Longtime Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley is stepping down after 25 years of overseeing the Gators’ athletic department.
Foley announced his plans to Florida coaches and staff members early Monday morning.
“After a long period of thought and consideration, I have made a decision to retire as the Athletics Director effective October 1, 2016,” Foley said in a statement through the school. “As difficult as a decision it has been to make, I know the time is right.
“So many memories. Of championships won. Of teams setting goals and then achieving them. The passion shown by Florida fans across the state, nation and world. Those letters or emails from student-athletes after they receive their degrees, so appreciative of their Gator experience. Those are what I’ll take with me because they are a part of me. This is a special place built by the effort, passion and drive of our coaches and student-athletes.”
The 63-year-old Foley, who took over for Bill Arnsparger as athletic director in 1992, will stay with the university as emeritus athletic director as part of his contract agreement. Foley will remain connected to the program as the university completes several projects currently in the works. The O’Connell Center is undergoing a $64.5 million renovation that will be completed in December, and a $25 million academic center for student-athletes is expected to open later this month.
“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.”
Foley was instrumental in Florida’s success over the past two decades. Under his watch, 27 Gators teams were crowned national champions, which is tied for the most among sitting athletic directors. Foley is also the only athletic director in Division I history to supervise a program that won multiple national titles in football (1996, 2006, ’08) and men’s basketball (2006, ’07). The Gators claimed the SEC All-Sports Trophy in 24 of Foley’s 25 years as Florida AD.
The second-longest-tenured athletic director in the country, Foley first started working in Florida’s athletic department as an intern in the ticket office in 1976.
“What a privilege it has been to be a part of this athletic program,” Foley said. “It’s never been a job — the relentless energy from the student-athletes and coaches ensured that. I’ve worked with some of the best in the business and met some truly outstanding people. I’ve been part of some memorable Gator events and Championships. I came to work every day with a staff full of friends and we’ve shared every emotion along the way. I have been truly blessed with a career I have loved at a place I love.”
Florida men’s basketball coach Mike White said in a tweet Monday that he was “grateful” to Foley.
“I came here to be able to work with Jeremy, so this is obviously a sad day,” White wrote. “He has built a culture of excellence in this athletic department and has done it with character and integrity.”
Florida football coach Jim McElwain also tweeted his appreciation for Foley on Monday.
Thank you, Jeremy. pic.twitter.com/OJnhSJ1gKs
— Jim McElwain (@CoachMcElwain) June 13, 2016
Florida has won a national championship in each of the past seven years and captured 14 national team titles since 2009, the highest total in the country.
“Jeremy’s amazing accomplishments as Athletics Director are well known, and 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,” Florida president Kent Fuchs said in a statement. “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.”
Foley plans to consult with Fuchs during the search for a new athletic director but won’t select his successor, a source told ESPN’s Brett McMurphy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.