Alumni, faculty and presidents In 2006, the football team qualified for its first bowl game since 1961, ending the second-longest bowl drought in the country at the time. On December 22, 2006, Rice played in the New Orleans Bowl in New Orleans, Louisiana against the Sun Belt Conference champion, Troy. The Owls lost 41-17. The bowl appearance came after Rice had a 14-game losing streak from 2004–05 and went 1-10 in 2005. The streak followed an internally authorized 2003 McKinsey report that stated football alone was responsible for a $4 million deficit in 2002. Tensions remained high between the athletic department and faculty, as a few professors who chose to voice their opinion were in favor of abandoning the football program. The program success in 2006, the "Rice Renaissance," proved to be a revival of the Owl football program, quelling those tensions. David Bailiff took over the program in 2007 and has remained head coach. Jarett Dillard set an NCAA record in 2006 by catching a touchdown pass in 13 consecutive games and took a 15-game overall streak into the 2007 season.
In 2008, the football team posted a 9-3 regular season, capping off the year with a 38-14 victory over Western Michigan University in the Texas Bowl. The win over Western Michigan marked the Owls' first bowl win in 45 years.
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 that focuses on performing humorous skits and routines rather than traditional formation marching.
Rice Owls men's basketball 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 drafted in the first round of the 2007 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz. Rice recently named former Cal Bears head coach Ben Braun as head basketball coach to succeed Willis Wilson, fired after Rice finished the 2007-2008 season with a winless (0-16) conference record and overall record of 3-27.
Rice has been very successful in women's sports in recent years. 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, with five individuals competing in track and field. In 2006-07, the Rice women's basketball team made the NCAA tournament, while again five Rice track and field athletes received individual NCAA berths. In 2008, the women's volleyball team again made the NCAA tournament. In 2011 the Women's Swim team won their first conference championship in the history of the university. This was an impressive feat considering they won without having a diving team.
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, due to public pressure over the welfare of the owls.
Rice also has a 12-member coed cheerleading squad and an all-female dance team, both of which perform at football and basketball games throughout the year.
Main article: List of Rice University people
As of 2011, Rice has graduated 98 classes of students consisting of 51,961 living alumni. Over 100 students at Rice have been Fulbright Scholars, 20 Marshall Scholars, 25 Mellon Fellows, 12 Rhodes Scholars, 6 Udall Scholars, and 65 Watson Fellows, among several other honors and awards.
Rice's distinguished faculty and alumni consists of 3 Nobel laureates, 2 Pulitzer Prize award winners, 6 Fulbright Scholars, 29 Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Recipients, 8 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1 member of the American Philosophical Society, 35 Guggenheim Fellowships, 17 members of the National Academy of Engineering, 7 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 5 fellows of the National Humanities Center, and 86 fellows of the National Science Foundation.
Alumni of Rice have occupied top positions in business, including Thomas H. Cruikshank, the former CEO of Halliburton; John Doerr, billionaire and venture capitalist; Howard Hughes; and Fred C. Koch.
In government and politics, Rice alumni include Alberto Gonzales, former Attorney General; Charles Duncan, former Secretary of Energy; William P. Hobby, Jr.; John Kline; George P. Bush; Josh Earnest, White House Press Secretary for President Obama; Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for President Obama and Annise Parker, the 61st Mayor of Houston.
Rice alumni who became prominent writers include Larry McMurtry, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Oscar-winning writer of the screenplay for Brokeback Mountain; Joyce Carol Oates, who was once a doctoral candidate in English; John Graves, author of Goodbye to a River: and Candace Bushnell, author of Sex and the City, who attended for three semesters.
Notable entrepreneurs who graduated from Rice include Tim and Karrie League, founders of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and Drafthouse Films; and Brock Wagner and Kevin Bartol, founders of Saint Arnold Brewing Company.
In science and technology, Rice alumni include 14 NASA astronauts; Robert Curl, Nobel Prize-winning discoverer of fullerene; Robert Woodrow Wilson, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation; and David Eagleman, celebrity neuroscientist and NYT bestselling author. NASA former Apollo 11 and 13 warning systems engineer and motivational speaker Jerry Woodfill.
Rice athletes include Lance Berkman, Bubba Crosby, Harold Solomon, Frank Ryan, Tommy Kramer, Jose Cruz, Jr., O.J. Brigance, Tony Cingrani, Anthony Rendon, Leo Rucka, as well as three Olympians.
Notable Rice University People
Annise Parker, class of 1978, 61st Mayor of Houston
Alberto Gonzales, class of 1979, former U.S. Attorney General
James Baker, U.S. Secretary of State and founding chair of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy
Richard Smalley, professor of chemistry and physics, winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Peggy Whitson, class of 1986, NASA astronaut
Lance Berkman, class of 1997, All-Star Major League baseball player, most notably for the Houston Astros
Howard Hughes, aviator, engineer, industrialist, film producer and director
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