relatively new college basketball team that began play under coach Lee Williams in 1980-81. Williams was succeeded by James Harris in 1982-83. As is the case with many smaller schools, records are sketchy for the first seasons, but it is known the Cardinals weren’t a very good team, with Harris credited with a 9-40 record for his three seasons at the helm.

Incarnate Word’s fortune started to change when Mel Barborak took over in 1985, as the team went 88-78 under his tenure. The Cardinals became lower-level powerhouses under Danny Kaspar, who was coach from 1991-92 to 1999-00. The Cardinals captured six Heart of Texas (NAIA) conference titles and were a regular in the NAIA Tournament.

Incarnate Word didn’t miss a beat after Kaspar left for Stephen F. Austin, winning four Heartland Conference (NCAA Div. II) titles and advancing to the NCAA Div. II Tournament in 2002, 2009, and 2010. The Cardinals made the move to Division I in 2013-14 and joined the Southland Conference.

The Cardinals had a strong three-year run to start Division I and were invited to play in the 2015 CIT, but after going 17-12 in 2015-16, Incarnate Word hasn’t had a winning season since.

Northwestern State Demons All-Time Records

Points Scored

Kyle Hittle, 1,339
Shawn Johnson, 1,237
Denzel Livingston, 1,172


Shawn Johnson, 710
Kyle Hittle, 502
Denzel Livingston, 345


Mitchell Badillo, 390
Drew Lutz, 267
Denzel Livingston, 187

Northwestern State Demons FAQs

Why Was Incarnate Word’s Early Exit in the 1999 NAIA Tournament Memorable?

Incarnate Word had the No. 1 seed for the 1999 NAIA Tournament and cruised to a 72-56 win over Wilburforce in its first game. The Cardinals played 16th-seeded Biola in the second round and the Eagles pulled off the 57-55 upset.

When Did Incarnate Word Become the Cardinals?

Incarnate Word changed the school’s nickname in 2004 from Crusaders to Cardinals, after administrators decided the name was offensive to Muslims and not appropriate for the school.

Did Incarnate Word Join the Western Athletic Conference?

On November 12th, 2021, Incarnate Word announced it was moving to the Western Athletic Conference beginning July 1st, 2022, but a week before the scheduled move, the Cardinals said they would remain in the Southland Conference. On October 14th, 2022, the WAC filed a lawsuit against Incarnate Word for $2 million plus additional damages for breach of contract.

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