After almost 25 years as Florida’s athletic director, Jeremy Foley’s final day has come. The 63-year-old is stepping down from his post. A full story on Foley can be found here, but there are more memories from those he worked with that didn't make it into the piece. Below is a look at some additional memories from former and current UF athletes, coaches and administration about Foley.
Becky Burleigh, UF soccer coach, 1995-present
“He just gave us everything we needed to be successful early. I can particularly remember back in that time frame, we were one of the leading schools by far in terms of the way we were funding programs, the way we were handling even a startup. We had a whole year before we started, which is somewhat commonplace now, but back then that was kind of unheard of. It wasn’t like he was taking a club team and turning it into a varsity program. He really wanted to be successful right from the very start. I’ll always appreciate the faith he had in me and I’ll always appreciate the resources that he provided us and the leadership not even thinking for a minute that we couldn’t be competitive right from the beginning.”
Rhonda Faehn, former UF gymnastics coach and current senior vice president at USA Gymnastics
“What first struck me was just his enthusiasm and his passion for the University of Florida and his commitment to just every single student athlete. I felt it. And I was so pumped and so excited that I was ready to step in right there. ‘Anything you want, I’m ready to go.’ After just that 48 hours, I was excited and was offered the job and never regretted one day. It was absolutely an incredible experience working for Jeremy Foley. He was just a class act.”
“There were so many amazing moment, just so many little ones. I remember my first couple of years, he was always giving positive encouragement and support because in the beginning, it wasn’t easy. It was a building process. No matter what, he would be flying out for a flight at like 5 in the morning and he would call to say ‘Hey, I’m sorry I’m not going to be at the meet this weekend. I’m at a meeting.” But yet he was very dedicated to making sure that I felt supported, that the team felt supported and he was at every competition that he could be at right there at that table. After one of the meets, he said ‘When are one of your athletes going to have Aerosmith for floor music?' It was just awesome. You could see that he was passionate and excited. The little things stuck with me more than any one thing. What was incredible was that he never ever failed to tell me how proud he was or how thankful he was for just the dedication of the athletes and the coaching staff. You could tell he was always just appreciative.”
Kent Fuchs, UF President
“It's not that Jeremy set the bar. The bar's above Jeremy in terms of what we have to do in fundraising, what we have to do in just making sure we're supporting our students. It's just the bar keep getting up a little higher because we want to be ahead of everyone and not just where we were over the past 25 years."
Gabby Mallette, former UF volleyball player, 2012-2015
“I think that Jeremy Foley had a huge part in volleyball. He didn’t just help with the sports that are the major ones on campus -- football, baseball, basketball. There are so many times in my four years that Jeremy would just walk into the Lemerand during our practice just to say hi to Mary and see what we were up to. I think when you’re a part of such a big program, you don’t expect that, especially from Jeremy Foley who is the best athletic director in the country.”
Aubree Munro, former UF softball player, 2013-2016
"Jeremy Foley set the bar for Florida Athletics. He stressed the championship experience with integrity, and that’s exactly what I experienced while at UF. My favorite thing about Jeremy Foley is that he always asks how I’m doing. He would remember my name and then ask me how I was doing. He was the AD at a top school and he would always stop and say hello, ask me how things were going and always showed support for me and my team. Softball, while we were successful in my four years, isn’t considered a revenue sport, so I imagine it would be easy for some athletic directors to not take a lot of pride in those sports. Mr. Foley never missed a regional, super regional, or world series appearance. He was there on the field with us to celebrate all of those wins with us. He offered hugs and high fives when we won back to back championships. And now that I’m done playing he still says hi and asks me how I’m doing when our paths cross in the weight room. I came to Florida to win, but what I didn’t realize was that I would become the person I had always wanted to be by coming to this special place. I have Jeremy Foley to thank for that because he brought in the coaches that made our program what it was and he created a culture of success on and off the field. He set the bar of excellence not only at Florida but for athletic departments across the country. And he did it while being personable to his athletes and making them all feel valued."
Amanda O’Leary, UF Lacrosse coach, 2010-present
“Without him, we wouldn’t be here. It’s just his commitment to our program from Day 1. When we started, we didn’t have a facility. He was instrumental in the recruiting process and the building of the facility and just keeping it moving forward. I owe him everything. I just owe him everything. He was just really straightforward. He said we're going to build you a facility that's going to be worthy of your student-athletes. He said it's not going to be the Taj Mahal of lacrosse facilities even though it ended up being the Taj Mahal of lacrosse facilities, so he was actually wrong there. He did provide for us and said the support was going to be there financially. And just from Day 1, it's all come to fruition. He has ultimately provided not only our student-athletes but our staff with every possible opportunity to succeed. That's all you really ask for."
Scott Stricklin, incoming UF athletics director
“Much of the success that has happened here is credited to great athletes, great coaches, great staff, but certainly there's one person the last quarter century who's driven that boat, and that's Jeremy, my good friend. Jeremy, arguably -- and it may not be much of an argument -- is the best athletic director in the history of the SEC. And I firmly believe that. And there's been some really good ones. But Jeremy has set a standard. Last several years I've gotten to know him as a colleague and then as a friend, and he's always been there with a word of advice. Sometimes it was wanted, sometimes not. But he's been a great confidant. I can't imagine how special it is to walk into an opportunity like this and have a guy like Jeremy available to seek as a resource.”
Tim Tebow, Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback at UF, current SEC Network analyst
“I just remember most about Jeremy was just how genuine he is and he’s never someone that was big time. He was never someone who was too busy. He was just someone that was always genuine, that was there for all the students and he was always there for all of us athletes. I really appreciated that about him.”
Mary Wise, UF volleyball coach
“It would be hard to put into words because with Gator Nation, he is the rock to it. He’s been such a wonderful mentor as a coach and giving his advice and his take on something when I ask for it. He’s a wonderful fan. He’s a great supporter. And he’s a really, really good friend.”
“I just can’t thank him enough for his tutelage, the leadership he’s provided at the council and leading from the top. There’s a reason why people stay and it all starts with him and the culture he’s created here.”