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New USF AD Michael Kelly on football center, conference realignment and new stadium

The Bulls introduced their new athletic director Friday afternoon. Here's what he said about the biggest issues at USF.
The University of South Florida introduces their new athletic director Michael Kelly during a press conference at the Sun Dome. [ BRONTE WITTPENN   |   Times ]
The University of South Florida introduces their new athletic director Michael Kelly during a press conference at the Sun Dome. [ BRONTE WITTPENN | Times ]
Published Jun. 29, 2018
Updated Jun. 29, 2018

TAMPA — USF formally introduced Michael Kelly as its new vice president of athletics Friday afternoon at what's still technically called the Sun Dome.

Some highlights from his news conference:

  • Kelly’s first few priorities include learning the landscape of the program and figuring out how to engage with the community, including fans and boosters.

"It really doesn't matter what level," Kelly said. "If you want to name our USF football center we're going to build as fast as possible, we've got a place for you."

Speaking of which…

  • Kelly is “very optimistic” that ground breaking on that project could happen in the next year or so.

"We've got to get this USF football center built," Kelly said. "That's what's going to build not only our football program, but all our departments can benefit from that. And that's what's going to make our football program stronger and more sustainable."

RELATED: Michael Kelly hired as USF athletic director

  • The other obvious football question is about the prospects of an on-campus stadium. Kelly said he called coach Charlie Strong after his hire and that their opinions are aligned. Kelly wants to continue to explore the possibility of an on-campus stadium, but he wants to learn more (and focus on the football center first).
  • Getting USF into a Power Five league was an obvious priority for the Bulls, and Kelly has the connections that could help make that happen, if/when conference realignment kicks up again in the next 5-10 years. The first priority, Kelly said, is to make sure the athletic department is winning.

"Frankly right now, we want to make sure what we focus on is being the very best we can be," Kelly said. "We're in a great league right now. How do we dominate that league to the best of our ability? That's got to be the goal right now. When we do that, when we build the tradition one champion at a time as I spoke of before, we'll be the best positioned school of anyone in the country, if anything else ever happens (in realignment). That's our goal."

We'll have more on Kelly's first news conference later.