Rotary Happenings: FGCU athletic department big on talent, education and community
The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club was honored to have Florida Gulf Coast University Athletic Director Kenneth Kavanagh as our recent Friday morning guest speaker. He has helped the FGCU Eagles – comprised of 15 sports teams that represent the university in green and blue – reach college-level athletic successes across the board: men and women’s basketball, cross country, golf, soccer and tennis; women’s-only softball, swimming and diving, indoor volleyball, and sand volleyball; and men’s-only baseball. The Eagles compete in the NCAA Division I and are members of the Atlantic Sun Conference. FGCU is also notable as the youngest institution competing in NCAA Division I, having been officially founded in 1991 and started classes in 1997.
As athletic director, Kavanagh has supervised athletic programs at the university for the last 10 years with impressive results the Eagles winning 33 ASUN regular-season titles, 22 ASUN Tournament titles and eight Coastal Collegiate Sports Association championships in swimming and diving. Under his guidance, in just seven years of Division I postseason eligibility entering 2018-2019, FGCU has sent 22 teams to the NCAA Tournament. Men’s golf (2012, 2013 and 2015), swimming (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018) and men’s tennis (2014) have had individuals participate in their NCAA Championship, bringing the total NCAA appearances for FGCU to a 33 since 2011-2012.
His office is responsible for budgeting, promotion and scheduling for sports team and may coordinate with the student academic departments. He organizes transportation, supervisors coaches and guides sports teams to success indirectly. Athletic directors are charged with the task of hiring and firing coaches, as well as other athletic staffers in their organization.
In Kavanagh’s nine years, FGCU student-athletes have excelled in the classroom as the approximately 250 student-athletes achieved a record 3.35 term GPA in the spring of 2018, Eagle student-athletes have exceeded the FGCU undergraduate semester mark (2.99) for 18 consecutive semesters.
The Eagles have also have contributed more than 43,000 hours of community service the past nine years as part of enhanced efforts within the department’s NCAA Life Skills initiatives and have recently initiated the Wings Up Leadership Academy for FGCU student-athletes.
The athletics department of FGCU receives national attention:
The Eagles men’s basketball team is best known for their run in the 2013 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament, their first since moving up to Division I. In the Round of 64, the Eagles defeated the No. 2 seed Georgetown 7868. It was only the seventh time that a 15th seed has defeated a second seed, and the second-highest margin of victory for one. Two days later in the Round of 32, the Eagles defeated the No. 7 seed San Diego State 8171, becoming the first time a 15th seed has ever advanced to the Sweet 16. The school was referred to as “Dunk City” or “Florida Dunk Coast” on many media outlets such as ESPN and CBS due to their high-flying athletic finishing style.
After the Eagles Dunk City winning streak and the publicity the university received from all the media attention, the university saw a 35 percent increase in college applications overall. The athletic department does offer scholarships as part of the recruitment offerings to promising athletes, but grades do matter. FGCU athletes have not disappointed in this department.
Anyone know the name Chris Sale? Yes, that Chris Sale – major league pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, who still is very much connected to FGCU and its athletic leadership team. Sale isn’t the only FGCU baseball program alum in major league baseball. In 2017, Kutter Crawford was drafted in the 16th round draft by the Boston Red Sox.
The FGCU athletic department is high on athletic talent, high on education, high on spirit, and on their community. So, support your local college athletic teams and rally around their men and women’s sport teams. Start by buying a couple of tickets for their games and let the fun begin.
For information about the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club, visit sanibelrotary.org or www.facebook.com/sancaprotary. The club meets every Friday at 7 a.m. at the Dunes Golf and Tennis Club, at 949 Sand Castle Road, Sanibel; visitors are always welcome to attend.
The next guest speakers are ABC7 meteorologist Jordan Patrick on Sept. 21 and Assistant State Attorney Amira Fox on Sept. 28.