Catanese Among Florida Tech Sports Hall of Fame Inductees

By  //  February 26, 2014

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FLORIDA TECH SPORTS HALL OF FAME PROFILE

Dr. Anthony J. Catanese, who will be inducted into the Florida Tech Sports Hall of Fame on Friday, has transformed the landscape of athletics at the university.  In 2012, Dr. Catanese was inducted in the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame for his vision and energy in making Florida Tech's athletic program among the best in America. (Florida Tech image)

Dr. Anthony J. Catanese, who will be inducted into the Florida Tech Sports Hall of Fame on Friday, has transformed the landscape of athletics at the university. In 2012, Dr. Catanese was inducted in the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame for his vision and energy in making Florida Tech’s athletic program among the best in America. (Florida Tech image)

Two Individuals, Two Teams To Be Inducted Friday, Event Presented By The Boeing Company

BREVARD  COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Two individuals and two teams will be inducted into the Florida Tech Sports Hall of Fame on Friday, Feb. 28 in the Hartley Room at the Denius Student Center on the FIT campus.

The newest members of the Florida Tech Sports Hall of Fame are FIT President and CEO Dr. Anthony J. Catanese, women’s golfer Daniela Iacobelli (’09), the 1981-82 Women’s Varsity Four and the 2001-02 Women’s Basketball Team. (Florida Tech image)

The newest members of the Florida Tech Sports Hall of Fame are FIT President and CEO Dr. Anthony J. Catanese, women’s golfer Daniela Iacobelli (’09), the 1981-82 Women’s Varsity Four and the 2001-02 Women’s Basketball Team. (Florida Tech image)

The newest members of the Florida Tech Sports Hall of Fame are FIT President and CEO Dr. Anthony J. Catanese, women’s golfer Daniela Iacobelli (’09), the 1981-82 Women’s Varsity Four and the 2001-02 Women’s Basketball Team.

The event, presented by The Boeing Company, will begin with a reception at 6 p.m. EST and the dinner and program will follow at 7 p.m. EST.

CLICK HERE: The Sports Hall of Fame banquet will be video streamed live online free on Friday, starting at 6:45 p.m. 

The Florida Tech Sports Hall of Fame was established in 1986 to honor those who have made outstanding contributions to Florida Tech Athletics. Its purpose is to remember those who have brought distinction, honor and excellence to the University’s athletics program. Since it was organized, 41 individuals and five teams have been enshrined.

STARTING TODAY, the Class of 2014 will be featured daily with a story on SpaceCoatDaily.com, courtesy of Florida Tech.

Catanese’s Vision for FIT Athletics Leads to Sports Hall of Fame Induction

BY CARL KOTALA

When Dr. Anthony J. Catanese came to Florida Tech in July 2002, he looked over the landscape of the school’s athletics programs and had a vision.

Florida tech president  Dr. Anthony J. Catanese.spoke Friday at the university's dedication of a new research park in Melbourne. (Image courtesy of Florida Tech)

Florida tech president Dr. Anthony J. Catanese.spoke Friday at the university’s dedication of a new research park in Melbourne. (Image courtesy of Florida Tech)

“I thought there was a lot of room for growth here,” the school’s president and CEO said.

Over the course of nearly 12 years, Florida Tech Athletics has grown from having 10 programs to 22. Dr. Catanese has added football, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s lacrosse, women’s soccer, men’s and women’s swimming, men’s and women’s tennis, and men’s and women’s track & field.

For helping transform Florida Tech Athletics and taking the Panthers to new heights, Dr. Catanese will be inducted into the Florida Tech Sports Hall of Fame on Friday, Feb. 28.

Though he has received a number of honors through the years, the only active school president to start two NCAA football programs is truly honored for this recognition.

FIT-hall_of_fame_logo-180“This one is very special to me because this one is (voted on) by my peers, people that I work with every day,” Dr. Catanese said. “That means a lot to me. It’s wonderful to be recognized by outside groups, but to be recognized by your own people … that’s special. I really am very honored by this. It’s very important to me.”

In addition to the tremendous growth of the sports program, he has helped enhance the institution’s athletic facilities with the addition of the Panther Aquatic Center for swimming, the Varsity Training Center for football and all sports, the soon-to-be Tim Wakefield Batting Cage for baseball and softball, and the installation of lights at both Andy Seminick-Les Hall Field and Rick Stottler Field.

