Florida is well over a month into a search for its replacement for athletics director Jeremy Foley, and the Gators have done a pretty nice job of keeping the details of the day-to-day process out of the media.
But there are still some whispers about who will replace one of the most revered college athletics administrators in the country.
According to sources close to Franz Beard of Fightin’ Gators, the Gators may have identified a “first choice” in the search for Foley’s replacement– Arizona athletics director Greg Byrne.
“Everybody I have talked to says Byrne would be the perfect fit at Florida because he’s got a great eye for coaching talent and understands that it’s the AD’s job to give coaches what they need to succeed,” Beard wrote in a recent column, which cited sources in Tucson.
“I have no idea who else Florida will interview for the AD job, but I am convinced this is the right guy. He’s got SEC experience (associate AD at Kentucky; AD at Mississippi State), has proven he can balance the budget even with enormous debt, knows how to raise funds and isn’t afraid to think outside the box.”
Beard praised Byrne’s work at Arizona, which included taking on massive debt from facilities renovations made prior to his arrive in 2011 and retiring a significant portion of it due to good results of aggressive fundraising.
Foley, who is now 63 years old, announced in June that he plans to retire. He became the Gators athletics director in 1992 and has been an employee of the athletic department since 1976.
He is slated to remain in his role until Oct. 1.