Rice Owls
UniversityRice University
ConferenceThe American
NCAADivision I (FBS)
Athletic directorTommy McClelland
LocationHouston, Texas
Varsity teams14
Football stadiumRice Stadium
Basketball arenaTudor Fieldhouse
Baseball stadiumReckling Park
MascotSammy the Owl
Fight songRice Fight
ColorsBlue and gray[1]

The Rice Owls are the sports teams representing Rice University in college sports. The name comes from the owls in Rice's crest. Rice participates in NCAA Division I athletics. A member of the American Athletic Conference, 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 and Conference USA, until joining the American Athletic Conference on July 1, 2023.[2][3] The women's swimming team moved to The American in 2022 after C-USA dropped women's swimming & diving.[4] 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 rivals include the cross-town Houston Cougars.

Conference affiliations


Sports sponsored

Men's sports Women's sports
Baseball Basketball
Basketball Cross country
Cross country Soccer
Football Swimming[a]
Golf Tennis
Tennis Track & field
Track & field Volleyball
† – Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor


Main article: Rice Owls baseball

Owls baseball players celebrate a home run during a 2023 game at Reckling Park

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.[5] The Owls won the College World Series in 2003 and finished third in both the 2006 and 2007 College World Series tournaments.[6] Rice now has made 23 straight NCAA tournament appearances.[as of?] The team has played at on-campus Reckling Park since the 2000 season.[7]


Main article: Rice Owls football

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,[8] more than the total number of Rice alumni, living and deceased.[9]

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.

In 2013, Rice finally won its first outright football conference championship since 1957, when it defeated Marshall in the Conference USA championship game.

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
2022 LendingTree Bowl Rice 24 Southern Miss 38

Men's basketball

Main article: Rice Owls men's basketball

Members of the Rice Owls men's basketball team during a game at Tudor Fieldhouse in 2022

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.

Women's basketball

Main article: Rice Owls women's basketball

The Rice women's basketball team has achieved great success in recent years, having most recently won the 2021 Women's National Invitation Tournament after having won the Conference USA regular-season title in that season. The Owls' most recent NCAA tournament appearance was in 2019, when they won the Conference USA Tournament.

Women's sports

Rice has been more successful in its 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.

Women's swimming

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.

Men's tennis

Sam Match won the NCAA doubles championship with Rice University along with his doubles partner Bob Curtis in 1947.[10]

The Owls were team runner-ups in the 1968 and 1970 NCAA men's tennis championship. [11]

Notable non-varsity sports


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.[12] Rice won the Southwest Conference with a 6–0 conference record in 2013, advancing to the Division I-AA national playoffs.[13] Previously, Rice finished second in the Southwest Conference in 2012, losing 36–26 to the University of Texas in the conference championship.[12]

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.[14] 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.[14] Rice Rugby advanced to the national playoffs in the spring of 1997 and again in the spring of 2000.[14]


Rice has men's and women's ultimate teams. The women's team, named Torque, won consecutive national championships in Division III in 2014 and 2015.[15]


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.


Facility Sport(s) Capacity
Rice Stadium Football 47,000 (expandable to 70,000)
Tudor Fieldhouse Basketball, Volleyball 5,208
Reckling Park Baseball 7,000
Wendel D. Ley Track and Holloway Field Soccer, Track & Field 1,500
George R. Brown Tennis Center Tennis 600
Rice Aquatics Center Natatorium Swimming 300

See also


  1. ^ The NCAA classifies swimming and diving as a single sport. However, Rice's aquatics program fields only swimmers.


  1. ^ Rice Athletics Branding Guidelines, Rules, & Regulations (PDF). August 19, 2019. Retrieved March 2, 2020.
  2. ^ "American Athletic Conference Announces the Addition of Six Universities" (Press release). American Athletic Conference. October 21, 2021. Retrieved October 21, 2021.
  3. ^ "American Announces Entrance Agreements With Incoming Members for 2023-24 Season" (Press release). American Athletic Conference. June 16, 2022. Retrieved June 16, 2022.
  4. ^ "American Announces Affiliate Members in Men's Soccer and Women's Swimming and Diving" (Press release). American Athletic Conference. May 4, 2022. Retrieved May 6, 2022.
  5. ^ "orangebloods swc records".
  6. ^ "Rice Athletics Media information".
  7. ^ "riceowls.com Reckling Park page".
  8. ^ "Rice University Facilities :: Official Athletic Site". riceowls.cstv.com. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  9. ^ "Rice Facts: Alumni". Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  10. ^ "Archives". Los Angeles Times. January 30, 2010.
  12. ^ a b This Is American Rugby, Rice University Owls are Determining their Own Fate, Feb, 26, 2013, http://www.thisisamericanrugby.com/2013/02/rice-university-owls-are-determining.html
  13. ^ Rice Rugby Club, Rice heads to Madison, WI for 2013 D1-AA Nationals, April 24, 2013, http://www.ricerugbyclub.com/news/riceheadstomadisonwifor2013d1-aanationals
  14. ^ a b c Rice University News & Media, Talent and success can be found on Rice's rugby field, October 12, 2000, http://news.rice.edu/2000/10/12/talent-and-success-can-be-found-on-rices-rugby-field/
  15. ^ "News". www.usaultimate.org. Retrieved November 6, 2017.