Welcome to Wave Nation

August 24, 2003

Geoffrey Shannon, <i>Hullabaloo</i> sports editor

Green Wave athletics may not have been the main reason you decided to enroll at Tulane, but somewhere along the line the athletics program influenced your decision to come here. Maybe you watched the Hawai'i Bowl during Christmas or maybe you were recruited by one of our head coaches. Maybe you just heard the name "Green Wave" and wondered what the heck it was exactly.

No matter how it happened, somewhere along the line Green Wave sports made a connection with you. So now that you have your toes wet in these Green Wave waters, it's time for the real swimming lesson. Welcome to your first class: Green Wave 101. Don't get scared now. Education breeds bold deeds, and nothing is bolder then painting your chest olive green and sky blue to support the Wave.

Gridiron basics

Since this is the South, Tulane's athletic history revolves heavily around its football team. This year marks the 110th anniversary of Green Wave gridiron action. Tulane first suited up Nov. 18, 1983 against the Southern Athletic Club, losing 12-0. The game is notable because Tulane Head Coach T. L. Blayne suited up and played for the Southern Athletic Club. Tulane finished the inaugural season 1-2.

Football hit its stride in the '30s, participating in the 1932 Rose Bowl against Southern Cal, a game Tulane lost 21-12 before a crowd of 75,562. The next year the Wave signed on as a charter member of the Southeastern Conference. In 1935 the Green Wave hosted the first ever Sugar Bowl at the old Tulane Stadium, located on what has now become the Aron Residences. In front of 22,026 fans Tulane defeated the Temple Owls 20-14.

The Wave returned to the Sugar Bowl in 1940, nearly upending eventual National Champion Texas A&M 14-13. Football suffered a bowl drought between 1941 and 1970 that saw several losing seasons and a withdrawal from the SEC, a move that would prove devastating for Tulane football. The team broke the 30-year skid in at 1970 Liberty Bowl, beating Colorado 17-3. Tulane participated in four more bowls as an Independent, losing in each game.

In 1975 the University tore down beloved Tulane Stadium and moved its operations to the Superdome, which is the home of Green Wave football today. Tulane joined Conference USA in 1995 as one of the 11 original members. In 1998 quarterback Shaun King led the Green Wave in its most successful season in the modern era, plowing through its schedule 12-0. The season was topped off with a Liberty Bowl victory and No. 7 national ranking.

Last year Head Coach Chris Scelfo led the Wave to an 8-5 record and a 36-28 victory over the University of Hawai'i Warriors. Tulane kicks off this season in the Superdome Sept. 1 against C-USA rival TCU.

All our happy green friends

Football is not the only team on Tulane's campus. The Green Wave Athletic Department oversees 300 student-athletes in 15 Division I-A sports, most of which have earned titles both in C-USA and in the NCAA. Women's volleyball and women's soccer head to battle in the fall. After suffering losing season through much of the '90s, Volleyball Head Coach Betsy Becker and her team are looking to make the jump this season and fight for a C-USA championship after finishing last year 19-4.

Over at the Barney Mintz Auxiliary Field, located behind the Reily Center, Soccer Head Coach Betsy Norman continues to build her program with a slew of freshman recruits. In the winter the action turns to Fogelman arena for the men's and women's basketball season. Tulane men's basketball has been up and down throughout its history. Wave basketball earned a name for itself in the early '90s when then Head Coach Perry Clark led the team to three NCAA and a five NIT appearances.

This year Head Coach Shawn Finney will be working with a young team to break the .500 mark for a second consecutive year. Women's basketball has become a perennial powerhouse under the guidance of Head Coach Lisa Stockton. She has led the team to nine consecutive NCAA appearances, and several of her players have entered the WNBA.

Spring means baseball fever in New Orleans. Green Wave has become a national contender under Head Coach Rick Jones, culminating with the school's first appearance in the College World Series in 2000. Known as the olympic sports, Tulane tennis, golf, cross country, and track and field engage in a year-long schedule. Men's and women's tennis play a full outdoor season.

Both teams have earned C-USA titles in the past year and have several players nationally ranked. Women's track and field runs an indoor and out season, while men's and women's cross-country kick off in the fall. Golf participates in a spring and fall season. This year brings the addition of women's swimming and diving to the Olympic sports. Tulane prides itself on the fact that it puts true student-athletes on the field every year.

Players in every sport consistently earn collegiate and national academic honors. Tulane's graduation rates are also among the highest in the nation. Football alone graduates 75 percent to 80 percent of their players yearly, blowing away almost every other Division I-A football program.

What's a Riptide?

Tulane's mascot has changed several times over the years. Originally Tulane used a Pelican on a surfboard. The surfing Pelican remained the mascot until 1955 when "Greenie," a rascally scamp decked out in a football uniform, was introduced. Other mascots have included the "Angry" Wave, Triton God of the Sea and "Gumby," a symbol kin to the Syracuse Orangeman.

Today the school has come full circle and returned to the mighty Pelican, renamed Riptide. He comes in several forms: traditional, stuffed and inflatable. Tulane is the only school out of 117 Division I-A programs that doesn't have a marching band, which is a shame because it hurts the game day atmosphere. Soundwave, a student run pep band that plays at football and basketball games, is looking to expand this season with the help of donations from alumni organizations.

The Athletics Department supports both a cheerleading squad and a dance team. The Green Wave's chief rival over the years has been the LSU Tigers, but the passion has eased a bit ever since LSU stopped facing Tulane in football ever year. The tension is still high for the LSU-Tulane rivalry in other sports like baseball and volleyball. Other rivals include Southern Miss, cross-town UNO, and next door Loyola once a year in the basketball "Battle for Uptown."

Just waiting for the bus

The school provides buses to the Superdome and Tad Gormley Stadium for football and for the occasional basketball game at the New Orleans Arena. The buses begin service approximately two hours before game time. All other venues are located on campus for easy fan access.

The promotions department has increased its incentives for student participation over the last few years, offering everything from T-shirts to $1 beer to crawfish, so there is always a reason to go to the game. So there it is, Green Wave athletics all wrapped up nice and easy for you. Now go. And remember, they do sell beer and a whole lot more at games down here in the Big Easy.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000