Prior to joining Division I, the school won NCAA National Division II Championships in women's volleyball and wrestling. The school has also placed second twice nationally in football and once in women's basketball at the Division II level.
Portland State's colors are forest green and white, and its mascot is the Viking manifested as "Victor E. Viking".
Football began competing at the college level in 1947. PSU competed at the small college level before beginning to compete at an interstate level in the 1960s. The 1970s brokered a new level of achievement under Mouse Davis. Mouse Davis installed the "Run & Shoot" which provided prolific scoring teams led by quarterbacks June Jones and Neil Lomax. Later in the 1980s, highlights included 2nd place finishes in NCAA Division II in 1989 and 1990 under legendary coach Pokey Allen.
The 2006 season included a victory over the University of New Mexico. The team finished the season tied for second in the conference and featured PSU offensive lineman Brennan Carvalho and linebacker Adam Hayword being named All-Americans. Tim Walsh completed his 14th year at the helm in 2006 and resigned to become the offensive coordinator at Army. Walsh was the longest tenured coach in PSU history. He was succeeded by Jerry Glanville, former NFL head coach and University of Hawaii defensive coordinator. Glanville hired Mouse Davis as his new offensive coordinator who re-installed the Run & Shoot.
Jerry Glanville's initial season at PSU in 2007 was a disappointing 3–8 campaign. The team recorded a 1–4 home record, worst since 1973. However, enthusiasm was reflected with an increase in attendance and included a wild 73–68 loss to Weber State. Center Brennan Carvalho finished a brilliant career by being named All-American for a second time. On December 8, 2009, Portland State announced Nevada defensive coordinator Nigel Burton as their new head coach.
Portland State's rival are the Eastern Washington Eagles. The Eastern Washington University Eagles and the Portland State University Vikings is a five-sport rivalry cup called The Dam Cup. The Dam Cup will celebrate the friendly rivalry between the states of Oregon and Washington within the Big Sky Conference.
The so-named rivalry refers to the four dams linking Oregon and Washington that one passes on the 339-mile drive from the Portland State campus to the Eastern Washington campus. Located along the Columbia River, they are Bonneville Dam, The Dalles Dam, The John Day Dam and the McNary Dam.
The purpose of the Dam Cup is to create a rivalry between Portland State University and Eastern Washington University and provide a sense of pride between alumni in the Portland and Spokane areas. Other goals include increasing attendance at events between both schools and building school spirit among each institutions' student body.
National scoring champion Freeman Williams starred for PSU during the 1970s under coach Ken Edwards. PSU made the NCAA College Division playoffs in 1967, and twice competed in the NAIA playoffs in the 1950s.
In the Big Sky Conference:
When PSU joined the Big Sky Conference, basketball returned to campus after a hiatus that lasted from 1981 to 1996. The current head coach is Tyler Geving. Portland State has qualified for the Big Sky Conference Tournament eight times in the eleven years it has been eligible. The Vikings have a 6–6 Big Sky Tournament record, including 2–0 against Montana State, 2–0 against Idaho State, 1–1 against Eastern Washington, and 1–2 against Northern Arizona and 0–3 against Weber State.
PSU completed the 2006–07 season with a 19–13 overall record and a 9–7 conference record. In the conference tournament, PSU defeated Montana State and was then defeated by Weber State to finish the season.
PSU rolled through the Big Sky in 2007–08, losing only two conference games on the way to a second ever conference championship since last winning in 2005. The Vikings went on to win the conference tourney by beating Idaho State in a semi-final match and Northern Arizona University in the final to secure the school's first NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship Tournament berth. The Vikings (23–9) were selected as a No. 16 seed in the 2008 NCAA Tournament in the Midwest Region, losing to No. 1 Kansas 85-61.
In the 2008–09, for the second year in a row, the Portland State Vikings completed a 23–10 basketball season with a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Matched with the previous season, the two 23-win seasons tie for the most in school history. And, both seasons culminated with appearances in the NCAA Tournament. Although the Vikings did not win the Big Sky Conference regular season title (as they did in 2007–08), the second-place team did win the Big Sky Tournament for a second straight season, advancing to the NCAA Tournament. Portland State earned a number-13 seed but lost in the Tournament to fourth-seeded Xavier in a first-round game, 77–59. The regular season highlights included a victory on the road over then seventh ranked Gonzaga and a victory over Boise State in a ESPN "bracket-buster" game.
PSU's wrestling program has won NCAA Division II Championships in 1969, 1989 and 1990. Rick Sanders was the first Viking to win individual national championships and was a two-time Olympic silver medalist. Portland State eliminated its wrestling program in 2009 due to state budget issues attributed to the worst recessions to hit the US since the great depression.. The programs final head coach was 1987 alum Mike Haluska.
