St. Bonaventure Bonnies
St. Bonaventure University is located in Cattaraugus County in western New York. The university was established by the Franciscan Brothers in 1858 and is a private, Catholic university, located near Olean, New York. It has roughly 2,000 students. The current president is Sister Margaret Carney OSF, the 20th president and the first religious sister to hold the position. Its sports teams, the Bonnies (formerly nicknamed the "Brown Indians") play NCAA Division I sports in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Students and alumni refer to the university with an affectionate nickname—"Bona's"—which originates from the school's original name, St. Bonaventure's College.
St. Bonaventure has been long known for a successful basketball program that plays in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Nearly every member of the spirited student body attends home games, leading ESPN to call St. Bonaventure one of the top-five "worst places to play" in the country, along with Duke and Michigan. The team has struggled lately, but had success in the past: Bob Lanier played at St. Bonaventure, leading them to the Final Four in 1970, as did Tom and Sam Stith. In addition to these, and other, NBA players, other St. Bonaventure players played in the top European leagues. The last St. Bonaventure player to reach the NBA was J.R. Bremer, who played for the Boston Celtics in 2002 and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003.
Mike Gansey, who finished his college career in 2006 as a star at West Virginia and signed with the Miami Heat as an undrafted free agent, played his first two years of college basketball at St. Bonaventure, but transferred along with several teammates in the wake of an academic scandal in 2003 after it was found that the university had accepted a junior-college transfer player whose only academic credential was a welding certificate. In the NCAA's report on the scandal, the NCAA Committee on Infractions recognizes that a member institution has the prerogative to accept any academic credits it deems appropriate, the committee was disturbed by the institution’s practices in this particular case. Specifically, the student-athlete completed 54 credits at the junior college, the majority of which were in vocational subjects such as blueprint reading, metallurgy and of course, welding. All of these credits were accepted by the university in the fulfillment of a degree in sociology; even those subjects in which the student-athlete earned a grade of “D.” Since relatively few of these credits were directly applicable to a sociology degree, 39 (72 percent) were accepted as unspecified course “electives.”
Dismissed in the aftermath of the scandal were the university president, Robert J. Wickenheiser, the basketball coaching staff including head coach Jan van Breda Kolff & assistant coach Kort Wickenheiser, the president's son, and athletic director Gothard Lane, who was later absolved by the NCAA of culpability in the situation. The scandal also took a toll on university trustee, Bill Swan, who committed suicide on August 20, 2003, following sharp criticism from media and internet bloggers, specifically those on the Bonnies Bandwagon, who criticized him for not interceding earlier to prevent the scandal. Richard R. Hilliard, an attorney at the time with the law firm of Ice Miller and while employed by St. Bonaventure University to conduct a review of the basketball program with regard to the scandal, resigned from the firm for the unauthorized and improper use of $15,000 of Ice Miller funds to pay his own gambling debts and misled the firm concerning this conduct by drafting emails indicating the funds had not yet been received from another client. The Illinois Supreme Court subsequently suspended him from the practice of law for five months.
The men's and women's basketball teams, among others, play at the Reilly Center Arena. The Arena seats 6,000 and is usually sold out during basketball season. Many people from the Olean area have been season ticket holders for years. After the 2006-2007 season, men's basketball coach Anthony Solomon was fired. Solomon was hired in May 2003 when the NCAA had imposed sanctions upon the basketball program. Over his four seasons, Solomon compiled a record of 24-88, including a mark of 10-54 in Atlantic 10 Conference games. This season, St. Bonaventure finished 7-22 overall and 4-12 in the Atlantic 10. The Bonnies' season ended last Saturday following a loss at Charlotte. Saint Bonaventure hired Robert Morris University's head basketball coach, Mark Schmidt, on April 10, 2007 to replace Solomon.
The current women's basketball coach is Jim Crowley.