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The Temple Owls are the athletic teams representing Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The school's sports teams are called the Owls. The current athletic director is Kevin Clark. The owl has been the symbol and mascot for Temple University since its founding in the 1880s. Temple was the first school in the United States to adopt the owl as its symbol or mascot. The owl, a nocturnal hunter, was initially adopted as a symbol because Temple University began as a night school for young people of limited means. Russell Conwell, Temple's founder, encouraged these students with the remark: "The owl of the night makes the eagle of the day."
The Owls are primarily members of the American Athletic Conference (The American). Since their football team participates in the NCAA's Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. The football program was a member of the Big East Conference until its expulsion after the 2004 season due to a variety of program shortcomings. Temple played a limited MAC schedule in 2005 and 2006 before becoming an affiliated football-only member and playing a full 8-game league schedule in 2007. The school's men's basketball team is part of the Big Five, the traditional designation for the rivalries between the Owls and their Philadelphia rivals: Penn, Saint Joseph's, Villanova, and La Salle. Temple considers the rivalry with St. Joe's to be the most intense, especially in basketball. St. Joe's, however, considers this rivalry to be secondary to their rivalry with Villanova.
The landscape of Temple sports has changed recently, thanks to a major realignment of Division I conferences. Temple football returned to the Big East in 2012, and then became a full member of the renamed American Athletic Conference in July 2013, after being a full member (non-football) of the A-10 since the early '80s.