Florida Gators postpone $60 million renovation to Stephen C. O’Connell Center for one year

The Florida Gators announced Wednesday that a planned $60 million renovation to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center has been postponed one year.

Citing an “aggressive schedule, escalating costs associated with the rehabilitation project and a change in the construction management team,” the University of Florida‘s University Athletic Association will no longer push the project forward at the conclusion of the 2014-15 basketball season.

“The renovation proposal is a major renewal of one of our campus’s most iconic buildings,” said new school president Kent Fuchs in a release. “It’s incumbent on us to take the time and do it right.”

According to Florida, the new construction management team’s design plan is “about 60 percent complete.”

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While team falters, Florida making commitment to O’Connell Center, basketball facilities

Florida Gators basketball (12-11, 5-5 SEC) is on pace for its worst season under head coach Billy Donovan since his first two with the program. It should be no surprise, however, that with Donovan’s track record of immense success and the basketball program’s still-growing national prestige, the Gators continue to invest in the future.

Announced in June with renovations expected to begin in March 2015, the 35-year-old Stephen C. O’Connell Center is set to undergo a massive renovation that will include a “prominent main entrance,” club seating, permanent chair backs, a “center-hung, high-definition video board” with a sound system, concourses and concession stands, offices and locker rooms, and advanced “mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.”

Initially projected to cost $45 million, $10 million of which would be contributed by the University of Florida, the updated price tag is $60 million, athletic director Jeremy Foley said on Monday. UF and the University Athletic Association have contributed with the rest of the $60 million committed via donations.

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Muschamp discusses Florida dismissal with class as Foley, Machen sing his praises

If you did not know entering Monday’s three-headed press conference with Florida Gators president Bernie Machen, athletic director Jeremy Foley and head football coach Will Muschamp that the purpose of the event was to discuss the dismissal of the third man on that list, you might have thought it was held to explain why Muschamp was receiving a raise and contract extension.

Over approximately 45 minutes inside the Florida football facility, Machen and Foley sung Muschamp’s praises. When Muschamp got to the podium, he shared similar sentiments about his employers and the program he was leaving behind.

“From my perspective as president, I have treasured – literally treasured – the last four years in working with Will. He was asked to come here and build a program, a program built on character and good academic values, and he was asked to develop young men that would be a credit to the Gator Nation. He has done that,” said Machen.

“Will and Carol and their family … are beloved by the people of this community, and we feel like they are ours. Never have I worked with a coach in any sport over three different universities that has been more supportive of the university mission and what we’re trying to accomplish. In the end, can you say that someone who has to leave has made a positive contribution? And the answer for that is definitely yes for Will Muschamp. In fact, I would love for my son or my grandson to have the opportunity to be coached by Will Muschamp.”

Foley admitted it was hard to follow Machen’s comments because it is how everyone within the Gators program feels about Muschamp.

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Treon Harris sexual battery investigation incident report released by University of Florida police

The University of Florida on Wednesday released its full police report on the incident involving Florida Gators quarterback Treon Harris and an accusation of sexual battery by a female student.

The three-document report, which totals 166 pages, shows a comprehensive investigation that included an extensive interview process as well as the collection of evidence both in physical and digital form.

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Florida, Notre Dame exchange tweets of support

Outside of former head coach Urban Meyer, there has never been any substantial connection between the Florida Gators and Notre Dame Fighting Irish…until Friday when official Twitter accounts for both schools traded well wishes ahead of their respective football games this weekend.

It all started with the official University of Florida Twitter account, which sent a simple, innocuous message to the official University of Notre Dame account.


The Fighting Irish athletic program got the gist of the message and responded with a similar message of support to the Gators for their homecoming weekend game.

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Florida Gators QB Treon Harris reinstated from suspension, will not play Saturday vs. LSU

The Florida Gators on Friday officially ended the indefinite suspension of freshman quarterback Treon Harris, reinstating him to the football team but announcing he will not play in Saturday evening’s home game against the LSU Tigers.

“We have been notified that the University and legal process is complete,” head coach Will Muschamp began, in a statement released to the public.

“Treon has been reinstated to the team, but he will not play Saturday. This has been a learning experience for everyone involved. Treon has been honest with me throughout the process and is looking forward to rejoining his teammates.”

The female student who accused Harris of sexual battery on Monday withdrew her complaint early Friday, four days after the two allegedly engaged in sexual conduct.

Harris subsequently had his University of Florida suspension lifted, which led to the University Athletic Association allowing him to rejoin the football program immediately.

“The University of Florida has informed the University Athletic Association that the sexual battery complaint has been withdrawn, and the university is not proceeding with any action,” UF spokesperson Janine Sikes said in a statement released to OnlyGators.com late Friday afternoon.

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Florida Gators QB Treon Harris reinstated after accuser withdraws sexual battery complaint

The female student who accused Florida Gators freshman quarterback Treon Harris of sexual battery on Monday has withdrawn her complaint four days later, and the player has subsequently had his school suspension lifted.

“The University of Florida has informed the University Athletic Association that the sexual battery complaint has been withdrawn, and the university is not proceeding with any action,” UF spokesperson Janine Sikes said in a statement released to OnlyGators.com late Friday afternoon.

The University of Florida provided the following statement to OnlyGators.com earlier in the afternoon, announcing the Harris’s accuser had rescinded her sexual battery claim:

The student who accused Treon Harris of sexual battery has withdrawn her criminal complaint. This means she is not pursuing criminal charges against him at this time but maintains the right to do so in the future.

The police report will be released when it is available.

The UAA will have more information on his football status later in the day.

The university always will take swift and decisive action when we have concerns about the safety of our students.

The University Athletic Association has yet to announce a decision on Harris’s playing status with the Gators, but a decision will likely come before the day is out.

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The Silver Lining for Thursday, October 9, 2014: Wider lens on the Treon Harris incident, Cleatgate

Due to a shift in schedule for the Florida Gators, this week’s The Silver Lining was pushed to Thursday. It will next be published on Wednesday, Oct. 15.

Taking a wider lens to the Treon Harris incident

This was originally written at 2:03 a.m. because no matter how I attempted to begin discussing this issue, I found my final product to be unsatisfactory. In fact, this is my fourth fifth (following the Huntley Johnson press release) draft of the same segment of this column, which I hope communicates how serious and important I consider this subject.

The details – and more importantly, the facts – of the sexual battery investigation involving Florida freshman quarterback Treon Harris remain a mystery at this time, and there is unlikely to be anything truly substantial that comes out until the University of Florida Police Department decides whether to charge Harris with a crime.

Harris’s attorney, Huntley Johnson, is just doing his job by publicly stating that he expects Harris to be cleared of the accusation and hopes the situation resolves itself in a timely fashion. The press release Johnson issued on Thursday is standard operating procedure for cases such as this with Johnson getting out in front of everything by presenting a mountain of circumstantial evidence in an effort to paint Harris as innocent, whether he committed the crime or not. Granted, there is more information than usual in Johnson’s release, but the concept of the release itself is quite common.

Even if everything Johnson wrote on Thursday is determined to be completely accurate, sexual battery may still have been committed that morning. “No” means “no” and “stop” means “stop” at any time, whether it is said before or during a sexual encounter.

Similarly, the UFPD continues to do its job, in conjunction with the Gainesville Police Department, by conducting a thorough investigation including the significant collection (and eventual analysis) of forensic evidence. The University of Florida and University Athletic Association also did their job by acting swiftly and justly, suspending Harris indefinitely pending the results of this initial investigation.

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