The 2014 Southeastern Conference Spring Meetings continued Wednesday in Destin, Florida, with Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley among those that met with the media and divulged information about the future of the school and league. Below are some highlights from the second day of the SEC Spring Meetings.
O’DOME RENOVATIONS WILL SEND GATORS ACROSS STATE
Plans to renovate the Stephen C. O’Connell Center have been in the works for two years, but Florida is just now “closing in” on the nearly $50 million needed to complete the project, Foley told the Orlando Sentinel’s Edgar Thompson. Once the funding goal is reached and the project is officially approved, plans will be set into place for construction to begin in March 2015 with the goal of completing the process by January 2016.
Though Foley did not mention how the construction would affect other Gators sports like volleyball, women’s basketball and indoor track & field, he did note that Florida men’s basketball would likely play its non-conference home games throughout the state in Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa. (The Gators could also come to South Florida for more than their one usual game, which is played as part of the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic in Sunrise.) The idea would be to schedule two games in three days (Thursday-Saturday, Friday-Sunday) in each location. Florida played seven pre-January non-conference home games last season.
UPDATED: THREE PERMANENT OPPONENTS
Slive on Tuesday noted that men’s basketball would keep its 18-game conference schedule but move to include three permanent opponents (which are guaranteed to play twice every year) as opposed to the one permanent opponent that was instituted for the 2013-14 season. On Wednesday, Slive explained that the change would not be adopted until the 2015-16 campaign, meaning Florida will have Kentucky as its only permanent opponent next season.
As for UF’s two new future permanent rivals? Chances are the SEC will stick with traditional divisional opponents with Tennessee and Georgia making the most sense.
Foley admitted that there is “mutual interest” between the Gators and Hurricanes in setting up another game between the schools but was also adamant that it would be a neutral-site contest and is unlikely to take place any time soon. “I think at some point in time that may make sense. What that point in time is I don’t know, but it’s not imminent,” he told the Associated Press.
Florida and Miami have not squared off regularly since the teams played 49 times over 50 years from 1938-1987. In the 27 years since, the Gators and Canes have played six times (twice in bowl games). The neutral-site game, whenever it is scheduled, will likely be another one-off affair.
» SEC coaches on Wednesday approved experimenting with a 30-second shot clock during men’s basketball exhibition games ahead of the 2014-15 season. Athletic directors will vote on the measure before the conclusion of the spring meetings, according to Ron Higgins of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, who points out that the college shot clock has not been shortened since 1993 when it was cut from 45 to 35.
» According to the Macon Telegraph’s Seth Emerson, SEC coaches voted unanimously to submit a proposal to the NCAA calling for a 10th full-time assistant position to be added to coaching staffs.
» Though some in college football (like the ACC) are interested in the institution of an early signing period so recruits can lock up scholarships – and schools can get a hold on prospects – well before National Signing Day in early February, the SEC has decided not to support such a measure. However, while the league bristled at the idea of a signing period in August or mid-December, it did put forth a plan to have a signing date on the Monday after Thanksgiving (only for recruits that do not take official visits) if it is decided that one must exist. “Our first step would be to retain the current model,” Slive said. “And if it looks like there’s gonna be a debate over an early signing date then we would bring [the aforementioned proposal] forward.” Slive said he is concerned the early signing period would supplant the February date and therefore muddle the process with heavy recruiting taking place during summer practice and the regular season.
» South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier on whether he’s begun focusing on his opener against Texas A&M: “No, I am ready to turn my focus on golf tomorrow. I have to play with some buddies tomorrow. We have plenty of time to get ready for Texas A&M.”