Rice University athletic teams are known as the Rice Owls. The name comes from the owls in Rice's crest. Rice participates in NCAA Division I athletics. A member of Conference USA, Rice sponsors teams in seven men's and seven women's NCAA sanctioned sports. Rice was a member of the Southwest Conference until its breakup in 1996. Rice then joined the Western Athletic Conference before joining C-USA on July 1, 2005. Rice is the fifth-smallest school competing in NCAA Division I FBS football measured by undergraduate enrollment, just above the University of Tulsa's 2,756 and the three FBS United States service academies's approximate 4,500. Rice's sports rivalry include cross-town University of Houston, and Tulane University.
|Men's sports||Women's sports|
|Football||Swimming and diving|
|Tennis||Track & field†|
|Track & field†||Volleyball|
|† – Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor.|
The Rice baseball team is the school's top athletic program and one of the NCAA's top baseball programs, having won 20 straight conference championships dating back to 1996. The Owls won the College World Series in 2003 and finished third in both the 2006 and 2007 College World Series tournaments. Rice now had made 23 straight NCAA tournament appearances. The team has played at on-campus Reckling Park since the 2000 season.
The Owls play at an on-campus football facility, Rice Stadium, which was the site of Super Bowl VIII and a speech by John F. Kennedy on September 12, 1962 in which he challenged the nation to send a man to the moon by the end of the decade. Rice Stadium opened in 1950 with a capacity of 70,000 seats. After improvements in 2006, the stadium is currently configured to seat 47,000 for football but can be readily reconfigured to its original capacity of 70,000, more than the total number of Rice alumni, living and deceased.
The Owls began playing football in 1914 as a member of the Southwest Conference. Until 1950, when Rice Stadium was completed, they played at Rice Field, the site of which is now Rice Track/Soccer Stadium. During its first 40 years, Rice's football program was a regional and national powerhouse. By the early 1960s, the program found it difficult to compete against schools that were ten times its size or more—and in some cases, had more freshmen than Rice had undergraduates. In 2006, the football team played in the New Orleans Bowl, the first time the team had gone to a bowl game since 1961, ending the second-longest bowl drought in the country at the time.
The Rice Owls play in the Western Division of Conference USA and was coached by David Bailiff until the end of the 2017 season.
The Rice Owls finished the 2008 Regular season with a 9-3 overall record (7-1 C-USA)--the first time they won more than seven games in over 40 years—and accepted a bid to play against Western Michigan University in the Texas Bowl on December 30 where they came away with a 38-14 victory for their first bowl victory since 1954.
At the end of the 2008 season wide receiver Jarett Dillard was named a 2nd Team All-American by the Football Writers Association, the first Rice Owl selected in 50 years. He has also been named an All-American by Sports Illustrated, CBSSports.com (where he was joined by fellow owls Chase Clement and James Casey), and Walter Camp.
|Bowl Game History||Result|
|1938 Cotton Bowl Classic||Rice 28 Colorado 14|
|1947 Orange Bowl||Rice 8 Tennessee 0|
|1950 Cotton Bowl Classic||Rice 27 North Carolina 13|
|1954 Cotton Bowl Classic||Rice 28 Alabama 6|
|1958 Cotton Bowl Classic||Rice 7 Navy 20|
|1961 Sugar Bowl||Rice 6 Ole Miss 14|
|1961 Bluebonnet Bowl||Rice 7 Kansas 33|
|2006 New Orleans Bowl||Rice 17 Troy 41|
|2008 Texas Bowl||Rice 38 Western Michigan 14|
|2012 Armed Forces Bowl||Rice 33 Air Force 14|
|2013 Liberty Bowl||Rice 7 Mississippi State 44|
|2014 Hawaii Bowl||Rice 30 Fresno State 6|
Rice's men's basketball teams won 10 conference titles in the former Southwest Conference (1918, 1935*, 1940, 1942*, 1943*, 1944*, 1945, 1949*, 1954*, 1970; * denotes shared title). Most recently, guard Morris Almond was selected in the 2007 NBA draft by the Utah Jazz.
Rice has been more successful in their women's sports. In 2004-05, Rice sent its women's volleyball, soccer, and basketball teams to their respective NCAA tournaments. In 2005-06, the women's soccer, basketball, and tennis teams advanced to NCAA tournaments, and five individuals competed at the national championships in outdoor track and field. In 2006-07, the Rice women's basketball team made the NCAA tournament, while four Rice women's outdoor track and field athletes received individual NCAA berths, two of them earning All-America honors. In 2008-09, the Rice women's volleyball team went to NCAA playoffs again, where they played Wichita State in 08 and TCU 09.
In 2013, 2014, 2015 the Rice women's swimming team sent multiple swimmers to the NCAA Women's Division I Swimming and Diving Championships hosted in Indianapolis, Ind.
Founded in 1968, the Rice Rugby Football Club plays college rugby in Division I-AA in the Southwest Conference (SWC) against its traditional rivals such as the University of Houston. Rice have been led since 2007 by Head Coach Mario Botha, who formerly played professional rugby in South Africa. Rice won the Southwest Conference with a 6-0 conference record in 2013, advancing to the Division I-AA national playoffs. Previously, Rice finished second in the Southwest Conference in 2012, losing 36-26 to the University of Texas in the conference championship.
Rice Rugby had a successful period during the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, winning multiple Texas championships and producing players such as Mike Glass ('87) and Brannan Smoot ('89) who went on to play for the U.S. national rugby team. Rice rugby has been supported since 1996 by the Rice Rugby Alumni Association, which established an endowment fund in 1999 and since then has provided financial support to the team. Rice Rugby advanced to the national playoffs in the spring of 1997 and again in the spring of 2000.
In addition to football, Rice Stadium also serves as the performance venue for the university's Marching Owl Band, or "MOB." Despite its name, the MOB is a scatter band which focuses on performing humorous skits and routines rather than traditional formation marching. Prior to the dissolution of the Southwest Conference, the MOB had a lesser rivalry with the "Fightin' Texas Aggie Band" from Texas A&M.
Rice's mascot is Sammy the Owl. In previous decades, the university kept several live owls on campus in front of Lovett College, but this practice has been discontinued.
Rice also has a fourteen-member coed cheerleading squad and an all-female dance team, both of which perform at football and basketball games throughout the year.
|Rice Stadium||Football||47,000 (expandable to 70,000)|
|Tudor Fieldhouse||Basketball, Volleyball||5,000|
|Wendel D. Ley Track & Holloway Field||Track and Field, Soccer||1,500|
|George R. Brown Tennis Center||Tennis||600|
|Rice Aquatics Center Natatorium||Swimming||300|