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Sunshine State Report

The latest on college sports in Florida

Former Armwood star Alvin Bailey leaving UF

Former Armwood High star Alvin Bailey is transferring after three nondescript seasons at Florida.

EVE EDELHEIT | Times

Former Armwood High star Alvin Bailey is transferring after three nondescript seasons at Florida.

After three nondescript seasons at the University of Florida, former Armwood High multi-purpose threat Alvin Bailey is transferring, according to multiple reports.

An Under Armour All-American as a Hawks senior, Bailey will have two seasons remaining if he transfers to a I-AA or Division II program. Youngstown State, Eastern Kentucky, Samford and Valdosta State have contacted him, Hawks coaches said Sunday evening.

A versatile cog in the Hawks' run to a 2011 state championship (later forfeited for FHSAA violations), Bailey managed only three receptions as a Gator -- all in 2015. He played sparingly in 2014 and was redshirted in '13.

Moreover, Coach Jim McElwain signed five receivers -- three of them four-star prospects -- in February.

Though barely conspicuous at UF, Bailey arguably was the offensive MVP of Armwood's '11 squad. Thrust into regular quarterback duty when starter Darryl Richardson sustained a bursa sac injury in the season opener, Bailey amassed 2,251 total yards and 21 touchdowns. More than 1,000 were compiled in five playoff games.

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Florida Gators announce eight-person committee to find new AD

The Florida Gators are looking for a new athletic director to replace Jeremy Foley, who is retiring on Oct. 1.

Matt Baker | Tampa Bay Times

The Florida Gators are looking for a new athletic director to replace Jeremy Foley, who is retiring on Oct. 1.

The Florida Gators' search for a next athletic director will be led by an eight-person committee, the school announced Wednesday morning.

UF will be trying to replace Jeremy Foley, who announced his retirement last week after spending a quarter century as the school's AD.

Former board of trustees chairman Manny Fernandez will lead the search, as university president Kent Fuchs said last week. Fernandez leads a venture capital fund in Fort Myers.

The other committee members are:

• Cammy Abernathy, the dean of the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering and member of the school's Title IX committee

• Ron Coleman, a former president of the Gator Boosters and the first African-American student-athlete to be offered a UF scholarship

• Andy Fawbush, a Jacksonville attorney and the president of the University Athletic Association Board

• Virginia Maurer, who served five terms on the athletic association's board of directors and is a professor of business law and legal studies at UF

• W. Andrew McCollough, the chair of UF's intercollegiate athletics committee and an associate provost

• Tom Mitchell, UF's vice president for advancement …

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FSU football signee Shavar Manuel headed to juco, report says

Tampa native Shavar Manuel made headlines on national signing day when he flipped from Florida to Florida State - but he might not end up at either school.

The former Blake High standout has signed with Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College, according to a report from 247 Sports. Manuel had been working to get academically eligible.

Manuel, a four-star defensive lineman, signed with FSU in February out of Brandenton's IMG Academy. The 6-foot-4, 290-pound prospect was the nation's No. 67 overall recruit, according to 247 Sports' composite rankings.

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What are Florida Gators' biggest issues for Jeremy Foley's successor?

We've written a lot about the upcoming retirement of Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley. A few final odds and ends:

* UF president Kent Fuchs said facilities upgrades will be the most pressing issue for Foley's successor. "We need to raise a lot of money and invest in facilities, and Jeremy mentioned some of those," Fuchs said.

Specifically, those are football, baseball and softball. Details haven't been announced, but UF is drafting a master plan for them and might even take on debt to complete the projects.

"We need to raise a lot of money and invest in facilities, and we'll do that," Fuchs said. ‘Jeremy's going to help with that, and I'm communicating as well." 

* Foley's successor will also have other issues to address in the coming years, which is why Gator Boosters president Len Johnson hopes the next AD has a strong background in athletic administration.

"There are lots of challenges," said Johnson, who lives in Dade City. "Financial challenges. What is the makeup of the competitive landscape going forward? Is it different conferences? How is that going to shake out? I think you have to be pretty nimble to stay up with all of that... …

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Jeremy Foley: 'I don't want a clean break from the Gators. Ever.'

Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley addresses reporters at his retirement news conference Tuesday.

