Image Credit: ESPNI
Updated at 1 p.m.
The Florida Gators‘ extended search for an athletic director to replace Jeremy Foley may be reaching its conclusion.
Mississippi State’s Scott Stricklin, one of a few athletic directors targeted after Florida’s initial round of conversations came up empty, has reportedly been offered the job, according to the Clarion-Ledger.
Sources said Stricklin turned down the offer earlier this month but Florida returned with a better offer within the last couple of days. The deal, a source said, was for at least $1 million but could be upwards of $1.4 million. Stricklin made about $500,000 at Missisisppi State.
Less than an hour earlier, FootballScoop.com reported that Stricklin is Florida’s top candidate and could be “closing in on the job very soon.”
ESPN’s Brett McMurphy confirms that Stricklin is the leader for the job, though he reports that no offer has been made.
Earlier Tuesday, Kansas State’s John Currie was placed on campus in Gainesville by Gridiron Now‘s Mike Huguenin. However, that directly conflicted with where Currie said he was located and other third parties placed him.
Great presentation this AM from @CanesAllAccess here in Dallas at D1 AD meetings.
— John Currie (@John_Currie) September 20, 2016
I should also add that Scott Stricklin isn’t in Gainesville either. Also in Dallas, according to someone who is actually there.
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) September 20, 2016
It’s quite possible that Huguenin jumped the gun on a story that was supposed to run later Tuesday or perhaps another day this week. He has broken a bunch of important Florida news over the last year-plus, due in part to connections he presently has with the Gators. Of course, he also could have gotten it completely wrong.
Stricklin, a graduate of Mississippi State who has been working with the program since 1992, also has stints at Baylor and Kentucky on his resume. He won an award as Under Armour’s Athletics Director of the Year for the 2015-16 season. Striclkin, also 45, is known as a tremendous fundraiser and is well-respected within the SEC and nationally.
A 45-year-old graduate of Wake Forest and Tennessee who worked at both programs before joining Kansas State since 2009, Currie recently signed a two-year extension with the Wildcats that pushed his contract out to 2022. He is similarly well-respected in the industry and considered a fine candidate for any big job nationally.
It would make little sense for either Currie or Stricklin to arrive in Gainesville for any reason other than the open athletic director job, and the Gators would be unlikely to bring a candidate into town if a decision was not close to being finalized. However, the fact that all of this is bubbling up Tuesday should be an indication that Florida is closing in on a hire.
OnlyGators.com has previously heard both names as unconfirmed candidates for the open job. North Carolina’s Bubba Cunningham was reportedly offered the gig first and appeared to be ready to accept only to change his mind at the last minute. Arizona’s Greg Byrne and Stanford’s Bernard Muir, a native of Gainesville, were also strongly considered but reportedly pulled their names.