The Florida Atlantic Owls
are the athletics teams of Florida Atlantic University
. The Owls participate in the National Collegiate Athletic Association
's Division I
as members of the Sun Belt Conference
Despite its status as a mid-major university, Florida Atlantic has attracted high profile coaches for various sports, including Howard Schnellenberger for football and Rex Walters for basketball. Former coaches include Matt Doherty and Sidney Green. The Director of Athletics is Craig Angelos.
The logo and mascot of Florida Atlantic University
's athletic teams is the burrowing owl
. The presence of this bird has been popular on the land of the university, even preceding the construction of FAU. At the dedication ceremony in 1964
, President Lyndon B. Johnson
even made notice and reference to the popular presence of the bird. In 1971, the National Audubon Society
designated FAU's land an official owl sanctuary, honoring the tradition of the bird's presence and moving to protect the birds from attempts to expand construction of the university. Owls are still dominant in their presence on the Boca Raton campus to this day. With the addition of intercollegiate athletics in the mid-1980s, the university used the bird as its mascot - an animal that denotes wisdom, determination and cognizance.
FAU Blue Wave baseball
FAU's intercollegiate baseball team, however, was commonly referred to as "The Blue Wave", signifying the university's close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean
and the beach
. (FAU is a little over 2 miles west of the beach.) FAU Blue Wave baseball was popular with the community, players, coaches and students, so it was not considered a problem to have athletic teams called the "Owls" and the baseball program called "The Blue Wave." It was argued by proponents of maintaining "The Blue Wave" nickname that the university had never officially dedicated itself a mascot and that the "The Blue Wave" name was already considered tradition around the baseball program.
Owls vs. Blue Wave
With the success of its football program on the Division I
level, the university's administration and athletics department worked together to completely revamp the "branding" of the school - that is, design completely new logos for the university, the university seal and the athletics department, thus forming a unified mark to represent the school on a national level. In 2004, administration allowed students to vote online as to whether the athletics teams at FAU should be called "Owls" or "The Blue Wave." "Owls" won in a landslide victory and administration moved forward with branding the school's athletic teams "Florida Atlantic University Owls," including the baseball team. Students also decided the school colors should be red
- eliminating a third color that had been previously used, yellow
. Though the specific type of owl that dominates the campus is a burrowing owl
, the university decided to be called the Owls
(or Fighting Owls
). The branding initiative began in Fall 2004
and was completed in Spring 2005
. The logo of the FAU Owl head and the FAU Owl body are the current logos of the FAU athletics program - both results of the branding initiative.
Florida Atlantic University fielded its first football team in 2001, coached by legendary Miami and Louisville coach Howard Schnellenberger. Their first game was a 40-7 loss against Slippery Rock University on September 1, 2001. After just four seasons of existence, the Owls jumped from Division I-AA competition to Division I-A, joining the Sun Belt Conference. Through the 2007 season, after seven years of competing in football, the Owls are 40-41 overall.
The Owls' natural rival are the Florida International Golden Panthers, who are located just 50 miles from Florida Atlantic and both compete in the Sun Belt Conference. The rivals meet annually in a conference match up named the Shula Bowl, after legendary Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula. The first Shula Bowl was played in 2002 at Pro Player Stadium, and alternates between FAU at the Miami Dolphins' Dolphin Stadium and FIU Stadium annually. FAU leads the all-time series five games to one.
Florida Atlantic Baseball fielded its first squad in 1981. Since inception FAU has had only two coaches. Kevin Cooney has been the Florida Atlantic head baseball coach since 1988, and entering his 20th season this year, has built a mid-major dynasty in the baseball world. University of Cincinnati head coach, Brian Cleary, called FAU "one of the country's best baseball programs," and added, "it's been an incredibly successful program over the last several years."
20 years of Coach Cooney at FAU:
- 8 Regionals (1985, 1993, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005)
- 1 Super Regional (2002)
- 2 Atlantic Sun Conference Regular Season Championships (2003, 1999)
- 1 Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament Championship (2004)
- NCAA record of 34 consecutive wins (Feb. 19, 1999 - Mar. 16, 1999)
- 290 student-athletes baseball scholarships
- 10 All-Americans
- 7 Freshmen All-Americans
- 67 players sign professionally
- 4 players reach the majors
Coach Cooney won his 800th career game on March 15, 2006, when FAU played Columbia. At FAU, Cooney has won more than 680 games.
FAU basketball began play in 1988 and in its 19+ seasons has experienced limited success, marred with frequent coaching changes. Along with the other FAU athletics teams, basketball entered the Sun Belt Conference
in the 2006-2007 season, and has shown signs of maturing into a national competitor. The Owls competed on the Division II
level from 1988-1993 before joining the Atlantic Sun Conference
when moving to Division I
in the 1993-1994 season. In their first season
in the Sun Belt Conference, the Owls finished third
in the East Division.
- 12/1/98: FAU played Oklahoma State in Stillwater, OK. The Cowboys were undefeated and ranked in the top 10 of both national polls. FAU shocked the nation and upset OSU 83-81. This is still considered the biggest upset in FAU basketball history.
- 2002 Season: FAU won the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship, defeating Georgia State 76-75 in the Championship Game of the conference tournament. The Owls received a 15-seed in the national tournament, but fell short in a bid to upset 2nd-seeded Alabama.
