Saturday, January 20, 2018
Colleges

Florida Gators assistant Joker Phillips resigns

GAINESVILLE — Florida wide receivers coach Joker Phillips resigned Wednesday, leaving the Gators without a veteran staffer in a key position just two months before the start of fall camp.

Former UF quarterback and current graduate assistant Chris Leak will assume the position for this season, coach Will Muschamp said.

Phillips' departure was a surprise. As late as Monday, he was active on Twitter with his "Come Play for the Joker" campaign, and he attended UF's football camp this week. With his departure, the Gators will have had four receivers coaches during Muschamp's four-year tenure as coach — six since 2009.

"I'm thankful for the opportunity that the University of Florida and Will Muschamp provided to me and my family, but at this time, I have decided to step down from my position … for personal reasons," Phillips said in a statement.

He could not be reached for comment.

A 26-year coaching veteran, Phillips, 51, joined the staff in December 2012 after he was fired as head coach at Kentucky after three seasons. He was hired by the Gators to bring experience and stability to a unit that has struggled the past several years.

"I appreciate Joker's contributions to our program and wish him and his wife, Leslie, nothing but the best in the future," Muschamp said.

Leak has one season of coaching experience as a graduate assistant. He is respected by Gator fans for leading UF to the 2006 national title and is the school's all-time leading passer in yards (11,213), completions (895) and attempts (1,458).

"I appreciate the opportunity that Coach Muschamp has given me and my family," Leak said. "It's an honor to be coaching at my alma mater where I have so many fond memories both on and off the field. We have a tremendous coaching staff, a great group of players and a support system in place, and I'm excited to be a part of it."

Hey, Gators, Dawgs: No pool for you

JACKSONVILLE — The Florida-Georgia football game won't be a pool party.

A day after the NFL's Jaguars said it would be up to the athletic directors of the two schools to decide whether to use the stadium's new pools and cabanas during their annual game, the SEC rivals made it clear they have no plans to integrate the two-story party deck.

The Gators and Bulldogs are more concerned that there still will be 7,000 seats available in the renovated north end zone at EverBank Field.

"There's no wiggle room for lowering the attendance or seating capacity," Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said. "The most important thing for us is the number of seats."

"We don't have an interest in any scenario that reduces the number of tickets," Florida's Jeremy Foley said.

The Jaguars removed 9,500 chair-backs as part of a $63 million renovation, which includes the world's largest video boards, two wading pools, 20 pricey cabanas and several other amenities designed to improve the game-day experience.

While Florida and Georgia welcome the giant scoreboards, they would prefer to keep everything else status quo. Especially the seating capacity, which stands at nearly 85,000.

If the schools used the pools and cabanas, they would lose 7,000 seats that already have been sold. They would get a portion of those spots back in pool-side seating, but not enough for the ADs to consider change.

Indiana: Redshirt junior Tre Roberson, the first true freshman to start at quarterback for the Hoosiers and expected to be this year's starter, said he is transferring. Neither Roberson nor coach Kevin Wilson provided a reason for the decision. He's the second QB with starting experience to leave the program in less than six months. Cam Coffman left in January.

LSU: Junior defensive back Jalen Mills, a two-year starter, has been suspended from the team after being charged with second-degree battery. He is accused of punching a woman in the mouth in May, according to the Baton Rouge police's probable cause report cited by CBS affiliate WAFB.

Basketball: Guard Antoine Mason, who averaged 25.6 points last season and is the nation's top returning scorer, is transferring from Niagara to Auburn and new coach Bruce Pearl. Mason will be eligible to play this season due to the NCAA's transfer rule, which allows players who have graduated and have eligibility remaining to play immediately. Mason is the son of former Knicks forward Anthony Mason and brother of former St. John's star Anthony Mason Jr. … West Virginia guard Eron Harris, who averaged 17.2 points last season as a sophomore, is transferring to Michigan State. … Igor Ibaka, younger brother of the NBA Thunder's Serge Ibaka, will play for Oklahoma State. Dustin Grover, Igor's coach at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, said Igor plans to get his associate's degree within the next year, then enroll at Oklahoma State to play during the 2015-16 season.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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