North Florida Ospreys
|North Florida Ospreys|
|University||University of North Florida|
|Conference(s)||Atlantic Sun Conference|
|NCAA Division I|
|Athletic director||Lee Moon|
|Basketball arena||UNF Arena|
|Baseball stadium||Harmon Stadium|
|Soccer stadium||Hodges Stadium|
|Other arenas||Hayt Golf Learning Center|
|Fight song||UNF Fight Song|
|Colors||UNF Blue and Gray
The North Florida Ospreys are the athletic teams of the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida. The Ospreys compete in the Atlantic Sun Conference in NCAA Division I. UNF is in its fourth academic year as a full-fledged member of Division I; previously, the Ospreys were members of the Sunshine State Conference and Peach Belt Conference in NCAA Division II. UNF fields teams in seven men's sports and ten women's sports.
The University of North Florida's intercollegiate athletics program began in 1983, originally as a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The Ospreys joined NCAA Division II in 1993, the same year the UNF Arena opened. Initially, UNF competed in the Sunshine State Conference, and then in 1997 moved to the Peach Belt Conference. In 2005, the Ospreys began the transition to Division I, joining the Atlantic Sun Conference. The transition's final year was the 2008-09 season, with UNF becoming tournament eligible beginning in the 2009-10 season.
UNF is a non-football school. However, the prospect of an Osprey football team is a popular topic among students and the community. In 2013, UNF President John Delaney revealed the school would begin preliminary discussions about adding the sport.
UNF won the Sunshine State Conference's all-sports title four times and won four NAIA national titles—men's golf in 1991 and 1993, and women's tennis in 1986 and 1994. UNF's first Division I conference title came in 2008 when the men's golf team captured the Atlantic Sun crown.
In February 2009, UNF hired Lee Moon to be the new athletic director. He is UNF's sixth athletic director and previously worked at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Wyoming, and Marshall University. Since taking over UNF athletics, he has made many staff changes to move the program forward.
UNF's men's and women's soccer, track and field, and cross country teams play at Hodges Stadium. The stadium's track, completed in 2008, is one of only seven in the country certified by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). The men's and women's basketball and women's volleyball teams play in UNF Arena. The baseball team plays at Harmon Stadium, while the softball team plays in the Softball Complex. The men's golf team utilizes the Hayt Golf Learning Center. The women's swimming and diving teams utilize the Aquatic Center. The men's and women's tennis teams play at the Tennis Complex.
The move to Division I represented a monumental step towards improving athletics for the future. Facilities upgrades have also been planned. On September 2, 2008 the University announced plans for UNF Varsity Village. The project will cost an estimated $30 million which will provide two new facilities and upgrades to existing facilities. The two new facilities will be a student wellness and sports education center, and a new baseball stadium with a seating capacity of 3,000. The existing stadium, Harmon Stadium will be renovated to include 1,200 seats and used for softball. Other improvements include upgrades to the Arena and Hodges Stadium.
UNF's baseball program was founded in 1988. The team was established under the leadership of Dusty Rhodes, who served as head coach from 1988–2010. Since its inception the Ospreys baseball team has won thirteen conference titles and made a total of sixteen playoff appearances: six in the NAIA and ten in NCAA Division II. They went to the NAIA World Series in 1989 and 1991 and the NCAA Division II World Series in 2000, 2001, and 2005, advancing to the final in 2005.
Notably, the team's former logo is similar to the New York Yankees logo. It was designed in 1986 at the urging of Dusty Rhodes and continued, and brought extra attention to the baseball program. It was discontinued after Rhodes' retirement in 2010 and replaced with a new logo for the 2011 season.
The North Florida Ospreys men's basketball and women's basketball teams began play in the 1992-1993 season. Matthew Driscoll is the current and fourth overall head coach of the men's basketball team. He was hired in 2009, just before UNF's completion of their transition into Division I play.
