PHILADELPHIA — After accepting the head coaching position at Florida Gulf Coast University in March 2011, Andy Enfield called his parents, Bill and Barbara, both of whom had seen their son achieve academic, business and athletic successes in high-profile places. Had they ever heard of the school?
"No," Bill said.
"No," Barbara said. "I mean, it's so new."
Now, though, sports fans are becoming familiar with a college located in Fort Myers, Fla., that enrolled its first student in 1997 and didn't begin playing Division I basketball until 2007. On Friday night, Florida Gulf Coast pulled off one of the biggest upsets so far in this year's NCAA tournament, defeating Georgetown, 78-68, to become the seventh No. 15 seed to beat a No. 2 seed in history.
After the game, Bill and Barbara Enfield, who had made the 150-mile drive from Shippensburg, Pa., joined others in a celebratory locker room, a scene that seemed unfathomable just a short time ago.
Much of the credit goes to Andy Enfield, a 1991 Johns Hopkins graduate who remains the leading scorer in Blue Jays history (2,025 points) and still holds the NCAA Division III record for highest career free-throw accuracy (92.5%).
He's receiving national attention for Friday's victory — and for his unusual background. It also doesn't hurt Enfield's popularity that his wife, Amanda, is a former model and is being featured prominently on television and on the Internet.
Enfield, the valedictorian of his high school and an academic All-American in college, earned his MBA degree from Maryland, ran his own shooting clinics and company ("All Net Basketball") and spent time as an NBA assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics.
He then helped start TractManager, a contract management software firm for the health care and real estate industries. Enfield sold the company for million of dollars and returned to coaching in 2006, becoming an assistant at Florida State.
"Not that he didn't enjoy the challenge [of business], but he missed basketball," Barbara Enfield said. "It's in his blood."
When he took over at Florida Gulf Coast two years ago, Enfield faced numerous challenges, the biggest one being that so few people were aware the school even existed. Hearing the name for the first time, many thought it was a junior college, according to Enfield.
Last season, the first time Florida Gulf Coast was eligible for the Division I postseason, the Eagles nearly made the NCAA tournament before losing in the Atlantic Sun tournament final. Since winning the conference tournament March 9, the locals in Fort Myers have taken notice.
"The buzz around the area right now is unbelievable," said Florida Gulf Coast forward Eddie Murray, who grew up 20 minutes from the school. "You can't turn on the radio, turn on the TV without seeing Florida Gulf Coast. It's an awesome feeling."
And it could get much better Sunday night if the Eagles can defeat San Diego State and become the first No. 15 seed to advance to the Sweet 16. The Florida Gulf Coast cheering section will include numerous members of the Enfield family, as well as his friends — such as former Johns Hopkins teammate Dave Eikenberg and Blue Jays coach Bill Nelson.
Since Enfield first stepped on Johns Hopkins' campus in the fall in 1987, Nelson has been impressed with his dedication and attitude.
Nelson said Enfield is one of the three best players he's ever coached, when it comes to taking practices seriously, along with 2010 Johns Hopkins graduate Pat O'Connell and Jeff Van Gundy, the former NBA coach who played for Nelson at Nazareth College in Rochester, N.Y.
"This is not a total shock — [Enfield] does well at everything he tries," Nelson said on Saturday afternoon from his home in Ellicott City. "He can really focus on the task at hand. What's amazing is he did it so quickly."