Jeremy Foley has been Florida’s athletics director for nearly a quarter of a century. He’s developed into one of America’s finest at building a spectacular all-around program.
The Gators are a winning machine under his watch, with 26 national titles in his 24 years as athletics director. But there’s one thing Foley says he has only really learned fairly recently. That’s getting more people involved when he goes to hire a coach.
“The one thing we’ve tried to do, the one thing I’ve tried to do here recently, maybe in the last 10 years, is to get more people on my staff included,” Foley said on the Finebaum Show last week.
That’s not to say Foley wasn’t wildly successful with some of his early hires.
“When I first became athletic director, the first guy I hired was Billy Donovan,” Foley said. “So I thought I had it all figured it out. You hit a home run in your first at-bat in the majors, so to speak.
“Then kept doing just OK. I didn’t have enough people I was listening to. I wasn’t getting enough feedback. We didn’t have enough collective effort. So we started getting more people in the room, we started doing a better job.”
Add Urban Meyer, Tim Walton, Rhonda Faehn, Gregg Troy, Mike Holloway, Roland Thornqvist and Becky Burleigh to the list of coaches Foley has hired who went on to win national championships.
More importantly, most of those hires helped cultivate the kind of environment that has made Florida one of the the most well-respected athletic departments in the country. There’s a mutual respect and admiration — as well as a sharing of ideas — that makes Florida’s coaching community more family than work partnership.
“We are looking for a fit. There’s a certain type of individual that can fit on this campus, fit in this community, understand the value of all of our sports programs,” Foley said. “So there is a fit part of it, but more than anything else, getting more people involved has help us do a better job. We’re not a group that looks outside to have help. I look inside to try to get a group of people together to help us find the right person.”
Most would agree Foley has done that more often than not, even though there have been some bumps along the road.