Florida has hired Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin to the same position with the Gators, the program announced in a Tuesday release.
The release quotes Stricklin, University of Florida president Dr. Kent Fuchs, and outgoing athletic director Jeremy Foley.
"I'm really excited about this opportunity at Florida," Stricklin said. "I'm an SEC guy. I understand the position Florida holds in college athletics. I'm excited to come and be part of the department. It's a great staff here to work with. I love college towns. The opportunity to come and get invested in another community, with my family, you start balancing all that and you understand at this point in my career, this is an opportunity you just can't not do."
"I couldn't have left for any other place but Florida" Stricklin said. "It's just a special place not only in the world of the SEC, but in college athletics because of the success they've had and the way they've had it with the integrity. Florida holds a leadership position in college athletics. And you look at the academic reputation, it's one of the best universities in the country. That's a pretty hard combination to not take the opportunity if it's offered to you."
"The president and the AD have to support the coaches and staff and they all have to work to support the student-athletes," Stricklin said. "If we're all doing a really good job, then the fans and student body are going to have a great experience. It's not everybody supporting me. My job is to help support all of them."
"Scott Stricklin is a strong leader with tremendous experience who shares the University of Florida's most treasured values, from the success and well-being of our student athletes to excellence across the breadth of both men's and women's sports," said Fuchs. "We're confident that he will build on Jeremy Foley's legacy to take UF's program to even greater heights while leading the way in shaping the future of collegiate athletics nationally."
"I've known Scott on a personal and professional level for a long, long time," Foley said. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for Scott and what he has accomplished at Mississippi State and the other institutions where he has worked. Scott is a wonderful leader, and a great person. He has passion for student-athletes and loves working with and supporting coaches. Those two qualities alone make him a great fit for Florida.
"Scott is about the right things and running the business the right way," Foley added. "I have the utmost confidence that Scott will help the Gators carry out our mission to provide a championship experience with integrity. We've sat in the room together at AD meetings for several years now, and I've seen firsthand that Scott brings a deep understanding and appreciation for what it takes to run a successful athletic program, particularly in the Southeastern Conference. I couldn't be more excited to have Scott serve as the next athletic director at the University of Florida."
Florida also published a story from staff writer Scott Carter on Stricklin’s hiring, in which he gives some more rah-rah quotes:
"I don't care what sport you're putting on, if the jersey has orange and blue in it, I want that team to win and I want everybody else to want that team to win,'' Stricklin said. "That has to be part of who we are."
"They're the standard that everybody measures themselves against,'' Stricklin said. "When the Gators show up you have to straighten your tie and make sure everything is locked up. They are the benchmark.
"Professionally, that is an incredible challenge. That gets my juices flowing. We've got to figure out how we're going to be a part of continuing that, but there's no standing still. You either go forward or you fall behind, but how do you go forward from here? That kind of gets me fired up."
Stricklin will become Florida’s acting athletic director on November 1, with Foley extending his decades-long tenure as the Gators’ captain by one month after originally announcing an October 1 retirement date.
Stricklin will meet with reporters at a 1 p.m. press conference.
Florida signed Stricklin to a six-year contract worth just more than $1 million annually.
Florida #Gators announce a six-year, $6.46 million deal for new AD Scott Stricklin ($1.076M per). Doubles his Mississippi State salary.— Only Gators .com (@onlygators) September 27, 2016
Stricklin had been Mississippi State’s AD since 2010, when he ascended to the position following the departure of Greg Byrne for the same job at Arizona. When Florida’s pursuit of Foley’s successor first extended beyond the three strong candidates for an internal promotion, it very likely turned first to Byrne, who reportedly turned down the Gators, and to North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham, who reportedly changed his mind on coming to Gainesville.
But Stricklin was likely never far from the top of the Gators’ list, and their pursuit of him, which reportedly included making a second, more lucrative offer to him after a first one was rejected, has netted Florida one of the nation’s best-regarded athletic directors — and one who, at just 46, could perform the job at a high level for decades, much like Foley did.