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Florida will make external hire at athletic director to replace Jeremy Foley

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Florida won't make an internal promotion — at the wishes of the candidates for it.

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Florida's search for an athletic director to replace the outgoing Jeremy Foley seemed to have a triad of qualified candidates for an internal promotion at the outset. But according to what a Florida spokesman told 247Sports, the Gators will be making an external hire instead — and that's something those candidates want.

"We've gotten a number of questions asking about internal interest in the job," Senior Associate Athletics Director Steve McClain told GatorBait. "Each of the internal people have made a decision not to pursue the athletic director position for their own individual reasons."

Those "internal people" are likely the trio of executive associate athletic directors under Foley — Mike Hill, Chip Howard, and Lynda Tealer — whose candidacies I detailed in early June, though it's possible it also includes people like Mike "Rocky" Spiegler, a senior associate AD.

While all three Foley lieutenants had compelling reasons for elevation in their own rights, none stood head and shoulders above the other two, and if all three don't really want the biggest chair, it's probably not a bad thing for them to continue working in the capacities in which they have all been successful for more than a decade at Florida.

The decision to make an external hire, though, complicates how Florida will move forward from Foley's quarter-century of work as athletic director. While the Florida AD job is as appealing on paper as any in the country, the pressure on an external hire will be much more substantial than it would have been on a favorite daughter or son, and that hire will not have the advantage of years and years of institutional and cultural knowledge.

Plus, Foley sticking around in an emeritus position — one likely to be heavy on fundraising, but not without an advisory capacity — means that the next Florida AD will still be at least partially shadowed by the last one. An external hire might not embrace that like Hill, Howard, and Tealer likely would have, and the specter of Foley might give external candidates pause when considering how much agency they would truly have in Florida's top job.

While my personal preference for Foley's replacement would have been an internal promotion, I also think that Florida will end up with a strong hire. I'll run down some logical candidates for an external hire on Friday.