Longtime Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley, one of the most successful college sports leaders in the country in the past 25 years, is retiring.
The school announced his decision Monday, saying Foley will officially step down Oct. 1.
The 63-year-old Foley informed his staff and head coaches of the move Monday, calling it quits after 40 years at Florida. He started as an intern in the ticket office in 1976 and took over as AD in 1992. Foley will remain at Florida as emeritus athletic director for the duration of his current contract.
“I want to do what’s right for Florida,” Foley said in a statement. “That’s why I have spent a lot of time thinking it through. And I want to make sure everyone understands this is my decision. I’m not sick. I’m not dissatisfied. I’m not getting pushed. It happens to all of us. The time comes.”
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Although Foley didn’t hire football coach Steve Spurrier, he brought a distinguished list of coaches to Gainesville while building one of the top programs in the Southeastern Conference and the country. Basketball coach Billy Donovan and football coach Urban Meyer were among his best hires. Each won a pair of national championships.
With Foley at the helm, the Gators won 27 national titles in 13 different sports. They had won nine championships in five sports before he took over. He also is the only sitting AD in the country to have won at least one national title in each of the last seven years. His streak continued when the men’s track and field team won the NCAA outdoor crown last week.
Foley also is the only AD in Division I history to lead a program that won multiple national championships in football (1996, 2006, 2008) and men’s basketball (2006, 2007).
Foley will remain connected to the program after stepping down, especially while the university completes several projects in the works. The most notable is a $64.5 million renovation to the on-campus O'Connell Center.
“I’ve invested a lot in this place,” Foley said. “Everybody who knows me knows I’m not putting my feet up. I still have some work to do for this organization. I think because the organization is in such good shape in terms of people and coaches and achievement, now is the perfect time.
“What that allows us to do is a smooth transition. That’s what you always want, a smooth transition.”
University President Kent Fuchs said Foley’s “amazing accomplishments as athletics director are well known.”
“The university is very grateful to him for the national championships, a winning sports program that is highly ranked year after year, and the growth of women’s sports,” Fuchs said. “Jeremy also has a well-deserved reputation for recruiting the nation’s most talented coaches and building an athletic association that is recognized as among the very best in the country. “What I especially appreciate about Jeremy, however, is his integrity and his commitment to our students. Success to Jeremy is a student-athlete who graduates and wins championships in the right way. That is the culture he created here over his 25-year career and it is what we will remember.”