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Matt Baker, Times Staff Writer

Matt Baker

Matt Baker joined the Times as a sports reporter in 2011. In 2014, he started covering the Bucs, Rays and Lightning. He previously covered high school and college sports for the Tulsa World and minor league baseball for the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader. His work has been honored by the Best American Sports Writing series and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is a Hoosier native and graduated from Northwestern University in 2008.

Phone: (727) 420-9087


Twitter: @MBakerTBTimes

  1. Florida Gators announce eight-person committee to find new AD


    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 Florida Gators are looking for a new athletic director to replace Jeremy Foley, who is retiring on Oct. 1.
  2. 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....

  3. 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:...

  4. Foley retiring as Florida AD having created culture of togetherness


    GAINESVILLE — Billy Donovan hadn't been at Florida too long when he needed a favor.

    Donovan had a big recruit (Mike Miller) on campus, and he needed to wow him. So Donovan called Steve Spurrier and asked him to meet with Miller — two hours before kickoff against Tennessee.

    Spurrier obliged.

    "I realized that's what it's about — it's about everybody pulling together, helping each other …" Donovan, now the head coach of the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder, said Tuesday. "That is totally Jeremy Foley."...

    As Florida athletic director, Jeremy Foley created a culture of all for one, one for all.
  5. Jeremy Foley: 'I don't want a clean break from the Gators. Ever.'


    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."...

    Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley addresses reporters at his retirement news conference Tuesday.
  6. Billy Donovan on Jeremy Foley: 'He changed my life'


    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....

    Billy Donovan and Jeremy Foley celebrate the Florida Gators' trip to the 2007 Final Four.
  7. Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley announces retirement


    After Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley announced his retirement Monday, accolades poured in from across the college sports world.

    SEC commissioner Greg Sankey praised his passion and integrity. Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity called him a visionary and a giant in the industry. Gators legend Steve Spurrier dubbed him the best athletic director in UF history.

    "I've worked with a lot of people," former UF president Bernie Machen said, "and I've never worked with anybody who was better at their job than Jeremy."...

    Jeremy Foley
  8. 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....

  9. Florida Gators AD Jeremy Foley retiring


    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."...

    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.
  10. 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....

  11. Berkeley Prep alum Nelson Agholor accused of rape, report says


    Former Berkeley Prep star Nelson Agholor has been accused of rape, according to a report by Philadelphia magazine.

    An exotic dancer at Cheerleaders Gentlemen's Club told police that the Eagles receiver raped her Thursday afternoon, according to the magazine. At least two other teammates were at the club, and police are seeking video footage.

    Agholor has not been arrested or charged with a crime. Read the magazine's full report here. ...

    Nelson Agholor (seen here playing for Berkeley Prep in 2011) is the subject of a rape investigation, according to a report.
  12. Florida Gators rename field to honor Steve Spurrier


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

    The official name will be Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium after the board of trustees approved the change Thursday. Spurrier will be honored before the Gators' Sept. 3 opener in Gainesville against UMass.

    "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."...

    Steve Spurrier won UF’s first Heisman as player and first national title as coach.
  13. 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....

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


    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....

    Steve Spurrier, 71, is the winningest coach in UF history.
  15. 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....