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Florida Gators soccer coach fired due to ‘disconnect’ with players

WUFT reported that Tony Amato made comments about players’ weights and diets, which led one athlete to consider suicide.
Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates.
Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. [ Photo illustration by ASHLEY DYE and LUIS SANTANA | Times ] ]
Published Apr. 27

The Florida Gators fired women’s soccer coach Tony Amato on Wednesday because of a “disconnect between Tony and his athletes,” athletic director Scott Stricklin said in a statement.

One player said issues with Amato led her to contemplate suicide, WUFT News in Gainesville reported.

In the statement, Stricklin said he became aware of “challenges with relationship-building and communication” last fall and worked with Amato on them.

“As the issues continued to be brought to my attention, it became apparent that sufficient progress was not being made and Tony was not a fit for the University of Florida,” Stricklin said.

Those issues, according to a report from WUFT’s Payton Titus, included players saying that he made comments about their diet and bodies. When players complained about not having enough food during a trip to Fort Myers, he told others that it might have been a staffer’s way to encourage them to lose weight. Amato also wouldn’t play athletes who ate ice cream the night before a game, made a disgruntled face over a box of Pop-Tarts and asked players their weights before charter flights, according to WUFT.

One player told WUFT that she developed an eating disorder during the fall season and that her coach’s comments about food “got to me.” Another told the site she gained 10 pounds and drank excessively while playing under Amato.

“He made me want to kill myself,” the player told WUFT. “I wanted to die because of the way this man ran this program.”

The Gators went 4-12-4 in Amato’s lone season.

Amato’s departure comes nine months after women’s basketball coach Cameron Newbauer resigned amidst allegations of abuse.

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