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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Florida Gators considering indoor practice facility

The Florida Gators may build an indoor practice facility for the football team after all.

Despite athletic director Jeremy Foley stating repeatedly that an indoor practice facility was not a priority for the program, the Gators have submitted to the Florida Department of State a notice of bid/request for proposal requiring “design/build services” for “Project UAA-35, Indoor Football Practice Facility (Main Campus).”

University of Florida’s Athletics Association (UAA) is considering the possibilities of providing an indoor practice field for the football program on its current practice site located immediately north of McKethan (baseball) Stadium on the University of Florida campus. Also, a new storage building will be built at the NE corner of the football practice field to provide space for a satellite athletic training space, hydration station, toilet, and field maintenance equipment storage.

The total project budget is $11,900,000.00 including site improvements, underground utilities, fees, surveys & tests, total building comissioning, furnishings & equipment, and contingencies.

According to Florida spokesman Steve McClain, who sent a statement to The Gainesville Sun‘s Robbie Andreu, there are no plans currently on the horizon for the facility.

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Renderings released of Stephen C. O’Connell Center redesign not from winning firm

Updated on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m.

Architectural firm NBBJ on Tuesday shared with Sports Illustrated three renderings of its upcoming $45 million renovation of the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

Unfortunately, according to the Florida Gators, NBBJ did not win the contract for the redesign of the O’Dome and the renderings showcased nationally on SI.com are not what the venue will look like after construction is completed in December 2015.

The University Athletic Association then announced that Davis Architects and CPPI Construction Management, working in conjunction with TLC Engineering, just began design meetings with the school on Tuesday.

Though Davis Architects’ portfolio is not as modern as NBBJ’s work, the firm based in Birmingham, Alabama, has more experience designing collegiate athletic facilities, mostly within its home state.

The company built UAB’s Blazer Stadium (Birmingham), Auburn’s Auburn Arena (Auburn) and Alabama’s Coleman Coliseum (Tuscaloosa), and also performed two end zone expansions on Bryant-Denny Stadium (Tuscaloosa).

Davis Architects completed the $4.5 million renovation of the O’Dome’s gymnastics studio in December 2012, expanding the area to 18,000 square feet (adding 6,600 square feet) while upgrading offices, training rooms, equipment and electronics.

CPPI designed and constructed the $52 million expansion of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, adding 3,000 seats to a new club level in 2012. It is also responsible or the construction for the stadium’s west concourse renovations, sky box additions and Heisman Trophy statue installation.

Furthermore, CPPI built the Heavener Football Complex, Ring Tennis Complex, basketball practice facility, entire lacrosse facility and indoor tennis facility; it also and made additions or renovations to the baseball locker room, Lemerand Center, softball complex, golf club house and swimming & diving facility.

Construction on the multipurpose venue is not scheduled to begin until March 2015.

When the concept for the project was first announced in 2012, the renderings below were released by the University of Florida to The Gainesville Sun:


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FOUR BITS: Bostic, Prather, hidden ball trick

1 » Chicago Bears linebacker Jon Bostic did not have the easiest rookie season as he was thrust into a starting role before he was truly ready for it due to an injury suffered by veteran D.J. Williams. Bostic showed his inexperience (on the NFL level) at middle linebacker and struggled at times during the season, so much so that with Williams set to return, Bostic was moved to strong side linebacker where he was set to compete for the starting gig this offseason. However, according to John Mullin of CSN Chicago, Bostic has been splitting time with Williams as the first-team middle linebacker during organized team activities and is “making a strong impression” in the early going. “Bostic has significantly raised the stakes [of the starting competition] despite training camp not starting until late July,” wrote Mullin. “Bostic is generally considered to have the most pure explosive, sudden speed of all the linebackers [on the roster].”

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Hlaselo accused of sexual assault, kicked off team

Updated on June 29 at 5 p.m.

Florida Gators junior runner Andries Dumisane Hlaselo was arrested on Tuesday for sexual battery after being accused of raping a woman on June 12 and is currently being held at the Alachua County Jail on $100,000 bond.

According to a The Gainesville Sun report, Hlaselo allegedly sexually assaulted a female friend of his roommate who was asleep at his home. She awoke and told him to stop before shoving him away and calling the police.

The arrest report states that Hlaselo told police he entered his roommate’s bedroom naked with the intention of having sex with the victim. The report states he told police he had sex with the victim while she was semi-conscious and without her consent. He left when she woke up and began “freaking out.”

The University Athletic Association announced Wednesday that Hlaselo has been kicked off of the team: “We are aware of the arrest of Dumisane Hlaselo. We find these charges deeply disturbing. He is no longer a member of the University of Florida track & field team.”

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WR Chris Rainey back practicing with Gators

Redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey will be rejoining the Florida Gators for practice this week after being suspended for a month following an arrest and third-degree felony charge (since reduced) of aggravated stalking on Sept. 14., according to the University of Florida‘s University Athletic Association.

Rainey will be reinstated on a temporary basis, being allowed to practice with the team until he meets a number of conditions established by the coaching staff and administration. He will not be active for the Mississippi State game on Saturday. With Florida’s bye week coming up on Oct. 23, Rainey will have at least three weeks to practice before potentially seeing game action.

OGGOA has learned that Rainey being active for the Georgia game is “very likely” if he meets his conditions and goals, which are focused on showing a renewed effort off the field both in the classroom and during team activities.

“Chris Rainey is working towards being part of our football team again,” head coach Urban Meyer said in the UAA’s statement. “I’m disappointed that he violated a core value of our program, but he continues to pay a price for his actions. Chris will have to meet a set of conditions to become a part of our team again and although he is practicing, he will not play this weekend. The timetable for his return will depend on his ability to follow the guidelines we have laid out for him.”

Agreeing to deferred prosecution for a reduced misdemeanor stalking charge on Sept. 27, Rainey was handed six months probation, 10 hours of community service and a number of other penalties by the state including fines. As long as he fulfills the requirements and obligations presented to him by the court, he will be granted amnesty and the charges will be dismissed in six month’s time as he was a first-time offender.

“I am embarrassed and sorry for my actions and I apologize to everyone that I affected by my behavior,” Rainey said in his first public comments contained in the UAA’s release. “I’m working towards being a part of the Florida football program again and I realize that representing this University is a privilege. I have spent the last several weeks reflecting on my actions and realized that is not who I want to be.”

Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

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Florida student-athletes graduating in Fall 2009

According to the University of Florida, 30 student-athletes will be earning their degrees in commencement ceremonies on campus over the weekend. Eleven Florida Gators football players and four baseball players lead the pack that also includes some of the best and most accomplished athletes in school history like football’s Tim Tebow, softball’s Stacey Nelson and baseball’s Matt LaPorta. OGGOA readers can view the entire list below as compiled by the University Athletic Association.
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