Rice University Athletics

Rice University is known for its strong academic program and highly successful graduates. However, many people don’t know that Rice University Athletics are part of the NCAA Division I conference. Rice is the second smallest school to compete in Division I football, which is an accomplishment in itself. The Rice University Athletics mascot is Sammy the Owl, and both the men’s and women’s sports teams go by the title of the Rice Owls.


Rice University Athletics The Rice University Athletics Department has secured one national championship over the course of the school’s history. This was the 2003 College World Series of baseball, during which Rice beat out Stanford for the title. The baseball team continues to perform well, winning at least 12 consecutive conference titles, and several top-three finishes in the national conference. The team enjoys practicing and competing in their on-campus facility, Reckling Park, which was built in 2000. Several Rice baseball players have gone on to play in the MLB, including Philip Humber, Jeff Niemann, and Wade Townsend.


Football is not one of the stronger sports among Rice University athletics. In fact, the team went a straight 45 years without qualifying for a single bowl game. In 2006, the team record qualified them for the New Orleans Bowl, but they lost to Troy with a staggering score of 41-17. Many faculty members have suggested abandoning the football program altogether, to help alleviate the school’s budget deficit, but head coach Todd Graham joined the program in 2006 with the hopes of sparking a “Rice Renaissance” by breathing some life back into the football team. Graham was successful in his efforts and handed the team over to David Bailiff who continues to lead the team to winning seasons. The team finally won a bowl game in 2008, when they defeated Western Michigan in the Texas Bowl.


The Rice University baseball team flourished in the 1940s, with six conference titles over the course of the decade. Unfortunately, this sport has proved to be a weak point in Rice University athletics in the more recent years. The low point would have to be the winless 2007-2008 season under the coaching of Willis Wilson. The only player who stands out from the bleak basketball history is point guard Morris Almond, who was drafted into the NBA in 2007 to play for the Utah Jazz.

What About Women’s Sports?

The Rice University Athletics Department has recently become a powerhouse when it comes to women’s sports. The volleyball, soccer, and basketball teams all made appearances in their respective NCAA tournaments during the 2004-2005 season, and the tennis and track and field teams continue to outperform expectations.

Although athletics are not a priority at Rice University, student athletes have ample opportunity to participate in the sports they love and remain active. The facilities on campus are impressive for such a small school, and the teams do their best as the underdog in the Division I conference. The size and scope of the athletics program reflects the desire of the student body to be healthy and well-rounded.