Matt Baker | Tampa Bay Times

Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley addresses reporters at his retirement news conference Tuesday.

GAINESVILLE - Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said that he's retiring on good terms, with the Gators in good position, as he prepares to step away from the department he's led for the last quarter century.

"It's all good," Foley said Tuesday during his retirement news conference. "It's my call...

"You feel like it's a perfect time for a transition because things are going so well."

Foley said he will serve as a resource for UF as it prepares to hire his successor. He said he doesn't envision being involved in other parts of college athletics - don't expect to see him on future College Football Playoff selection committees.

UF plans to use an external consultant to help the national search for the Gators' next AD, president Kent Fuchs said. Former board of trustees member Manny Fernandez will lead the search process.
Foley said he is grateful for his 40 years in the department.

"I'm always going to be part of this institution..." Foley said. "I don't ever want a clean break from the Gators. Ever."

Fuchs said UF has already been contacted by several outside agencies, and he plans to do a truly national search to find the best candiate. …

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Billy Donovan on Jeremy Foley: 'He changed my life'

Billy Donovan and Jeremy Foley celebrate the Florida Gators' trip to the 2007 Final Four.

Tampa Bay Times file

Billy Donovan and Jeremy Foley celebrate the Florida Gators' trip to the 2007 Final Four.

After two national championships and four trips to the Final Four, Billy Donovan ranks among the most successful coaches in Florida Gators history.

But when UF athletic director Jeremy Foley hired Donovan in 1996, Donovan wasn't yet a major name; he was a 30-year-old with only two years of head coaching experience at Marshall.

So when Foley announced his retirement Monday at age 63, Donovan — now the head coach of the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder — felt grateful for the chance Foley took 20 years ago.

"He changed my life," Donovan told the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday. "He changed my life. He provided an opportunity for me at a very, very young age. … He took a chance on me. l'll always be grateful for that.

"I don't lose sight and perspective. A lot of people can say, yeah you won some games. It's not about that. It's about the opportunity and how thankful I am for what he was able to do for me at a very, very young age, then go 19 years. It's unheard of that the athletic director's going to be the same person in place."

Foley will address reporters at a news conference later today in Gainesville, and I'll have more from my interview with Donovan up later.

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Jim McElwain: Jeremy Foley's retirement a 'shock'

Florida Gators football coach Jim McElwain called athletic director Jeremy Foley's retirement a "shock" and said his presence was one reason why he wanted to join UF.

Here's the statement McElwain released Monday on Twitter:

"Jeremy Foley is a huge reason for the success of this athletic department at the University of Florida. His departure comes as a shock. He was a huge part of why we came to UF - I was honored to work with someone who meant so much to college athletics. Jeremy's vision was more than creating a successful athletic department. What drew me to him was that he hadn't lost focus of why we do what we do. For him, it was about the players and just as much their success off the field than on it.

"Jeremy has helped me in so many ways. I will miss our daily interactions, but I know he'll always be there for us. Jeremy is truly a great Gator."

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Florida Gators AD Jeremy Foley retiring

Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley and then-football coach Urban Meyer during a ceremony after the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 2010. Foley is retiring, effective Oct. 1.

CHRIS ZUPPA | Times

Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley and then-football coach Urban Meyer during a ceremony after the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 2010. Foley is retiring, effective Oct. 1.

Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley is retiring after 25 seasons as the leader of one of the most powerful programs in the country.

Foley, 63, will remain in that role until Oct. 1, when his replacement takes over. Foley will stay on as the school's emeritus athletic director.

"As difficult as a decision it has been to make," Foley said in a statement, "I know the time is right."

Foley's tenure brought unprecedented success to Gainesville. No active AD has more national championships than Foley, who added a 27th when the men's outdoor track and field team won a title Friday.

He's the only AD in Division I history to win multiple national championships in football and men's basketball. The Gators won three football titles (1996, 2006, 2008) and two in basketball (2006-07) under his watch. …

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Florida Gators snag oral commitment from Largo's Jaquaze Sorrells

Largo defensive lineman Jaquaze Sorrells orally committed to the Florida Gators on Friday night, he announced on Twiter.

Sorrells, a 6-foot-3, 240-pound athlete, just finished his freshman year at Largo. He amassed 37 tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery.

