Florida Gulf Coast is hot. Florida Atlantic is not. Both schools, largely unknown outside the Sunshine State, are hitting the headlines.
The men’s basketball team of Florida Gulf Coast University, a relatively new school located on the beach in Fort Myers, has become the first 15th seeded team to reach the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16. For those who aren’t b-ball fans, that’s a Cinderella story, except this time the payoff is immediate: Traffic on FGCU’s online admissions page quintupled when the team won its first-ever tournament game Friday, and skyrocketed yesterday and this morning.
The FGCU story also flew high because of its team’s alley-oop, high-above-the-rim style, and the biographies of its principals. Coach Andy Enfield, 43, played basketball and majored in economics at Johns Hopkins University, setting an NCAA record for free-throw percentage and learning enough to become a Wall Street wizard who helped start a $100 million company. The coach’s wife, Amanda, is a beautiful model with whom he now has three children. And, in case any more cool stuff is needed, an online video shows students doing the Harlem Shake.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the state, the administration of Boca Raton’s Florida Atlantic University, offered a shaky announcement: “We sincerely apologize for any offense this has caused.” The “this” was a communications class exercise in which instructor Deandre Poole asked students to write “Jesus” on pieces of paper, put the papers on the floor, and then stomp on them. One student refused and blew the whistle on the exercise, which came directly from the teacher’s manual for the textbook Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach (Fifth Edition).
The debate took on political dimensions because the instructor is vice-chair of the Palm Beach Democratic Party, which, according to BizPac Review, has a “disturbing pattern of hate”: Last year its chairman reportedly resigned under fire over anti-Christian remarks, and a Democratic Executive Committee member resigned after making anti-Israel comments. But I haven’t seen media reports on the historical antecedents of Jesus-stomping, and therein lies a tale.
Shinto and Buddhist leaders in Japan from the 17th through the 19th centuries forced suspected Christians to step on fumi-e, pictures of Jesus. Officials sent those who refused to Nagasaki, where they underwent torture: Those who refused to abandon their faith suffered execution, sometimes by being dropped into a volcano at Mount Unzen. The Florida Atlantic protestor said the university suspended him, but Florida Atlantic has now announced it is suspending no one and is permanently benching the stomping exercise.