Monday, Oct. 31, 2016, marks the final day in the career of Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley.
Foley, who has spent the last 40 years at Florida and last 25 as the Gators’ athletic director, stepped down in June and extended his stay with the program for an additional month as it took longer than expected to hire his replacement, Scott Strikin (who starts on Tuesday).
Before walking out the door of his big office and moving into a much smaller one as ceremonial emeritus athletic director, Foley taped the following address to Gator Nation.
— Florida Gators (@FloridaGators) October 31, 2016
Foley’s time with the Gators included 27 national championships and 130 Southeastern Conference titles in 13 sports (12 in the SEC) over his 25 years in charge. He oversaw the vast majority of Steve Spurrier‘s coaching tenure and hired every other sport’s most successful coach in its history.
Recounting his career over the summer, Foley explained that he operated Florida as if it always had two strikes against it stemming from football and basketball compliance issues in the 1980s. He also insisted that in order to be a national brand, an athletic program must be about more than the two major sports programs.
Foley said he was most proud of changing the perception of the Gators from annual “sleeping giant with untapped potential” to a powerhouse in collegiate athletics, and he never served on a national collegiate committee because he did not want to spend time and give effort to anything else but improving the Gators athletic program.
Before walking out the door, Foley came through on facility promises to head football coach Jim McElwain, head baseball coach Kevin O’Sullivan and head softball coach Tim Walton. He also secured O’Sullivan’s services with a massive extension.
Though he will not be there in an official capacity, Foley plans to see through the $64.5 million renovation of the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. He’ll be gone nearly two full months before it opens, but you can bet he will be at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“I’m always going to be part of this institution,” Foley said in June. “I don’t ever want a clean break from the Gators. Ever. … I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”