GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A new era of Florida athletics is upon us.
University of Florida president Kent Fuchs now faces the daunting task of replacing Jeremy Foley, who will retire on Oct. 1 after 25 years as the Gators athletics director.
“If I could clone Jeremy Foley and take off 20 years, that’s the ideal person,” Fuchs said.
Fuchs said Florida’s former board of trustees chairman Manny Fernandez has agreed to lead the national search. Foley also will assist Fernandez and Fuchs in finding the next AD.
“We’re going to ask Jeremy for some names,” Fuchs said. “He said he’s got a few suggestions. We’ve already had a lot of head hunters that have contacted us.”
Two prominent names with ties to Florida, Steve Spurrier and Duke athletics director Kevin White (father of UF basketball Mike White), won’t be candidates for the job simply because of their age.
Here are five potential candidates to replace Foley:
Florida Executive Associate Athletics Director (external affairs)
Hill was hired by Foley in 1993 and appears to be the most likely member of his staff to receive the promotion. Hill’s responsibilities include overseeing the men’s basketball and tennis teams, multi-media rights and marketing, the latter of which has been a huge asset during his 20-plus years with the program. Hill was also a candidate to become Clemson’s athletics director in 2012.
Florida Executive Associate Athletics Director (internal affairs)
Howard, like Foley, has worked his way up the Florida ranks and joined the University Athletic Association in 1989. He supervises the baseball and football program, including the scheduling for UF coach Jim McElwain & Co. Howard also is in charge of capital improvement project management and has coordinated facility upgrades such as the indoor practice complex.
Bernard Muir, Stanford Athletic Director
Stanford is the only program in the country that’s been able to match the success of UF athletics under Foley, and Muir was born and raised in Gainesville, Fla. He served under White at Notre Dame, then became athletics director at Georgetown and Delaware before coming to Stanford. Like Foley, Muir has a master’s degree in sports administration from Ohio University.
Greg Byrne, Arizona Vice President for Athletics
Byrne, 44, is the son of long-time Texas A&M athletics director Bill Byrne and has experience in the SEC. He was the associate AD at Kentucky for four years before his move to Mississippi State, where he was promoted to athletics director in 2008 and hired Dan Mullen away from Florida. Byrne has made some impressive hires and facility upgrades at Arizona.
John Currie, Kansas State Athletics Director
Currie has spent 12 years in the SEC, working in Tennessee’s athletic department from 1997 to 2009 and eventually becoming executive associate athletic director. At Kansas State, he has initiated $210 million in facility improvements, particularly within the football program, while also creating a self-sustaining budget that was once in massive debt.