Mary Tappmeyer is the head coach of the women's basketball team, and has been since the program's inception in 1992. They made the NCAA Division II Tournament twice, in 2003 and 2004. They were 2009-2010 A-Sun Conference runner-ups.
The men's cross country team has earned 4 conference titles in Division II, 3 of which came while UNF was in the Sunshine State Conference (1994–1996), and the fourth came in 2000 during their time in the Peach Belt Conference.
The women's cross country team has earned 5 conferences title in Division II, 3 in the Sunshine State Conference (1994–1996), and two in the Peach Belt Conference (2001, 2003). They won their first A-Sun conference title in 2010.
The men's golf team earned UNF's first Division I conference title in 2008. They use UNF's on-campus Hayt Golf Learning Center, which has a three hole course and driving range.
NAIA National Titles (2): 1991, 1993
NCAA Division II Regional Appearances (5): 1999-2002, 2008
NCAA Division II Championship Appearances (1): 2000
NCAA Division I Championship Appearances (2): 2012, 2013
A women's golf team was recently announced to be added, and will begin play in 2012.
A women's sand volleyball team will be added in Spring of 2012, and current volleyball head coach Kevin Campbell will lead the new team.
Osprey Softball competes at home at the UNF Softball Complex, next to Harmon Stadium. They have a 619-24 all-time record (as of 2009).
NCAA Division II Tournament Appearances (7): 1999-2005
Swimming & diving
Women's swimming & diving competes in the Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association.
Track & field
UNF Track & Field hosted the 2009 Atlantic Sun Conference Championships at Hodges Stadium, the first Division I Conference Championship hosted at UNF.
Women's volleyball at UNF began in 1991, and have an overall record of 401-178 (as of 2008). They play their home games at UNF Arena. They won eight Peach Belt Conference championships, between 1997-2004.
Traditions and rivalries
"The Swoop" is a key UNF tradition, similar in principle to UF's Gator Chomp or FSU's Tomahawk Chop as the recognized gesture to show school spirit. It simulates the movement of an Osprey flying through the "swooping" of a fan's arms. "Swoop" is also an acronym that stands for Students With Outstanding Osprey Pride.
North Florida's most notable rivalry is with crosstown opponents the Jacksonville University Dolphins. The two universities contest the "River City Rumble", in which the school with the most wins over the other across all sports receives a trophy, the SunTrust Old Wooden Barrel. UNF has been on the losing end of the men's basketball rivalry; at the close of the 2010–2011 regular season, North Florida was 1–13 against Jacksonville. The series was so one-sided that North Florida coach Driscoll refused to call it a rivalry until the Ospreys had won. This changed when North Florida finally defeated the Dolphins in the 2011 A-Sun quarterfinals in one of the young program's most significant wins.
Osprey basketball and baseball games can be heard on 105.7FM in Jacksonville.
- Justin Barney (January 15, 2012). "UNF exploring possibility of adding football". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
- http://www.unfospreys.com/sports/2007/11/14/aboutunf.aspx 2008 Men's Golf Title
- "UNF Athletics Facilities: Hodges Stadium". University of North Florida Ospreys. unfospreys.com. Retrieved November 8, 2010.
- "2011 North Florida Baseball" (pdf). unfospreys.com. University of North Florida. 2011. Retrieved February 14, 2011.
- "UNF Adding Women's Golf in 2012-13".
- "UNF Athletics Adding Sand Volleyball as Varsity Sport".
- Gene Frennette (January 27, 2011). "Gene Frenette: Coaches Matthew Driscoll, Cliff Warren elevate UNF-JU rivalry". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
- "Suntrust River City Rumble". unfospreys.com. University of North Florida. Retrieved November 2, 2011.
- Gene Frenette (March 3, 2011). "UNF basketball takes huge step in finally beating Dolphins". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
- Jeff Elliott (March 3, 2011). "UNF beats JU in Atlantic Sun Tournament". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved December 16, 2011.