Tony Catanese played baseball and football as a youngster and thanks to an uncle who was into boxing, he also did some amateur fighting as a middleweight in the Golden Gloves. He also studied the martial arts and while he hated running in his younger days, he has now competed in 37 marathons. (Image for SpaceCoastDaily.com)

Tony Catanese played baseball and football as a youngster and thanks to an uncle who was into boxing, he also did some amateur fighting as a middleweight in the Golden Gloves. He also studied the martial arts and while he hated running in his younger days, he has now competed in 37 marathons. (Image for SpaceCoastDaily.com)

Growing up a college sports fan in New Brunswick, N.J., home of Rutgers University, Dr. Catanese remembers what a big deal it was to go to a Scarlet Knights game.

“To me, going to Rutgers games was everything,” he said. “I mean, it was the pros. It was better than the (New York) Yankees, or the (New York) Giants.”

He played baseball and football as a youngster and thanks to an uncle who was into boxing, he also did some amateur fighting as a middleweight in the Golden Gloves. He also studied the martial arts and while he hated running in his younger days, he has now competed in 37 marathons.

So while some people talk the talk … Dr. Catanese doesn’t just walk it. He runs it.

SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME:

Catanese Transformed Landscape of Athletics

Florida Tech teams have won one NCAA Division II Individual National Championship, two NCAA Division II South Region Team Championships, eight Sunshine State Conference titles and qualified for 59 NCAA Division II Championships over the past 11 years.

The Panthers have also helped Dr. Catanese achieve several goals. One is that it is possible for a technological university like Florida Tech to not only have smart kids, but good athletes as well.

Through Dr. Anthony Catanese's strong leadership at Florida Tech, Brevard County now has a college football program to embrace and call its own, which is a testament to the ability of Catanese to move ideas from the conceptual stage to reality.

Through Dr. Anthony Catanese’s strong leadership at Florida Tech, Brevard County now has a college football program to embrace and call its own, which is a testament to the ability of Catanese to move ideas from the conceptual stage to reality.

“I’ve got to give credit to the coaches, because they understand that,” Dr. Catanese said. “I’ve been very impressed with the academic quality of the athletes they’ve been recruiting.”

Florida Tech has also seen a big increase in the number of female student-athletes since Dr. Catanese arrived. Of the 12 sports he has added, six are women’s sports.

Though he had already started football at Florida Atlantic, Dr. Catanese said it was a conversation he had with a couple of potential students that really helped inspire him to bring the sport to Florida Tech.

“The first year I was here, we were recruiting a couple of kids, and they said, ‘You know, I really like this place, but you don’t have football … so it’s just not a real college,’” Dr. Catanese said.

“That stuck with me. I could understand that. A 17 or 18-year-old kid wants to go to college, they want to experience college; and football is such an intrinsic part of the college experience. I knew we’d have to have football. It took me a while to get there. I had to convince a lot of people, and it wasn’t easy.”

GREAT SPORTS, TOP ACADEMIC RANKING

The success of this past season, and the promise of the future show Dr. Catanese’s vision has been the right one…and not just for the athletics program.

Florida Tech has an academic ranking in the top 200 of the London Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings for 2013-14 and was also named a “Best Buy” in college education by Barron’s Guide. The university has also been rated a Tier One Best National University by U.S. News & World Report … a big jump from its Tier Three rating 10 years ago.

Florida Tech has an academic ranking in the top 200 of the London Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings for 2013-14 and was also named a “Best Buy” in college education by Barron’s Guide.

FLORIDA-TECH-180-12The university has also been rated a Tier One Best National University by U.S. News & World Report … a big jump from its Tier Three rating 10 years ago.

So not only is Florida Tech drawing in more athletes than when Dr. Catanese arrived, they’re also playing a role in the university’s increasingly high academic profile.

“I think we’re making our point,” Dr. Catanese said. “We’ve had some pretty good teams, and you have smart kids playing athletics.”

CLICK HERE: The Sports Hall of Fame banquet will be video streamed live online free on Friday, starting at 6:45 p.m.


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