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From the moment Stetson students first gathered to play an intramural football game in 1894, athletics has been rooted in the history of Stetson University. For more than 125 years, the Hatters have been the flag bearers for one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the South.  Our programs have delivered some amazing moments on the field, our students have soared high in the classroom, and our alumni have gone on to make an impact on the world.  Our proud history, our challenge to compete at the highest level, our desire to build beautiful facilities, and our commitment to a championship culture make us who we are today.

What is a Hatter?  Perhaps the most aptly named mascot in all of college athletics, the label “Hatters” reflects the university’s association with John B. Stetson, maker of the well-known Stetson hats. When Stetson University played the first intercollegiate football game in Florida in 1901, the name “Hatters” was used for the first time, and it has been our beloved brand ever since.

In addition to playing the first football game in Florida, the Hatters played the state’s first intercollegiate baseball game in 1895 and the first intercollegiate basketball game in 1900.  All part of the great history of “Florida’s First Private University.” The Hatters later became the first college basketball team in the state of Florida to win 1000 games.  In 2012, Stetson was one of a select few founding programs for the first season of collegiate beach volleyball, and the Hatters competed in the first NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship in 2016.  

Throughout our storied past, we have challenged our student-athletes to compete at the highest level. We have proudly been an NCAA Division I institution since 1971 and a member of the ASUN Conference since 1985.  Today, our 18 intercollegiate sports (baseball, beach volleyball, men’s and women’s cross country, football, men’s and women’s golf, women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s rowing, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s tennis, softball and indoor volleyball) and cheerleading are the heart of Hatter athletics.

Just as Stetson University is committed to providing a rigorous academic curriculum, we are committed to preparing our student-athletes for athletic excellence.  This includes daily physical and intellectual training, mental health awareness, athletic nutrition guidance, and high-intensity practices. Our mission is to recruit and develop student-athletes, coaches and staff, creating a culture of champions within and outside of competition.

Home to one of the most picturesque campuses in the nation, Stetson University makes an immediate impression on its visitors.  The beautiful landscaping, historic architecture and modern amenities attract students from all over the globe.  Similarly, our athletic programs can recruit the finest talent because of our first-class facilities.  Since 1997, Stetson has opened the Mandy Stoll Tennis Center, the Wilson Athletic Center, Melching Field at Conrad Park, Patricia Wilson Field, the Athletic Training Center and the Sandra Stetson Aquatic Center, all geared to the training and development of our student-athletes.  The beauty, charm, and character of these facilities blend perfectly with our spectacular campus. In just one example, Patricia Wilson Field, home to Stetson Softball, has earned seven National Field of Year awards!

In reflection of our low student-to-faculty ratio, these facilities are intimate by design and allow our fans to connect with our student-athletes on a personal level. They are primarily resourced by University donors, who enjoy supporting their favorite Hatter teams.

Our more than 400 student-athletes, meanwhile, have the opportunity to compete annually on a national stage.  Some of the top moments in recent Stetson Athletics history include:
  • Beach Volleyball upset No. 1 seed USC at the 2019 NCAA Championship, becoming the first 8-seed ever to win a dual match at the national tournament.
  • Baseball hosted its first NCAA Regional at Melching Field in 2018 and swept the weekend in dramatic fashion, advancing to its first-ever NCAA SuperRegional at the University of North Carolina.
  • Women’s Basketball won three ASUN Championships and played in the “Big Dance” in 2005, 2011, and 2013
Meanwhile, several of our coaches have been recognized at the highest level for their legendary careers:
  • Pete Dunn served 37 seasons as the Hatters’ baseball skipper, leading Stetson to 1,312 victories and 18 NCAA Regional appearances.  He was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2014.
  • Also in 2014, Glenn Wilkes was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. Wilkes’ coaching tenure lasted 36 seasons and produced 552 wins.
Nothing makes us prouder than to see our alumni go on to successful careers, both on the off the field.  Most notably:  
  • New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom has been voted the NL Cy Young Award winner two times (2018, 2019) and was the NL Rookie of the Year (2014).
  • Former Cleveland Indians pitcher Corey Kluber is a two-time AL Cy Young Award winner (2014, 2017).
  • Including deGrom and Kluber, 10 former Hatters have played in the Major Leagues.
  • Golfer Sam Ryder earned his PGA Tour card in 2017.
  • Three-time All-American, and the third leading tackler in NCAA Division I history, Donald Payne played linebacker with the Baltimore Ravens and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
  • Stetson football produced another consensus All-American in 2018 and Donald Parham is now a member of the Los Angeles Chargers.
  • Women’s Soccer forward Tessa Gavilsky enjoyed a successful professional career after graduating from Stetson in 2011.  She won a pair of Swedish First Division championships with Mallbackens IF, and she spent one season with the NWSL’s Houston Dash.
  • Dr. Nefertiti Walker (Women’s Basketball) was named Interim Associate Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at UMass Amherst in 2019.
  • Former basketball player Ted Cassidy (1952-55) became an actor after graduating from Stetson. One of Hollywood’s top character actors in the 60s and 70s, Cassidy gained significant fame playing Lurch the Butler on TVs the Addams Family. Upon his death in 1979, Cassidy had compiled 75 television and movie acting credits to his name.
  • Men’s soccer goalkeeper Peter Nyong’o gained notice around the world in 2014 when, while accompanying his sister, Lupita, to the Academy Awards, he photobombed Hollywood’s elite in the World’s Most Famous Selfie.
Many of our athletic department and university staff members are actively engaged in ASUN and NCAA-level committees:
  • President Emeritus Dr. Wendy Libby is serving as the ASUN representative and Vice-Chair of the NCAA Division I Presidential Forum.
  • Director of Athletics Jeff Altier is serving on the NCAA Baseball selection committee, a role he will hold through August of 2022. He is chair of the ASUN Strategic Planning Committee.
  • Deputy Director of Athletics Alicia Queally currently serves on the NCAA Nominating Committee and is Chair of the Senior Woman Administrator group for the ASUN.
  • Associate AD for Student Services P.J. Moses serves on the NCAA Walter Byers Committee which, in part, is responsible for selecting the Jim McKay scholarship recipients each year.
  • Women’s Basketball Coach Lynn Bria is an incoming chair of the NCAA women’s basketball rules committee. She also serves on the Stetson Leadership Committee and is Chair of the Stetson Athletics Hall of Fame Selection Committee.
  • Lacrosse coach Christy Leach is the chair for the ASUN coaches committee and is also the chair of the NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Selection Committee.
  • Faculty Athletics Representative Mike Bitter is a member of the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee as well as the Continuing Eligibility Waiver Committee and its 2-Year College Transfer subcommittee.
  • Football coach Roger Hughes serves as president of the American Football Coaches Association’s FCS executive head coach committee.
  • Associate AD for Communications Ricky Hazel serves on the FCS Management Advisory Committee.
And now it is time to make more memories and add to our rich history. With the warmest greetings and utmost excitement we welcome you to the Hatter Family, and we say, “Go Hatters!”