Florida Gulf Coast University Florida Gulf Coast University

It’s safe to say that a few weeks ago not many people outside South Florida had heard about Florida Gulf Coast University. Now, thanks to the school’s basketball team and its historic forward march in March Madness, it’s the new “it” school, at least for the moment. What exactly is it? And where is it?

Florida Gulf Coast University is a 760-acre accredited public comprehensive university located in South Fort Myers, on the southwest coast of the state. It has some 11,300 undergraduate students and 1,400 graduate students, 92 percent of whom are from Florida, and it offers 52 undergraduate degree programs, 30 graduate degree programs, two doctoral programs and on specialist program, according to its Web site. It has its own astronomical observatory

It was established in 1991 with the idea of being a commuter school where most students took classes online, but it did not start classes until August 1997. In 1999, the president, William C. Merwin, decided to turn the school into a more traditional four-year school that used technology both in class and elsewhere on campus. Dormitories were built and the campus has a number of lakes. The average SAT score for new students is 1530, and the average GPA for all students is 2.99, the school’s website says.

On Sunday, Florida Gulf Coast’s basketball team earned a place in the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16, the first No. 15 seed to reach that round ever. Its next game is against another Sunshine State team: the University of Florida Gators.