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.

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

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Florida women’s tennis, lacrosse win league titles

With football and basketball both in the spotlight and Florida Gators gymnastics winning a third straight NCAA National Championship last week, it was easy to overlook two other tremendous accomplishments made by Gators athletic programs in the form of regular-season league titles won this month.

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Takeaways: Florida baseball rebounds from FSU

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com baseball writer

No. 6 Florida Gators baseball (32-10, 12-6 SEC) started their recent five-game stretch with a tough road loss but recovered to claim four straight wins and remain one of the top 10 teams in the nation.

The Florida State Seminoles walked off in the 12th inning last week with a 4-3 victory to tilt the season series in the Seminoles’ favor 2-1. Florida bounced back with a 6-3 win Friday night over the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Starkville, Mississippi, and went on to earn a 2-1 win and 10-5 victory to sweep the weekend series. UF then returned home Tuesday and managed to defeat the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats 2-1 despite being held to only four hits.

Here are five takeaways from Florida’s resilient week:

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Takeaways: JJ Schwarz helps Florida Gators baseball bounce back to win four straight

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com baseball writer

No. 10 Florida Gators (28-9, 9-6 SEC) rebounded from last week’s disappointing road trip (1-3 vs. Florida State and Missouri) by displaying an abundance of offense and sweeping its four-game homestand against the Stetson Hatters and South Carolina Gamecocks. Florida scored in every inning of its 22-2 win over Stetson on Tuesday. Gamecocks pitchers did not fare much better against the Gators as UF outscored USC 38-10 in the series (14-3, 12-5, 12-2) to notch its first SEC sweep of the season.

Here are five takeaways from Florida’s near-flawless week:

1. Binging on taters: Freshman catcher JJ Schwarz made this week one he will never forget with four home runs in five at bats on Tuesday night against Stetson. But that wasn’t enough for the rookie slugger, as he punished South Carolina pitchers for three more round-trippers over the McKethan Stadium fences during the weekend series. Schwarz is one of many college players enjoying the NCAA’s new baseball with modified seams, which was introduced this year. A recent report showed a 39 percent increase in home runs this season as of April 1. Even with the inflated numbers, it’s noteworthy that Schwarz’s seven round-trippers this week tops the six home runs hit last season by former catcher Taylor Gushue to lead the Gators.

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JJ Schwarz sets Florida Gators program record with four home runs in a single game

Just 34 games into his collegiate career, freshman catcher JJ Schwarz on Tuesday accomplished something no player in the 101-year history of Florida Gators baseball had before when he smacked four home runs in a single game against the Stetson Hatters.

Schwarz, who entered Tuesday’s contest batting .277 with five homers and 30 RBI on the season, jettisoned the ball out of the park in each of his first three at bats. In his fifth turn at the plate, he rocketed a fourth ball over the McKethan Stadium wall, becoming the first Florida baseball player – and second Southeastern Conference player (Bill Sandry, Kentucky, 1982) – to crush four home runs in one game.

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Florida coach Jim McElwain a fan of satellite camps, not thrilled with uneven rules

Jim Harbaugh and his Michigan sweater are expected to swing into Tampa at some point this June for a satellite camp right in the backyard of the Florida Gators.

To some coaches, like Auburn’s Gus Malzahn – who is dealing with a similar Harbaugh satellite camp just 74 miles from his campus – this is a huge deal. To Florida head coach Jim McElwain, who is similarly not pleased to have to deal with the in-state competition from Michigan, it is just an example of recruiting rules being uneven across the country.

“I wish they weren’t [coming down here], absolutely, 100 percent,” he said Wednesday, “and yet, I don’t blame them. There’s nothing we can do about it until we change our rule as an SEC group or actually create something on the NCAA level where we’re all on the same [level]. It’s like with any of the rules, as long as everybody is playing on the same field, you just go deal with it right. I kind of wish we’d knock it off, but more power to them.”

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Florida coach Billy Donovan extended one year through 2019-20, average salary of $4 million

For the second time in as many seasons, the Florida Gators have extended the contract of two-time national championship-winning head basketball coach Billy Donovan with the parties signing a new deal in December.

According to The Gainesville Sun, which obtained the contract information through an open records request, Donovan’s revised deal runs through the 2019-20 campaign and will average $4 million per year. Florida confirmed the contract extension on Thursday.

Donovan reportedly earned $4.2 million in 2014-15, will bring home $3.9 million in 2015-16 and will see a flat salary of $4 million over each of the final four years of his new contract. (All monies not including incentives.)

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Assistant Chris Rumph on Gators defense: ‘They fool you … just like the girl I dated in high school’

With April Fool’s Day approaching, Florida Gators defensive line coach Chris Rumph indicated last week that he is no fan of tricks.

He has been burned before, which is why he is taking any signs of promise that Florida’s defense has showed him halfway through spring practice with a mountain of salt.

“They flash; they fool you,” said Rumph of his players. “[They]’re just like the girl I dated in high school. She told me she was gonna take me to the prom, and I’m getting my hair cut, trying to get my brother’s car, washing it up clean and all that stuff. I’m all excited about it … and then all of a sudden she calls and says, ‘I’m going to go with your best friend.’

“That’s how they are. They flash, they tell me they’re going to take me to the prom, but we haven’t gotten there yet.”

Yes, the Gators’ defense – which head coach Jim McElwain believes is well ahead of the offense to this point – is still a work in progress, according to Rumph. Florida will field arguably the nation’s best secondary in 2015, but he sees plenty of work ahead for the younger players in that unit as well as those in the defensive front seven.

Continue Reading » Assistant Chris Rumph on Gators defense: ‘They fool you … just like the girl I dated in high school’

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