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Florida signs track coach Mike Holloway to extension through 2028

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One of Florida’s best coaches is set to stay with the Gators for another decade.

Track and Field: NCAA Indoor Championships Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Few coaches have ever won as much with the Florida Gators as current men’s and women’s track coach Mike “Mouse” Holloway.

And now Mouse will have another decade to add titles to an orange and blue house.

Florida announced a new, 10-year contract extension with Holloway running through 2028 on Wednesday, touting his “historical achievements with the Gators” and reputation as “one of the best coaches in the world at the international level.”

The release quotes Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin and Holloway.

“This is where he wants to be, and when a guy like Mouse Holloway says he wants to finish his career here, you don’t have to be a very smart athletic director to go, ‘Well, let’s figure out a way to make that happen,’” Stricklin said.

”I can’t tell you how good that makes me feel,” Holloway said. “This time of year with jobs opening, there’s always people calling with interest. It’s nice to be courted, it’s nice to be wanted, I guess, but at the end of the day, the trigger for me was when Scott said to me, ‘I want to make you my track and field coach. I want you to be here as long as I’m here and as long as you want to be here.’ That was big for me.

”That squelches all the noise,” Holloway continued. “There are people talking about me going to other schools. This puts it to bed. It’s important to me (the student-athletes) know I’m totally committed to them and this university. There’s a commitment on both sides here. Scott wants me here, I want to be here; we want to move forward and want to stop all the noise in the room, because it’s pretty loud. We want to quiet it down and get back to the business of what we do: performing at a high level at the championship meets.

”We’ve spent a lot of time building this program. I just don’t know if I could ever walk away from this. I don’t know how I could. Anybody who knows me knows that I love this place. I’m just so thankful to everybody around me that’s worked so hard along with me to get us where we are.”

That mention from Holloway of “people talking about me going to other schools” may seem out of place for a release like this, but a story from Scott Carter detailing how the deal came to be helps flesh that out — if only a little.

In the wake of an eighth national championship for the men’s program at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March, and the UF men and women sweeping the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Championships earlier this month for the first time in school history, Holloway’s future became a topic of conversation in the track and field community.

The man they call “Mouse” had heard from potential suitors before but never seriously considered leaving the place he calls home and the program he has built into a national powerhouse. Still, some wondered heading into this week’s NCAA East Region preliminaries in Tampa if Holloway might be available.

In recent conversations, Holloway and Athletic Director Scott Stricklin sought to end any speculation about Holloway’s future and agreed upon the lengthy contract extension.

All that said, keeping Holloway at Florida — and, given that Holloway is 57, likely doing so until his retirement — is a major coup for Stricklin, and for Florida. Mouse’s Gators have brought eight national championships and 14 SEC titles back to Gainesville, including an unprecedented double of men’s and women’s SEC outdoor titles just under a fortnight ago, and will make a run at a third straight men’s outdoor title and a first-ever women’s outdoor title in June.

And though terms of Holloway’s deal were not disclosed in the release or Carter’s story, it’s a safe bet that they make him among the best-compensated collegiate track coaches in America, if not the best-compensated such coach.

The peace of mind of having Holloway signed to a long-term deal will allow Stricklin to focus on other matters, like the ongoing search for a swim coach to replace the legendary Gregg Troy, and will allow Holloway and his athletes to pursue those national titles without distraction.

It’s easier to run forward when you’re not looking around, after all.