He is UF's second oral commitment for the class of 2019, after cornerback Jaleel McRae from New Smyrna Beach.

Oral commitments are non-binding until recruits sign letters of intent during their senior years.

 

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A.J. Puk chosen sixth overall by Oakland A's

Florida Gators left-hander A.J. Puk has been chosen by the A's with the No. 6 overall pick in Thursday evening's MLB amateur draft.

The 6-foot-7 Iowa native was viewed by some pundits as the potential top pick. Puk is 2-3 for the Gators with a 3.21 ERA. He has issued 31 walks with 95 strikeouts in 70 innings.

Puk's Gators host Florida State this weekend in the NCAA's super regionals.

 

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Steve Spurrier's name being added to Florida Gators' football stadium

Steve Spurrier, 71, is the winningest coach in UF history.

AP Photo

Steve Spurrier, 71, is the winningest coach in UF history.

The Florida Gators are renaming their field in honor of legendary coach Steve Spurrier.

Spurrier, 71, is the winningest coach in UF history. He won at least nine games every year during his tenure (1990-01) and left with a 122-27-1 record there. The head ball coach's highlights included six SEC championships and the 1996 national title - the first in program history.

"Coach Spurrier did more than win a Heisman Trophy, a national championship and a bunch of games," athletic director Jeremy Foley said in a statement. "Coach Spurrier changed the culture of Florida athletics.

Spurrier's statue already stands outside the stadium; he won the school's first Heisman Trophy in 1966 after passing for 2,012 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Spurrier retired midway through last season from South Carolina, where he also has the most wins in school history.

The official name will be Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

The Gators' basketball arena is also changing its name thanks to a new sponsor. It will be the Exactech Arena at the O'Connell Center.

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Florida Gators' season opener, North Texas kickoff times set

The SEC has announced two more kickoff times for the Florida Gators' upcoming season.

UF will host UMass in the opener at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 3. The SEC Network will broadcast the game.

The Gators' third game will be at home against North Texas at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 17. That game will be shown on ESPNU.

The second kickoff was previously announced; UF will host Kentucky at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 10 on CBS.

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Florida Gators' Antonio Callaway allowed on campus, but long-term status still unresolved

Loren Elliott | Tampa Bay Times

The suspension of Florida Gators receiver Antonio Callaway has been modified so he can attend classes on campus and use the school's facilities, according to his attorney, Huntley Johnson.

Callaway has been serving an interim suspension since Jan. 27 as the university investigates whether Callaway violated the school's code of conduct during an unspecified incident in early December. Johnson has previously said that the allegation has "no merit." 

Gators coach Jim McElwain said during last week's SEC coaches' meetings that Callaway was not enrolled in UF's classes for the first summer session.

"We are working through the process that the University has in place to reach a final resolution in this matter," Johnson said in a statement.

In a phone interview, Johnson said he hopes the process is resolved "sooner rather than later," but he declined further comment.

The school's general guidelines call for most reviews to be conducted within 60 business days. 

The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Callaway was UF's top receiver last year. As a true freshman, he led UF in receiving yards (678), caught four touchdowns - including the winner against Tennessee - and scored on two punt returns. …

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Warrick Dunn to throw out first pitch for Rays' Chop at the Trop game

Former Florida State and Bucs star running back Warrick Dunn will throw out the ceremonial first pitch on June 18 for the Rays' Chop at the Trop game.

Dunn was a three-time All-ACC talent and helped the Seminoles win their first national title in 1993. His 3,959 rushing yards are still the most in program history.

The Bucs drafted Dunn with the No. 12 overall pick in 1997. He made two Pro Bowls with the Bucs and spent six of his 12 NFL seasons with Tampa Bay.

Dunn's first pitch comes before the Rays host San Francisco at 4:10.

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Florida Gators-FSU baseball super regional schedule announced

The NCAA announced ths schedule for this weekend's super regional baseball games. Florida will host rival Florida State at 6 p.m. Saturday and again at 6 p.m. Sunday. The third game would be Monday, but a time has not yet been set. 

The first game will be shown on ESPN2, and the second will air on either ESPN2 or ESPNU. Ticket information is available here. 

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