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The Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Owls are a relatively new athletic program. The University was founded in 1961, and started intercollegiate play in the NAIA in 1979, fielding golf and tennis teams, later joining the NCAA Division II in 1983 and moved up to Division I in 1993.
As with most college athletic departments, FAU’s primary sport is football. The Owls football program started competition in 2001 and the university moved into the Sun Belt Conference just three years later. FAU has been fortunate to have fairly high profile coaches, starting with the first Howard Schnellenberger who won a national championship at near by University of Miami, and rejuvenated the University of Louisville football program that was near the brink in the mid 1980s.
After Schellenberger, FAU struggled under Carl Pelini and Charlie Partridge. In late 2016, the Owls hired Lane Kiffin, who was then a successful offensive coordinator for perennial national contender Alabama. In Kiffin’s first season, FAU won the Sun Belt Conference Championship. Because FAU plays in Florida, a hotbed for high school talent, many believe it has the chance to be a long-term success in Division I football.
Outside of football, FAU has had intermittent success. The men’s basketball won the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship in 2002, making it’s only NCAA Tournament appearance. Four years later, the women’s basketball team appeared in the NCAA Tournament. In 2010, the baseball team also won the Conference championship. The softball team is the most successful team, winning nine Atlantic Sun Conference titles in ten years and the 2007 Sun Belt Conference title.
Many people are not familiar with the young, small, state university in Boca Raton. Florida Atlantic has a strong history of serving its community in Palm Beach County, and Owls fans are slowly building their traditions, with Owls football leading the way.