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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Durkin: Cox out for bowl, McGee hopes to stay at Florida, Gators prepare for Birmingham

Florida Gators interim head coach and defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin met with the media on Thursday to discuss the early portion pf practice ahead of the 2015 Birmingham Bowl, injuries, roster developments and the team’s preparation for the East Carolina Pirates. Florida and ECU will square off on Saturday, Jan. 3 at 12 p.m. at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama.

UP-AND-COMER SIDELINED FOR BOWL

Redshirt sophomore defensive end Bryan Cox Jr. began to show some flashes as the 2014 season came to a close, but he will be unable to take advantage of the 20 bowl practices to take his game to the next level ahead of spring practice.

Cox, who announced on social media that he underwent surgery, has officially been ruled out for the bowl game after having a procedure on his hip.

“Bryan Cox had surgery and he will be out for the bowl game,” Durkin said. “It was a hip injury, something that was deteriorating over time that he needed to have done.”

In his second year of on-field action, Cox finished with 29 tackles (six for lost yardage) and four sacks. He will likely step into a starting role with the Gators in 2015.

Continue Reading » Durkin: Cox out for bowl, McGee hopes to stay at Florida, Gators prepare for Birmingham

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The Silver Lining: McElwain’s staff decisions, comments from Muschamp and Mullen

You’re getting what you wanted

Over the last two seasons – and a little before that as well – my inbox, the @OnlyGators Twitter account and the comments section here on OnlyGators.com have each been inundated with requests and demands for Will Muschamp to lose his job. And while it may have taken longer than many of you have wished, it happened. Muschamp was fired, athletic director Jeremy Foley hired a new head coach Jim McElwain and – though some of you were not pleased with that replacement – the program is headed in a different direction.

Well, you know what happens when one head coach gets fired and another is hired in his place? The coaching staff changes, too. That’s the name of the game. It’s how this process works and thinking otherwise is absolutely foolish.

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SIX BITS: awards, Speights, Tebow, Beal, Wuerffel

1 » The Florida Gators football team held its annual team banquet on Saturday. Awards were handed out for everything from on-field performance to working hard in practice and how courageous a particular player may have proven to be during the season. Below are the 2014 award winners along with some explanations and details.

Coaches’ Choice Awards
President’s Academic Award: Jeff Driskel, Mike Mcneely
* Third-straight year that McNeely won the award.
Gene Elleson Community Service Award: Max Garcia, Mark Herndon
* Second-straight year that Herndon won the award.
Iron Gator Strength and Conditioning Award: Clay Burton, Hunter Joyer, Max Garcia, Antonio Morrison
Chris Patrick Courage Award: Alex Anzalone, Gideon Ajagbe, Andre Debose, Chaz Green, Matt Jones, Antonio Morrison, Jeremi Powell
Most Valuable Offensive Scout Team Award: R.J. Raymond, Dakota Wilson |
Defensive: Ryan Parrish | Special Teams: Garrett Stephens, Roger Dixon
* Second-straight year that Parrish won the award.

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: awards, Speights, Tebow, Beal, Wuerffel

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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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Florida Gators introduce coach Jim McElwain: press conference, media appearances

Updated at 2:30 p.m.

The Florida Gators on Saturday will introduce new head coach Jim McElwain during a press conference scheduled for 11 a.m. in Gainesville, Florida. McElwain’s presser will be bookended by other media opportunities, which will be covered here on OnlyGators.com.

Below are opening statements from president Bernie Machen and athletic director Jeremy Foley as well as McElwain’s live hits on ESPN‘s SportsCenter and SEC Network‘s SEC Nation program.

INTRODUCTORY PRESS CONFERENCE

President Bernie Machen: “We open the next chapter in Gator football. This is an important event for the whole university because intercollegiate athletics at the University of Florida is central to and integral to the activities of our university. It has great support from our students and from our faculty and staff as well as our alumni. So, this is a big deal, and we look at it as an opportunity to reaffirm the values of the whole university. We found a coach who we believe is exactly the right person to lead us into the next era of Gator football.”

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Odds and ends on Florida’s Jim McElwain hire

The process of transforming Colorado State’s Jim McElwain from a top candidate to the next head football coach of the Florida Gators was long and involved, likely longer and more involved than originally expected with plenty of twists and turns occurring throughout. OnlyGators.com is here to break a lot of it down.

THE BUYOUT

Colorado State will tell you, which it did in what is likely the first-ever press release ever sent about a buyout, that while it ultimately compromised with Florida, the program still received 93.3 percent of the $7.5 million buyout attached to McElwain’s contract. And that will, years from now, be true. It is also true that the $7 million that will come the way of the Rams will eclipse the $4.3 million Texas paid Louisville to snag Charlie Strong.

What Colorado State chooses not to mention in its braggadocios press release – titled “Colorado State University receives largest-ever buyout as Jim McElwain goes to University of Florida” – is that it did indeed compromise, a lot more than the school wanted to initially.

In the end, the Gators actually worked out a pretty sweet deal (for a $7 million buyout), especially considering the original $7.5 million buyout was due as a lump sum 30 days after the contract was ended. Let’s take a look at how Florida and athletic director Jeremy Foley turned a lump-sum $7.5 million buyout into $4 million paid out over six years.

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Florida resolves buyout, announces Colorado State’s Jim McElwain as next coach of the Gators

Updated at 5 p.m.

Jim McElwain has agreed to become the 24th head coach of the Florida Gators.

“It’s an honor to be a part of the one of most powerful brands in college athletics in the Florida Gators,” said McElwain in a statement released by the school hours after his hiring was announced. “I’m humbled, yet very excited about the tremendous opportunity that Dr. Machen and Jeremy Foley have afforded me and my family. I can’t tell you how eager I am to get to Gainesville to set a course for who we are going to be and what we will be all about.”

ESPN‘s Chris Low first reported early Thursday that buyout terms had been reached, while the Denver Post‘s Terry Frei later reported that the “negotiated buyout has CSU receiving $5 million cash and $2 million for a single game at Florida in the future.”

The Gators initially announced their hiring of McElwain via Twitter with a press conference scheduled for Saturday.

Florida then announced that the University Athletic Association will pay Colorado State $3 million over a six-year period, while McElwain will pay the school $2 million on his own. Additionally, CSU will play a game at UF between 2017-20 for $2 million.

The Gators and Rams were forced to mutually agree to the buyout in order to move the process along and allow McElwain to leave Colorado State for Florida. McElwain signed a six-year deal with the Gators that averages $3.5 million per season.

“Coach McElwain was someone we targeted from the beginning of the search. The more we worked through the process and did our due diligence, coupled with our meeting and conversations with him and those around him, it was obvious he is the right person to lead the Florida Gator football program,” athletic director Jeremy Foley said in a statement.

“He has a proven track record on the offensive side of the ball, has coached in the SEC, won two national championships and has had success as a head coach. He has recruited the South and the state of Florida and has spent time coaching at the highest level in the NFL.

“He has an engaging personality and is someone who can connect with a variety of audiences and he operates with a high level of integrity. I welcome him and his family to The Gator Nation and I’m looking forward to working alongside him and his staff as they build a championship program both on and off the field.”

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