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Florida Football

ITG Feature: Stricklin Outlines the Gators Fiscal and Physical Feature

March 5, 2019
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FLORIDA FOOTBALL & RECRUITING COVERAGE
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The old adage goes you have to spend money to make money. In the arms race that is college athletics this is especially true. Sitting at the helm of one of the country’s largest programs, Scott Stricklin is looking to guide the University of Florida’s athletic department through a series of upgrades and improvements that he foresees as the next step in the Gators future.

“It’s important for people to understand not just what we’re trying to do but how we’re trying to do and why we’re on the timeline we’re currently on,” Stricklin tells Inside the Gators.

That infrastructure timeline is made up of benchmarks that are like a Gators initiative. Each step leads to the next and while it may seem out of order to some, there is a long-term plan in place. Now that the Katie Seashole Pressly Softball stadium renovation has been completed, the ground has been broken on a new adjacent baseball stadium. Once that’s finished, the current McKethan stadium will be demolished to make way for a new football facility.

University of Florida Sports Information
Aeriel view of future baseball stadium.

“I think the timeline, the sequencing we’re doing—especially building the new ballpark, open up the land where McKethan currently is to do the football training center—is an 80 year decision for the university and for our athletic program. We have could have gone a different direction and gotten the football training center done sooner but that might have been a 10 or 15 year decision. We wanna do something that’s really gonna be generational in it’s impact.”

The A.D. says a few loose ends are being tied up before renderings are released but the plan is still to renovate the football locker rooms in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium this offseason.

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Of course this takes the aforementioned funds. In their latest release in the summer of 2018, USA Today ranked Florida as the 8th most profitable athletic department in the country, taking into account the 2016-2017 athletic year during which UF brought in $149,165,475 in total revenue. There was a common perception—whether deserved or undeserved—that the previous regime under Jeremy Foley wasn’t willing to open up the checkbook. Stricklin says that wasn’t the case.

“I would say this, when I walked in the door, Florida was completing about $100 million dollar worth of facility renovations and new construction between the [Stephen C. O’Connell Center] O-Dome and the indoor football facility and the Hawkins facility so I know that’s not a fair thing that’s said.

“And Jeremy also, people don’t see this as much, but he invested in people at a high, high level and you see the benefit’s with all the national championships across all the different sports and those are coaches he’s invested in those careers emotionally but also financially. So I understand the perception, I don’t think it’s a fair perception.”

Now that many of those plans are picking up steam it’s up to Stricklin to see them through. As is common with the ebb and flow of fiscal year’s, there’s currently a bit of a lull that is making things admittedly tight. It will make the next couple of years interesting but Stricklin is confident the projects will come to fruition.

University of Florida Sports Information
Aeriel view of future football facility amongst existing buildings. 

“We’ve got to continually take the resources we have and figure out a way to reinvest them back in the program…budgets are tight everywhere in college athletics. We had this period of rapid growth in the last eight, nine years and that has kinda plateaued and the challenges are, we’ve kinda spent to that and so now going forward we’re really gonna be relying on donations and gifts until the next new revenue stream or new TV contract comes on line…we’re several years away from any of that…we’re at a, we have a lot of grand ideas right now, we’ve gotta be really creative and really aggressive in how we fund those ideas.”

University of Florida Sports Information
Mezzanine level view of new baseball stadium.

With the ball already rolling on the baseball stadium and the new football facility with an end date in sight for the stadium locker rooms, the landscape of Florida’s campus could change drastically in the next two years. But that’s just the beginning. There are football stadium upgrades on the agenda and the arms race that will continually ask for more. Yet whatever comes on the horizon, Scott Stricklin remains sure the Florida Gators will be set thanks to the combined efforts of everyone that makes up the Gators base.

University of Florida Sports Information
Front of new football facility. 

“One of the things that I have found is really important is you’ve got to cast a vision for where you want to go and if you do that and get people excited about that vision, you have a good chance of people helping you figure out how to get it accomplished and so that’s kinda where we are right now with the football training center for instance. We’ve got to, in the next 18 months, we’ve got to raise a lot of money for that but we’re having a lot of conversations and Gator Boosters staff is out there having a lot of conversations and trying to make sure people see the need. We’re going to get it done, I’m convinced of that, but you’ve got to cast the vision.”

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Part I - Scott Stricklin living out his dream with the Gators

Part II -  Stricklin's Commitment to Fan Involvement

Part III - Stricklin Outlines the Gators Fiscal and Physical Feature

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ITG Feature: Stricklin Outlines the Gators Fiscal and Physical Feature

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