GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida formally introduced new athletics director Scott Stricklin in an on-campus news conference Tuesday.
Stricklin, who was in the same role at Mississippi State since 2010, will succeed longtime Gators AD Jeremy Foley, who is now set to retire on Nov. 1.
Here were the highlights from Stricklin’s comments:
- Dr. Kent Fuchs: “We looked for an AD who truly wanted to be a Florida Gator. We’ve met some wonderful people along the way during our search. But there was one person from the very beginning who had everything we were looking for. Our new athletic director exhibits strong leadership in everything he does. He’s had a wealth of experience at excellent universities, including as an athletic director in the SEC. He was voted the 2015-16 Athletic Director of the Year by NACDA, and most importantly, he and his family have embraced the Florida Gators.”
- Stricklin: “This was a very challenging decision for me to make the decision to leave a place that is my alma mater; it’s very important to me, where I had built a lot of relationships, had a lot of family connections. And I get calls from time to time, fortunate enough, every now and then the last few years from these search firm guys calling, asking if I’d have an interest in a certain job. And I had never pursued any of those. And I finally told one here recently, I said, you know, there may be two or three jobs in the country I might be interested in leaving Mississippi State for, and those jobs may never call and that’s okay, because I’ve got a good deal. And then this job came up. And going through this process, it became obvious to me that there’s really only one job I’d leave Mississippi State for, and that is to be a Florida Gator. Okay. And really that says something really special about Mississippi State and what that place means to me, but it says something really special about the University of Florida and what this place represents.”
- “Florida has set a standard not just in the SEC, but across the country, as being a place that not only wins and has success on the courts and on the fields and on the tracks of this conference, but across the country. And they’ve developed that relationship by doing things the right way, with great integrity, and that’s something I know everyone here takes so much pride in.”
- On predecessor Jeremy Foley: “Certainly there’s one person the last quarter century who’s driven that boat, and that’s Jeremy, my good friend. Jeremy, arguably — and it may not be much of an argument — is the best athletic director in the history of the SEC. And I firmly believe that. And there’s been some really good ones. But Jeremy has set a standard. Last several years I’ve gotten to know him as a colleague and then as a friend, and he’s always been there with a word of advice. Sometimes it was wanted, sometimes not. But he’s been a great confidant. I can’t imagine how special it is to walk into an opportunity like this and have a guy like Jeremy available to seek as a resource. No one knows the Florida Gators better than Jeremy Foley does, and to have him available at a moment’s notice is such an incredible resource and a great benefit. And really appreciate you, Jeremy. Thank you.
- “I’m so excited and I’m really challenged by the opportunity to be a part of figuring out what’s next at Florida, to figure out how we take this great platform that’s been developed and we keep building on it and supporting these people in a way to be really successful.”
- “I admire so much what has happened here. And so it was much more excitement than it was trepidation. It’s much better starting off from a position of a place that’s accustomed to success, knows how to exhibit that success, have the right people in place. Jeremy’s put together a great staff. I’m going to really benefit from that. I’m going to benefit from all the work he’s done. So I see it as nothing but a positive.”
- “I think it’s the best job in college athletics, so it is very special. … Our faith is strong so we did a lot of praying over this, but I feel it’s where we’re meant to be.”
- On commitment to all sports: “We have what, 500 student-athletes, 21 sports? If they’re putting on an orange and blue uniform that has Gators across it, we want them to win. … We tried to do the same the last several years at MSU. I think that there’s so much return when everybody who walks on your campus feels like they are valued equally and that they’re given all the tools necessary that they can get to be as successful as possible. Winners breed winners, and the more winners you put on your campus, the better your campus is going to be.”
- On plans for baseball facility: “Well, the master plan that has been put in place is obviously going to be kind of the framework that we work off of. I love college baseball. I’ve worked — I’ve seen a lot of SEC baseball games from my roles in different schools in the past, and I’m really excited to work with Sully and what he’s got built here. And I’m looking forward to getting more details on what the vision is from the updating the baseball stadium. I think it’s a great sport; right? And Florida’s been really good at it, and I think we’re going to make sure this facility matches that.”
- On off the field expectations: “You want everybody to understand they’re representing themselves, their teammates and their hometown with everything they do, everything they post. … You’re going to have young people mess up from time to time, and when that happens you have to make sure you take steps that are going to modify behavior.”
- On social media: “More importantly, when am I going to change the Twitter handle, right? We’re working on that right now. You know, I don’t start here, I think the earliest I would start here is November 1, so I have a little transition time to work on that and be spending the next month really working hard on that part. Kidding. … You know, I like social media because I think it’s a way you can communicate directly with people. And there’s a lot of people who care about our athletic programs. That’s one of the great things about college athletics is the passion people have for what our young people and our coaches do. And the opportunity to directly community to the masses is really cool, something that didn’t exist 15 years ago.”
- On timeline for hire: “I think I first got a phone call sometime in June. So it was after Jeremy announced. Some on-and-off conversation throughout the summer, and it kind of picked up somewhere in August and picked up some momentum there. And you know, the reason for the timing, I think there’s a lot of factors at play. I had some factors. UF had some factors. Candidly, Florida was kind enough to work with Mississippi State on some factors that needed to be kind of considered, which I really appreciate. I think that shows respect the two institutions have for one another and the respect the institutions in this league have for one another. But during, you know, from about mid August on, I had a chance to really kind of focus in and figure out is this an opportunity that I was willing to look into and to pursue. And at the end of the day I decided obviously it was.”