Foley facing transition with Gators

The Florida athletic department is in a difficult position, forced to replace multiple successful coaches.

It started two weeks ago when gymnastics coach Rhonda Faehn resigned after leading the Florida program to its third straight national title. After 13 seasons as the leader of Florida gymnastics, Faehn was named the vice president of USA Gymnastics.

Last week, it was the news of Billy Donovan chasing his NBA dream to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Donovan spent 19 seasons in Gainesville and changed the culture of Florida basketball.

Two coaches are gone that won a total of five national championships during their time in Gainesville. Add in replacing football coach Will Muschamp, and there will be a lot of different faces running athletic programs in Gainesville when the new athletic season begins in the fall.

“Anytime a coach leaves there is a transition,” Jeremy Foley said. “I think it's inherent with the business. Certainly Will was the difficult decision because of the circumstances there and the way we felt about him. Rhonda did something that after three national championships, she wanted to chase another dream. Billy is chasing a dream.

“It's not like you're having a huge transition because a bunch of bad people aren't doing their job or doing their job the wrong way. It's part of what we're doing. If you can wave a wand, they're still here and things are perfect, and we're all winning and we're undefeated. That's not the way our world works.”

The good news for Foley is both jobs will be highly coveted. The gymnastics program has plenty of talent left on the roster for whoever gets the job, and it’s a program that should be able to stay among the elite in the country. Basketball is more of a rebuild between the two programs, but Donovan has proven what the program can become.

Both jobs are better off and more attractive than they were before Donovan and Faehn came to Gainesville. Their production will allow Foley to hire qualified candidates that should continue the success within each program.

“I think it shows what this place can accomplish if you hire the right people,” Foley said. “That's the challenge for the next search here. We need to hire a person that can achieve at the highest level.”


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