Florida Atlantic Owls
The Florida Atlantic Owls are the athletics teams of Florida Atlantic University (FAU). The Owls participate in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)'s Division I as members of Conference USA. In addition to the current football head coach Lane Kiffin, Florida Atlantic has attracted high-profile coaches in the past for various sports, including Howard Schnellenberger for football and Mike Jarvis for basketball. Other former coaches include Matt Doherty, Rex Walters, and Sidney Green. As of March 2018, the Owls are led by athletic director Brian White.
|Florida Atlantic Owls|
|University||Florida Atlantic University|
|NCAA||Division I / FBS|
|Athletic director||Brian White|
|Location||Boca Raton, Florida|
|Varsity teams||18 (8 men's; 10 women's)|
|Football stadium||FAU Stadium|
|Basketball arena||FAU Arena|
|Baseball stadium||FAU Baseball Stadium|
|Softball stadium||FAU Softball Stadium|
|Mascot||Owlsley the burrowing owl|
|Fight song||FAU Fight Song|
|Colors||Blue and Red|
The logo and mascot of Florida Atlantic University's athletic teams is the burrowing owl. Owlsley is the name of the mascot for Florida Atlantic University. 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.
|Men's sports||Women's sports|
|Cross country||Cross country|
|Swimming and diving||Swimming and diving|
|Track and field†|
|† – Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor|
Florida Atlantic University fielded its first football team in 2001, coached by former 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 (now FCS) competition to Division I-A (now FBS), joining the Sun Belt Conference. Through the 2008 season, after eight years of competing in football, the Owls are 47–47 overall. In 2007 they competed in their first bowl game, the New Orleans Bowl, where they defeated the Memphis Tigers 44–27. In 2008, the Owls competed in their second straight bowl game, the Motor City Bowl, where they defeated the Central Michigan Chippewas by a score of 24–21.
In 2010, quarterback Rusty Smith became the first FAU player to be drafted.
The Owls' natural rival are the Florida International Golden Panthers, who are located just 50 miles from Florida Atlantic and also compete in Conference USA. The rivals meet annually in a conference match up named the Shula Bowl, after Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula. The first Shula Bowl was played in 2002 at the Miami Dolphins' Pro Player Stadium (now Hard Rock Stadium), and since alternated between FAU at Sun Life Stadium and FIU Stadium annually; the first game in the series at the Owls' new stadium was in 2012. FAU leads the all-time series ten games to four.
On December 5, 2011, the football program hired its second coach in its history; former University of Nebraska Defensive Coordinator, Carl Pelini. On December 16, 2013, the program hired its third coach in its history; Charlie Partridge.
On December 12, 2016, the program hired the fourth coach in program history; Lane Kiffin. Kiffin was formerly the head coach for the Oakland Raiders of the NFL, the University of Tennessee Volunteers, and the University of Southern California as well as the former Offensive Coordinator for the University of Alabama under Nick Saban.
Florida Atlantic Baseball fielded its first squad in 1981. Since inception FAU has had only three coaches. Kevin Cooney, most successful coach in school history, was the Florida Atlantic head baseball coach from 1988 through 2008. By many accounts, Cooney 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." Coach Cooney won his 800th career game on March 15, 2006, when FAU played Columbia. At FAU, Cooney won more than 700 games.
The Owls baseball team plays its home games at FAU Baseball Stadium.
Currently the Owls are coached by long-time assistant for Cooney, John McCormack. McCormack was an assistant under Cooney at FAU for 18 seasons.
30 years of Florida Atlantic baseball:
- 11 Regionals (1985, 1993, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2010, 2013, 2015, 2018)
- 1 Super Regional (2002)
- 6 Regular Season Conference Championships (1983, 1999, 2003, 2010, 2012, 2016)
- 2 Conference Tournament Championships (2004, 2013)
- NCAA record of 34 consecutive wins (February 19, 1999 – March 16, 1999)
- 290 student-athletes baseball scholarships
- 10 All-Americans
- 7 Freshmen All-Americans
- 67 players sign professionally
- 4 players reach the majors
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 to 1993 before joining the Atlantic Sun Conference when moving to Division I in the 1993–1994 season.
- December 1, 1998: FAU played Oklahoma State in the Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma. 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 Dusty May, in his first head coaching opportunity.
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.
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. 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).
Troy University 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 I-AA to D-IA in 2003.) Although FAU football has seen unprecedented success at such a rapid pace against Sun Belt competition, Troy had beaten FAU in all 3 of their football meetings, inciting 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.
Owlsley 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.
- 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 owl fingers 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! This is quickly followed by a circular motion of the owl fingers of the right hand over the head to represent a flying owl.
- 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 have traditionally worn red to support the athletics teams during rivalry games, made popular by the "Real Fans Wear Red" shirts and the "Bury the Burrow in Red" events (the Burrow is the nickname for FAU Arena). Fans wear FAU Blue or FAU Red for non-rivalry games.
FAU Owls home and road games for football and basketball can be heard locally (the "tri-county area" of South Florida - Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties) on ESPN 106.3 FM on the radio and on the station's webstream. The voice of Owls football is part-time ESPN's Ken LaVicka who shares commentary duties for Owls basketball with Palm Beach radio sportscaster Evan Cohen. All football and basketball games can be heard live on FAU's website, as well.
Occasional football and basketball games are broadcast 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.
Hall of Fame
The Florida Atlantic University Athletic Hall of Fame inducted its inaugural class of members in 2006.
Notable Hall of Famers
- "Florida Atlantic University Artsheet Guide" (PDF). May 4, 2018. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
- "Florida Atlantic hires Brian White as athletic director". The Washington Post. March 3, 2018.
- "President Johnson Dedicates Florida Atlantic University". FAU. Archived from the original on September 1, 2006. Retrieved May 18, 2006.
- "FAU/ FIU Football Trophy Named the Don Shula Award". cstv.com.
- "Baseball to kick off season Friday - Sports". The News Record. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved February 10, 2007.
- FAU Baseball Stadium at fausports.com, URL accessed June 28, 2010. Archived 06-28-10
- "2006-07 Florida Atlantic Basketball Media Guide - Sports" (PDF). FAU Athletics, p. 31. Retrieved January 14, 2007.
- "Broken Wings: Owls Left Out of NCAA Regional". cstv.com.
- https://web.archive.org/web/20070927193419/http://dnj.midsouthnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=%2F20070513%2FSPORTS%2F705130315%2F1006. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved May 14, 2007. Missing or empty
- "University Press : We have spirit, yes we do, we have spirit…wait, we do?". upressonline.com.
- https://web.archive.org/web/20111107122429/http://www.espn760.com/. Archived from the original on November 7, 2011. Retrieved November 26, 2011. Missing or empty
- "Florida Atlantic Hall of Fame". Florida Atlantic Owls official athletics site. Retrieved January 20, 2012.