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Florida Atlantic Owls
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 Conference USA.
Despite its status as a mid-major university, Florida Atlantic has attracted high profile coaches for various sports, including Howard Schnellenberger for football and Mike Jarvis for basketball. Former coaches include Matt Doherty, Rex Walters, and Sidney Green. The Director of Athletics is Patrick Chun. 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.
Florida Atlantic University fielded its first football team in 2001, coached by 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.