You know that phenomenon where you look at your watch, and then you don't know what time it is? I get that every year when USF plays Georgetown. Every year, I look up the answer to the "what's a Hoya?" question, and by next year I've forgotten it and I have to look it up again.
Here's the explanation from alumni.georgetown.edu:
No one seems to know exactly when or how the term "Hoya Saxa" was first used at Georgetown. Many years ago, there was a team at Georgetown called the "Stonewalls," and it is suggested that a student applied the Greek and Latin terms and dubbed them "Hoya Saxa," meaning "what rocks!" Hoya has since become a nickname for Georgetown’s athletic teams and students.
Hoia is from the Greek word hoios, meaning "such a" or "what a." The neuter plural of this word is hoia, which agrees with the neuter plural of the Latin word saxa, meaning rocks; thus we have hoya— substituting the letter "y" for "i." Before 1900, every Georgetown student studied both Greek and Latin, so there was no need to explain what the expression meant.
What I find interesting about this story is that "hoya" became the nickname rather than "saxa." Rock or Rocks is a somewhat reasonable name for a sports team. But by latching onto "hoya" instead, their team name translates to Georgetown Whats.
In honor of the Hoyas' geological roots, our theme extinct animal for today is the only extinct animal with "rock" in its name: the San Benedicto Rock Wren.
This animal is unique, and applicable to the Big East Conference, for another reason: history knows the exact moment it went extinct. On August 1, 1952, the active San Benedicto volcano erupted, burying the bird's habitat ten feet deep in ash and pyroclastic flow. The San Benedicto Rock Wren was never seen again.
On November 27, 2012, Tulane University was invited to the Big East Conference. Georgetown and six other Big East schools announced that they would never be seen again either.