Head Coach Brian Parrott leads the Vikings' tennis program starting with the 2008–09 season. After his collegiate career, Parrott played professionally for several years. He played in the U.S. Open qualifier in 1973, and was a member of the Sea-Port Cascades of the World Team Tennis league in 1977. Between 1967 and 1980, Parrott was ranked No. 1 in doubles seven times in the Pacific Northwest, and was never ranked lower than No. 8 in singles. But recently Parrott resigned from his coaching position, and is now taken over by assistant coach Jay Starling.
The women's basketball tradition includes considerable success at the NCAA DII level playing for national championships prior to moving to Division I. Head Sherri Murrell, formerly the head coach of Washington State, was hired July 1, 2007 to lead the program into its second decade in the Big Sky. Murrell was preceded by Coach Charity Elliot who resigned at the end of the 2006-07 season to become the head coach at University of California-San Diego.
Under first-year head coach Sherri Murrell, the 2007-08 Portland State team finished 22-9 overall and advanced to the semifinals of the Big Sky Conference Tournament. Portland State finished 11-5 in the Big Sky, tying with Montana State for third place, to post its first winning conference mark since going 8-6 in 2002-03. The Vikings were impressive in their conference victories, posting an average margin of victory of 16.7 points. The 22 wins marked the Vikings’ first 20-win season as a Division I program, and their first since going 25-5 as a member of Division II in 1995-96.
In 2008-09 under Murrell's guidance, Portland State posted an impressive 14-2 conference record in the Big Sky Conference losing only to Montana State at home and Montana on the road. PSU finished second behind Montana and beat Idaho State in the conference semi-finals and then lost to Montana in the tournament final.
Long time coach Jeff Mozzochi led the Vikings to it most successful DI finish in 2006 since moving up from DII. With a .750 winning percentage (21-7, 14-2), the best in the school’s Division I era, PSU finished second in the conference’s final standings for the second straight year. In the off-season, Mozzochi relinquished the head coaching reigns of the program to assistant Michael Seemann. Mozzochi moved into an associate head coaching position.
Under Seemann, the Vikings ended the 2007 season with a 21-8 record and Portland State's first ever Big Sky Regular Championship but missed the NCAA tournament by losing in the conference tournament.
Portland State returned most of its 2007 roster for the 2008 season and finished tied for second in the conference standings. The Vikings hosted and won the 2008 Big Sky Championship tournament at the Peter W. Stott Center for a first ever trip to the NCAA DI tournament.
One of the highlights of Mozzochi’s incredible run at PSU came during the 1992 season when the Vikings ran off one of the best NCAA Division II seasons in history. The Vikings lost their ninth match of the year to Cal State-Bakersfield and would not lose again, winning their last 28 straight (31 including foreign teams) matches. Portland State swept through the first three rounds of the NCAA DII Tournament and then defeated Northern Michigan in five games in front of a sellout crowd at the Stott Center for national title number four.
A new era in Portland State women’s soccer began on Feb. 22, 2008, when former All-American and professional player Laura Schott was named the Vikings’ new head coach. Schott is the seventh head coach in program history. The soccer team won the Big Sky Conference Championship in 2004 under then coach Tara Erickson who subsequently was hired by the University of Oregon.
The Viking program has been in existence since 1996, but has already proven to be competitive at a high level under former Portland State golf coach Felicia Johnston’s guidance. Johnston, led the Vikings to three Big Sky Conference Championships during her tenure (2003, 2004, 2005).
After seven seasons in charge, Portland State women's golf coach Felicia Johnston announced her resignation, citing a desire to spend more time with her family. Johnston and her husband, Shane, had a son, Connor, summer of 2007. (PSU Vikings Official Athletics Site)
“I have been a head coach for 10 years (seven at PSU, three at Northern Arizona),” said Johnston. “Traveling and (coaching and parenting) was tough. Something was going to suffer. So, if I couldn’t do it 100%, I had to choose my family. I’ve been lucky to help this program grow, and I thank everyone for the support they have given me.” (GOLFWEEK, Nov 22, 2007)
Kathleen Takaishi was named the new women’s golf coach on February 4 and took over the program immediately in preparation for the 2008 spring season.
Tobin Echo-Hawk has been coach since the 2008-'09 season and is just the third head softball coach at PSU since 1977. The teams record for her first two years is 59-33. They are 27-16 with three games left (as of 5/3/11) in the '10-'11 season. Prior to joining the Vikings staff she was the head coach at Broomfield High School in Colorado in 2006. She also spent three years coaching at her alma mater in Colorado, Centaurus High School, and guided the team to a record of 60-15 from 2000-02. Overall as a high school head coach, she compiled a four-year record of 97-26, produced seven all-state performers, and was twice named the league coach of the year.
Head Coach Brian Parrott leads the Vikings' tennis program starting with the 2008-'09 season.
After his collegiate career, Parrott played professionally for several years. He played in the U.S. Open qualifier in 1973, and was a member of the Sea-Port Cascades of the World Team Tennis league in 1977. Between 1967 and 1980, Parrott was ranked No. 1 in doubles seven times in the Pacific Northwest, and was never ranked lower than No. 8 in singles.