DESTIN, Fla. — Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin weighed in on the SEC spring meetings hot button topics on Wednesday, going so far as to make a big prediction.
Stricklin sounded confident the SEC isn’t close to lifting its ban on alcohol sales in public stadium seating.
“I don’t see us opening it up across the stadium anytime soon as a league,” Stricklin said on Wednesday. “But I do think we’ll continue to find ways to create areas where people can responsibly enjoy some beverages like they currently do in our premium spaces.”
Florida set up a beer tent outside its stadium during the Gators’ spring game.
“It was very successful, no issues,” Stricklin said. “A bunch of old people showed up there; it was one of the quieter places on campus.”
Here are 5 other issues Stricklin addressed:
Graduate transfer policy
“I probably have come full circle,” Stricklin said. “I feel like when you talk about undergrads, we’re guaranteeing four-year scholarships. It seems fair and logical to say if you’re gonna transfer as undergrads, you need to sit out a year of residence, because you made a commitment just like the school made a commitment to you.
“But once you get your degree and you are a post-grad, I would think we could be a little bit more open about that.”
Stricklin said he’s in favor of graduate transfers having immediate eligibility, even with in-conference transfers. But he understands the other side of the debate.
“Those who want to keep our current policy will tell you that there’s still 51 other Power 5 schools they could go to, and that’s a fair point,” Stricklin said. “But if you think the SEC is the best conference and you’re a student-athlete and you want to go somewhere else, it seems logical to me.”
Perceived hypocrisy of transfer rules
“When people talk about players, players are not employees, they are student-athletes,” Stricklin said. “Coaches have contracts, and they are contracts that are negotiated. And when they leave there is usually some kind of financial provision that has to be accommodated.
“So, it’s hard to make that apples-to-apples comparison.”
Still, the comparisons exist: If a coach can change schools within the SEC without sitting out a year, why should it be different for the players?
“I know every time a coach leaves, someone in the media makes that comment, but it’s apples to oranges, and it’s not a fair comment,” Stricklin said. “I just think we should do everything we can to make our student-athletes successful academically and athletically.
“If someone has gotten their degree and has an opportunity … I think they should be able to play immediately; that’s just me.”
Stricklin expounded on that.
“There are usually two reasons why young people transfer: one is playing time and the other is the experience not being what they expected,” Stricklin said. “In both cases, I don’t know why we would prevent them from going and trying to be somewhere they can have more playing time or they can have a better experience, if they’ve got their undergraduate degree.”
“We play nine Power 5 games every year against top-level teams, including the Florida State game, which I don’t think we get enough credit for the Florida State game,” Stricklin said. “Maybe every year when we put our schedule out, we should make a big press release that we’re playing one of the best teams in another Power 5 conference in Florida State.
“We play that game every single year, home and away, and SEC games on top of that.”
Florida has recently worked out a 2-for-1 agreement with South Florida for games to be played in 2022 (in Gainesville), 2023 (in Tampa) and 2025 (Gainesville).
“It gives us a chance to get two home games, and the road game is a game I think we’ll have a lot of Gators at Raymond James Stadium,” Stricklin said. “We’ll look for creative ways to schedule, but we’d love to have seven home games a year. And we want to make sure we give our team a chance to be successful as possible in those eight SEC games.”
Florida opens the 2019 season against Miami (Fla.) in Orlando, in addition to closing the season at home against Florida State.
Gambling legislation effect
“The initial thing we have to do is make sure we’re educating our athletes and coaches on what the ruling means,” Stricklin said. “In Florida, we’re a long way from that [legalized sports betting] passing in our state. But before the school year we want to educate our students on it.”
Stricklin said the Gators will monitor things closely.
“It’s making sure everything is on the up and up, and your coaches and athletes aren’t being caught up in something you don’t want to be a part of,” he said. “You might have to be adding more compliance staff.”
Optics of high coaching salaries
“It’s one of the biggest challenges we have in college athletics, what our coaches are making,” Stricklin said. “We gave Dan [Mullen] a salary pool, and he came in under the pool. We have guys making a lot, and guys making below average so we can stay within budget.
“They are in the market that allows them to enjoy those kind of salaries, but the optics of it are not helpful.”
Florida AD Scott Stricklin