Published March 24, 2011 - 6:48am
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Tonight, the Florida Gators Men’s Basketball team takes on BYU in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. For Florida fans, it’s nice to have the basketball team relevant again on the national scene after the amazing back-to-back championships followed up with a few down years (very normal in college basketball by the way).
For all fans of college athletics, it’s a reminder just how dominant the Florida athletics program has been over the last decade plus especially with regards to the main two sports: football and men’s basketball.
Since 1994, Florida has been to 4 Final Fours, with two national championships (2006, 2007) and one runner-up (2000). In that time span, Florida has made the NCAA tournament 13 times. Florida has a good chance to make it to another Final Four in 2011 – tonight represents the next step towards that goal.
Billy Donovan has done a masterful job turning Florida into a great basketball program that has been competitive on a regular basis and that has produced significant NBA talent. Interestingly, 2011 marks the first time Donovan was named the SEC coach of the year.
In a similar time span, since 1994, the Florida Gators football team has won the SEC six times (1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2006, 2008) and the national championship three times (1996, 2006, 2008) under coaches Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer.
So who is responsible for this amazing success? One man who is at least partially responsible is Athletic Director Jeremy Foley. Foley has been the AD since 1992 at Florida and was responsible for hiring both Billy Donovan and Urban Meyer.
Since 1992 when Foley took over, Florida has been named the top overall sports program every single year in the SEC except one year. A remarkable number.
Not surprisingly, in 2007, Foley was given a contract that made him the highest paid AD in the country where he can earn up to $1.2 million annually with bonuses.
Foley serves as the Chief Financial Officer for the University Athletic Association and has overseen $180 million in capital expenditures including expansion to the football stadium. He oversees an annual budget of more than $89 million.
Foley is also very proud of the graduation rate for student-athletes at University of Florida is 92% which is significantly higher than the national average.
Jeremy Foley is a major asset to the University of Florida and is absolutely a major factor in building the Florida Gators into one of the top – if not the top – sports program in the country.
Which programs would you say rival Florida in terms of all sports success? Texas is the first one that comes to mind.