Catanese Transformed Landscape of Athletics
By Space Coast Daily // July 5, 2013
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME
DR. ANTHONY CATANESE – 2012 INDUCTEE
• Founded Panther NCAA Football
• Driving Force For Tech Athletics
• Community Sports Advocate
IDEAS FROM CONCEPTION TO REALITY
In all of the years that Dr. Anthony Catanese has served as a college administrator his support for athletics has never wavered.
He has transformed the landscape of athletics at universities he has led as president and had his finger on the pulse of what is important to local communities and the day-to-day lives of the average sports fan.
Through his strong leadership at Florida Tech, Brevard County will now have 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.
Born in Beaver Falls, Pa. – the birthplace of legendary quarterback Joe Namath – Catanese grew up in New Jersey and became a fan of the New York Yankees and admired their winning tradition.
He played many sports as a child and his passion for athletics grew as he moved on to college completing undergraduate studies at Rutgers University, obtaining a master’s degree at New York University and earning a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
ATHLETICS SOURCE OF COMMUNITY PRIDE
Entering a career in college administration, Catanese was able to observe how athletics was a source of community pride while serving in various posts at the University of Florida, the University of Miami and at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
When he was given the opportunity to lead Florida Atlantic University in 1990, his determination was instrumental in the creation of the school’s NCAA Division I football program in 2001 and the hiring of its nationally prominent football coach Howard Schnellenberger.
Moving on to Florida Tech as president in 2002, Catanese has been the driving force in bosting the school’s athletic program to now offer competition in 21 sports, including lacrosse, track and field, swimming and diving and starting practices this fall for college football.
“We’re out to prove something here,” Catanese said. “We’re going to take smart young men and extend to them the opportunity to excel in both athletics and in the classroom.”
BOLD MEASURES FOR SUCCESS
And Catanese has taken bold measures to ensure Florida Tech’s football program will be successful from its inception, hiring a proven head coach in Steve Englehart, who holds the record at Indiana’s Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology for the highest winning percentage as a football coach in school history.
Despite the fact that there are no other NCAA Division II football schools in Florida, Catanese was adamant that Florida Tech would not field a smaller and less-competitive NAIA football program.
His intuition proved to be correct when Florida Tech was asked before ever playing a down to join college football’s NCAA Division II’s Gulf South Conference, which includes larger schools with winning football traditions such as Valdosta State University in Georgia, Delta State University in Mississippi and the University of North Alabama.
‘WE’RE GOING TO HAVE FUN’
Catanese is adament about the fans and players taking pride in this new community franchise.
“My vision for football at Florida Tech is to win a national championship,” Catanese said.
“We’ve proven we can do it. I think we can be very competitive and we’re going to have fun. It will be a source of pride for Brevard County and the Space Coast and hopefully will change the way we think about sports here. I couldn’t be more excited about the future for Florida Tech and for our community.”
THE 2014 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME Banquet and Induction Ceremony will take place at the Cocoa Beach Country Club on Friday, May 9, 2014.
FOR INFORMATION OR TO SUBMIT A NOMINATION to the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame call 321-615-8111 or e-mail MaverickMultimedia@gmail.com
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