Guest Commentary: Howard Schnellenberger
As Monarchos and 17 other three-year olds take aim on the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby, a few of us at the office plus Beverlee and the kids will be celebrating President Catanese's dream of football at Florida Atlantic University-the idea that began to germinate three years ago-as well as our 42nd wedding anniversary. Celebrating these two events, perhaps we're due for an accounting of all that has transpired over three years.
Let's see what God has wrought. $13 million has been raised by the 100 Centurion Founders and 1,500 Owl Fund boosters. Ten coaches have been joined by an equipment manager, two trainers, an academic advisor, a sports information director, three secretaries, two fund raisers, a special events coordinator, and three ticket sales directors. We've hired marketing, advertising, and public relations teams.
Capitalizing on our recruiting advantage and giving evidence that the annexation of the Florida Atlantic Territory is complete, our coaches outstripped all expectations by bringing 55 of South Florida's finest players to FAU. These scholarship athletes were joined by more than 200 walk on players (whose tuition, room, board, and other college expenses exceed $2 million.)
The recently dedicated Tom Oxley Athletic Center is a 60,000 sq. ft. $8 million structure that gives football and all sports a competitive edge in recruitment. It has galvanized our sports teams in their efforts to be the best.
By products of this flurry of activity include the gift from Hooters that allowed Joan Joyce to build the softball stadium of her dreams. And, the relocation and refurbishment of Kevin Cooney's alternate baseball stadium put his facilities in a class all their own.
Inroads have been made in our communication efforts. "Radio Free Florida Atlantic" enjoys a run of several years with a one-hour show dedicated to Owls sports. Six coach's tv shows aired and four editions of the FAU Sports Digest have been distributed to upwards of 35,000 fans. Our golf tournament has evolved in to the annual Weekend in Paradise Golf and Fishing Tournament.
Pro Player Stadium has been secured as our home for at least three years in anticipation of the move to our campus location by the end of the term. Eleven attractive Division I-AA and Division II football opponents have signed on with seven of those games to be played on our home field and with the inaugural game scheduled for September 1 at 4:00 p.m.
As we stop to reflect on our aggressive time line, we find ourselves well
ahead of the game and in a much stronger position than even the most
optimistic of us could have prayed for. To be continued...