A conversation with the Florida Gators’ executive associate AD: Changes to football and basketball

On the heels of one of the biggest transitional offseasons in program history, Florida Gators executive associate athletic director Mike Hill sat down with OnlyGators.com for 45 minutes to discuss chances to the football and basketball programs, the inner workings of the University Athletic Association and whether athletic director Jeremy Foley really is that resistant to special uniforms for the football team.

Hill, who has just begun his 23rd season at Florida, is also largely responsible for the Gators’ basketball scheduling, which has been turned upside down due to changes in renovation plans for the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

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Florida Gators name Jenny Rowland program’s new head gymnastics coach

Making his third major coaching hire this offseason, Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley has tabbed Jenny Rowland as the program’s new gymnastics coach.

Rowland – a former All-American gymnast and member of the U.S. Women’s National Team (1985-90) who was named the 2015 NCAA co-Assistant Coach of the Year – has spent five seasons with Auburn, serving as the program’s associate head coach over the last two campaigns.

“When we started this search, there was one name that kept coming up – Jenny Rowland. What Auburn has done over the past few seasons is quite impressive and she’s played a big role in the Tigers’ progress. We feel confident she’s ready to guide the Gator program,” Foley said.

“She wants Gator gymnasts to thrive in all aspects of their student-athletic career – in the classroom, in the competitive arena and in developing the life skills to be successful following college. She knows what is like to be a competitor on the national, international and collegiate stages. She has what it takes to be a successful recruiter as she’s built relationships with so many in the gymnastics world.”

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After three straight national titles, coach Rhonda Faehn leaves Florida for USA Gymnastics

Just days after leading Florida Gators gymnastics to its third straight NCAA Championship, head coach Rhonda Faehn has decided to leave the program to become senior vice president of USA Gymnastics.

Faehn, who took over Florida gymnastics in 2003, has brought the Gators to 10 NCAA Super Six finals in 13 seasons (2004, 2006-10, 2012-15). UF under Faehn was on the precipice of a NCAA national title for nearly a decade before winning its first in 2013 – and two more in the years that followed.

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Three-peat: Florida Gators gymnastics makes history, wins third straight national title

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com Contributor

Florida Gators gymnastics continued breaking through ceilings on Saturday when it captured the program’s third straight NCAA National Championship by edging the competition with a final score of 197.850.

Despite failing to earn its league crown or win its semifinal outright, Florida – led by head coach Rhonda Faehn – took down its top-notch competition Saturday to obtain sole possession of the national title after splitting the honor one year ago.

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Florida gymnastics’ title hopes take hit as Bridget Sloan (ankle) sidelined six weeks

Florida Gators gymnastics suffered a major blow in its hopes to three-peat as national champion as junior Bridget Sloan, arguably the flag bearer for Florida’s gymnastics program, will be sidelined for six weeks with a severe ankle sprain, head coach Rhonda Faehn announced on Tuesday.

Sloan, a two-time All-SEC First Team selection, the winner of the 2013 Honda Sports Award and a 16-time All-American, has helped lead the Gators to back-to-back NCAA National Championships. She has also captured three individual NCAA Championships, winning the all-around and balance beam competitions in 2013 and picking up the uneven bars title in 2014.

Florida rolled to a dominant 196.925-193.700 win over Ball State in each program’s season-opener on Sunday in Muncie, Indiana, but did not leave the meet without suffering some losses.

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Florida Gators gymnastics wins share of second-straight NCAA National Championship

By Jordan McPherson – OnlyGators.com Contributor

After trailing for most of the Super Six for the second-straight year, it came down to sophomore Bridgette Caquatto pulling off a miracle for No. 1 Florida Gators gymnastics, which forced a late tie and split the 2014 NCAA Championship on Saturday night in Birmingham, AL.

UF’s final competitor in the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center, Caquatto needed to score a 9.95 on floor if the Gators wanted to earn a share of the national title with the No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners.

And she delivered, matching her career-high mark for the third time this season as Florida locked up with Oklahoma for the lead just one year after winning the title for the first time in program history.

“It was absolutely incredible,” Gators head coach Rhonda Faehn said in a post-meet interview. “Our athletes, I mean, they knew what was on the line, and they just competed their hearts out.”

Florida and Oklahoma both posted a 198.175 — the highest score in Super Six history — and subsequently split the title after a long delay as judges attempted to ensure there was no method by which to break the tie. By tying with the Gators, the Sooners became just the sixth program to finish in the top spot. LSU (197.600) finished in third and Alabama (fourth, 197.550), Georgia (fifth, 197.050) and Nebraska (sixth, 196.500) rounded out the field.

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Hunter perfect again; No. 2 Florida tops No. 1 OU

Junior Kytra Hunter did it again.

For the second time in as many meets, Hunter stepped onto the mat with poise, held her head high, took a deep breath and put together a flawless turn at the floor exercise. The result was the same, too: perfection.

Led by Hunter’s 10.0, No. 2 Florida Gators gymnastics (4-0, 2-0 SEC) shut down the No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners (3-1, 1-1 Big 12) on Friday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville FL, defeating its third ranked and second top-five opponent in four meets this season.

Just one week after Hunter and sophomore Bridget Sloan, the last two defending champions in the NCAA All-Around respectively in 2012 and 2013, posted back-to-back 10.0s on floor, the duo came close to replicating their effort.

First up was Sloan. She failed in her charge, picking up a measly 9.950 after her routine rocked the O’Dome. Little did her teammates, coaches or the fans in attendance know what would come next from Hunter.

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2014 Florida Gators gymnastics primer: Repeat?

By Scott Barr – OnlyGators.com Contributor

Coming off last season’s historic performance, which included the first NCAA Championship in program history and its second overall national championship (1982 – NAIA), No. 4 Florida Gators gymnastics team opens the 2014 season seeking to defend the title they and head coach Rhonda Faehn worked so hard to achieve.

Florida, which became just the fifth team in NCAA history to win the national title in 31 years, opened its 2014 schedule last Saturday with a tight 196.650-196.625 victory on the road against then-No. 4 UCLA, a perennial power in the sport. UF will travel to Auburn this Friday for its first Southeastern Conference meet of the season.

The Gators schedule is always supremely challenging and 2014 is no different with home meets against three teams that competed at in the 2013 NCAA Championship: Oklahoma (second), Georgia (sixth) and Arkansas (10th). Road meets include the win over UCLA and a meet against rival and 2012 national title-winner Alabama (third in 2013).

This challenging schedule provides Florida with an excellent opportunity to measure itself against top-notch competition as it prepares to defend its crown.

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