Florida athletics receives largest-ever $12.5 million donation for student facility

The University of Florida’s University Athletic Association on Friday announced receipt of $12.5 million from an anonymous donor, which is being billed as the largest-ever donation to the program.

The $12.5 million will go towards a massive $25 million renovation to the Office of Student Life, which the Florida Gators believe will be a huge benefit to current athletes and a massive recruiting tool for future Gators.

The renovation will improve academic programs for all 480 Florida athletes across 21 varsity sports. Renovations will begin in March for what will be named the Otis Hawkins Center for Academic and Personal Excellence.

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Florida Gators progressing towards potential indoor practice facility for football

While the Florida Gators were in the midst of hiring a new head football coach, the University of Florida continued to progress in its plans to potentially build an indoor practice facility for the program with a completion date as early as July 2015.

In October, a notice of bid/request for a proposal requiring “design/build services” for “Project UAA-35, Indoor Practice Facility (Main Campus)” was submitted to the Florida Department of State, with the University Athletic Association noting that it was “considering the possibilities of providing an indoor practice field for the football program on its current practice site” as well as “a new storage building … to provide space for a satellite athletic training space, hydration station, toilet, and field maintenance equipment.”

A UAA spokesman told The Gainesville Sun in October that there were no plans on the horizon to build an indoor practice facility, and that may have been the case at the time, but the early stages of planning have continued.

The UAA hired RDG Planning & Design to mock up plans for a potential indoor practice facility, which the company did by creating three options that would require adjustments to the current site of Florida football’s practice fields.

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Will Muschamp exits Florida Gators job: ‘I hold my head up walking out of here’

Saturday’s loss to Florida State was a microcosm of the Florida Gators over the last four years under head coach Will Muschamp.

Florida committed undisciplined penalties, was unable to take advantage of opponent miscues and could not find the end zone even with a short field, which it had often. The Gators were also plagued by uneven coaching and questionable decision-making, especially deep in the red zone and on their last offensive series when the passing game was for some reason suddenly preferred over the running game.

Similarly, Muschamp’s post-game press conference incorporated all of his maxims. In fact, many of them were thrown into a single five-sentence reply after he was asked about Florida once again having a chance to win a game but failing to take advantage of its opportunities.

“We’ve had our opportunities. You look at two other games where we had the game in hand and had our opportunities to get it done. We didn’t get it done,” he said. “It falls on my shoulders. And that’s why they’re going to be looking for a coach.”

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Florida-EKU post-game report: Durkin to coach bowl, Muschamp’s final lesson, Bullard’s decision

The Florida Gators (6-4) took care of business, routing the Eastern Kentucky Colonels (9-3) on Senior Day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.

Florida’s 52-3 victory on Saturday got the Gators bowl-eligible for the first time since 2012 and also marked the second-largest win margin in any game under head coach Will Muschamp, who was able to leave The Swamp with his head held high.

BOWL GAME COACH CHOSEN

Moments after Florida’s win was finalized, the school announced that defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin would serve as interim head coach for the Gators’ bowl game this year. Durkin, the second-longest tenured member of the staff (five years) behind running backs coach Brian White (six years), will take the reigns of the program once Muschamp’s dismissal is finalized next Saturday, Nov. 29.

FINAL LESSON: A TOUGH WEEK, ROAD AHEAD

There should be no doubt that the entire Florida football team took Muschamp’s dismissal hard. Gators players spoke of him fondly on Monday after his press conference and were obviously playing with an extra gear on Saturday. Junior defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard even went so far as to write his coach’s last name on his eyeblack.

“I’ve just been through a lot and he’s been there for me,” Bullard said. “When I lost my grandmother, he was a big supporter; he let me go home as long as I needed. Just little things he did helping me through that whole situation, he’s just been a real good person to me. I respect him a lot, and actually, I love him. I just wanted to show some respect for him, everything he’s done for me, and show him that I appreciate it.”

Muschamp admitted Saturday that it took a while for Florida to get back in the swing of things this week. Monday’s practice was thwarted due to the weather; Tuesday the team looked “just OK” and did not show “great effort” on the field; and Wednesday was just “a little bit better.”

So Muschamp spent the Gators’ regularly-scheduled Thursday meeting speaking about much more than just the upcoming game but rather how Florida’s players need to deal with his dismissal and their futures going forward.

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Gameday: Florida Gators vs. Eastern Kentucky

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather: 69°F (feels like 71°F), showers (50%), winds ENE at 12 mph
Time: 12:00 p.m. EST

TV: SEC Network – alternate channel (Allen Bestwick, Chris Doering, Kayce Smith)

Streaming Video: SEC Network via WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 112/192 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS EKU COLONELS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Dean Hood
Record: 5-4 Record: 9-2
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Ohio Valley

Odds: NONE

SENIOR DAY

Friday Final: Preparing for an emotional Senior Day in The Swamp

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Friday Final: Florida Gators prepare for emotional Senior Day in The Swamp

In this week’s edition of Florida Football Friday Final, OnlyGators.com takes a look at the Florida Gators (5-4) as they prepare to play their second-to-last game under head coach Will Muschamp against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels (9-2) on Senior Day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, on Saturday. The game will kick off at noon and air live on the SEC Network.

THIS WEEK ON ONLYGATORS.COM

Story: Will Muschamp earns praise, talks dismissal with class
Story: Dante Fowler Jr. declares for NFL Draft on Twitter
Story/Notebook: Gators lose two linebackers for season; two defensive backs return for Saturday’s game
Story: Florida coordinators talk Muschamp firing, EKU, future
The Silver Lining: Answering reader questions about the Gators’ future

SENIOR DAY IN THE SWAMP

Lost among the firing of a head coach and subsequent start of a search for a new one are two simple facts: the Gators are one victory away from bowl game eligibility, and Muschamp will not be the only one who spending his last Saturday on Florida Field.

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Roper, Durkin focus on EKU, discuss Muschamp

One thing Will Muschamp made very clear at his press conference on Monday was that it would be business as usual for the Florida Gators this week as they prepare to host the Eastern Kentucky Colonels on Saturday.

The message has obviously been delivered to his coordinators, as both Kurt Roper (offensive) and D.J. Durkin (defensive) explained this week that they are focused on the game and the game alone.

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Florida Gators AD Jeremy Foley: ‘We’re not getting into an arms race’ with our facilities

While in-state rivals and Southeastern Conference foes have been making substantial, multi-million dollar upgrades to their football facilities – including adding exorbitant indoor practice facilities – over recent years, the Florida Gators have stood firm that their amenities are above or on par with any team in the nation.

Athletic director Jeremy Foley took that stance again on Monday while addressing whether he agrees with some external murmuring that Florida’s facilities are no longer up to the program’s lofty standards.

“I wear orange and blue goggles a lot, and I’m certainly willing to have wide-open eyes, but I don’t agree with the assessment that our facilities have fallen behind,” explained Foley. “We judge our facilities based on [whether] they help our programs be successful. Do they make an impact on their ability to be successful? Whether that’s a weight room for football or a gymnastics practice studio, whatever have you.”

It’s not that the Gators have been lacking in making upgrades to their stadiums, locker rooms, weight rooms or multiple sport offices. Rather, Florida has been ahead of the curve in boosting its stadiums and support structures, especially for the football program.

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