The Owls were coached by Rex Walters in 2006-2008, a former standout at Kansas. Walters played a major role in the Jayhawks' run to the Final Four in 1993. Coach Walters became the 6th head coach of FAU basketball, after Matt Doherty left the university a year into his tenure to coach at SMU.
The Owls are currently coached by Mike Jarvis, who was hired in May 2008.
The Owls play at FAU Arena, commonly referred to as The Burrow.
In 2007, their first year as a member in the Sun Belt Conference, the FAU women's softball team became Sun Belt Conference champions winning both the Sun Belt regular-season and the Sun Belt tournament title. Florida Atlantic University is only the second Sun Belt champion in league history, knocking off defending champions Louisiana-Lafayette, which had won the first seven Sun Belt titles. Additionally
, the Lady Owls were only one of two teams to win their final post season game.
Coach Joan Joyce was named the Sun Belt's Coach of the Year after guiding the Owls to the top of the conference. Prior
to joining the Sun Belt Conference, FAU softball had won nine Atlantic Sun Conference titles in the previous 10 years.
Traditions, Mascot, Spirit, Cheers
Owsley the Owl is the official mascot of Florida Atlantic.
- Fight song: The Florida Atlantic University fight song was created in 2004, in response to the university's growing football program. FAU fielded its first marching band in the 2002 football season, collectively called the Florida Atlantic Marching Owls. Lyrics of the FAU fight song:
- We'll fight fight fight for F-A-U
- There's football in paradise
- We'll fight fight fight for F-A-U
- We know we're gonna win and it's feelin' mighty nice
- Cheering our football team up in the field
- And waving our colors too (HOOT HOOT)
- The Fighting Owls are on the prowl
- Go F-A-U
- Hit 'em high
- Hit 'em low
- Go Owls, Go!
- A growing tradition at football and basketball games is a marching band rendition of the songs "Move Along" by The All-American Rejects, "Sugar, We're Goin' Down" by Fall Out Boy and "Time Warp" from the movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
- During a free-throw attempt by an Owl at home basketball games, the student section holds up both arms and makes owls eyes with their fingers (in the form of the traditional OK sign). When the shot is made, the students follow with: Stomp, stomp, clap, clap and yell F-A-U!
- At the beginning and end of basketball games, a rap song titled "Represent FAU" is played. The song is rapped by a group that attended the university.
- Owl fans typically wear red to support the athletics teams, made popular by the "Real Fans Wear Red" shirts. Recent marketing efforts have promoted this through events such as the 2007 FAU/FIU Double-header event, where students were instructed to "Bury The Burrow in Red." (The Burrow is the FAU Basketball Arena)
Hall of Fame
Florida Atlantic University inducted its inaugural class of members into their Hall of Fame in 2006.
Inaugural Class of 2006:
- Keith Foley (Baseball, OF)
- Whitney Kraft (Men's Tennis)
- Nikki Myers (Softball, P)
- Steve Traylor (Baseball, Head Coach)
- Noemi Zaharia (Women's Swimming)
- Laurence Bensimon (Women's Swimming)
- Yolanda Griffith (Women's Basketball, F)
The rivalry between FAU and Florida International University
was born in 2002, when FIU's newly-formed football program signed on to an annual matchup with FAU, alternating between home fields. The game was come to be called the Shula Bowl
. All-time, FAU leads the football series 4-1. On the basketball court, FIU has been on the better part of the rivalry, leading the all-time series 8-11. In the 2006-07 season, FAU swept the season series (3 games).
has been a long-time rival of FAU, as both schools participated in the Atlantic Sun Conference
and now both moved to the Sun Belt Conference
. Both schools' baseball teams constantly competed as top programs in the Atlantic Sun, and currently both maintain that elite status in Sun Belt baseball competition. Along with baseball, football and basketball also share in the rivalry. Both programs' football teams cracked the surface as Division I-A
competitors around the same time. (FAU created a team in 2001 and joined D-IA in 2004; Troy moved from Division II
to D-IA in 2003.) Although FAU football has seen unprecedented success at such a rapid pace against Sun Belt compeititon, Troy had beaten FAU in all 3 of their football meetings, enciting the rivalry. However in 2007, FAU defeated Troy in the final game of the season, winning the Sun Belt Conference, and earning a spot in the New Orleans Bowl, the fastest ascent to a bowl game in D-IA history.
FAU Owls home and road games for football
can be heard locally (the "tri-county area" of South Florida - Palm Beach
, and Miami-Dade
counties) on WMEN
640 AM on the radio and on the station's webstream
The voice of Owls football is part-time ESPN's Dave LaMont, and the voice of Owls basketball is Palm Beach radio sportscaster Evan Cohen. All football and basketball games can be heard live on FAU's website
, as well.
As a part of the Sun Belt Conference, occasional football and basketball games are broadcasted by ESPN Plus, the pay-per-view service from ESPN. These games are available through the ESPN GamePlan and ESPN Full Court premium packages. There is also one football game and one basketball game aired on ESPNU per season. The 2006 seasons saw FAU football play Clemson and FAU basketball play North Carolina on ESPNU.
Notes and references