GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) – Steve Spurrier already has a statue outside of the football stadium and the field named after him. Next he’ll serve as ambassador and consultant for the school’s entire athletic department.
Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley made the announcement on Friday.
“It’s a great day for the Gator Nation to be able to welcome Coach Spurrier back home,” Foley said in a statement. “He has served as a tremendous ambassador to the university and the athletic department for 50-plus years, and it’s only fitting that at this point in his career he is back in Gainesville. Being a Gator has always meant so much to Coach Spurrier, but it means just as much to us have him come home.”
Spurrier stepped down as South Carolina’s football coach last season, but stopped short of saying he planned to retire. He has a home in Crescent Beach, about an hour’s drive from Gainesville.
“My wife, Jerri, and I are extremely thrilled to be returning home to our alma mater, and to Gainesville where we met on campus over 50 years ago,” Spurrier said in a statement.
It’s unclear what his exact role will be at Florida, but Spurrier is likely to offer some insight on a conference call scheduled for Friday afternoon.
The Gators already renamed their football field after Spurrier, calling it Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Now, he might just be at every home game.
Spurrier is the program’s first Heisman Trophy winner (1966) and the coach who led the Gators to their first national championship (1996). He already has a Heisman statue outside the stadium and is a member of the program’s exclusive ring of honor.
Spurrier also nicknamed the stadium “The Swamp.” The Gators went 122-27-1 in 12 seasons under Spurrier, including 68-5 at home and won six Southeastern Conference titles.
Florida will honor Spurrier at the 2016 season opener against Massachusetts during a ceremony that will include the unveiling of his name on the stadium.
He’s likely to be in town long before that and possibly on a regular basis.
“I look forward to visiting with him on a lot of occasions and picking his brain on a number of issues,” Florida coach Jim McElwain. “It’s a credit to Jeremy to get him back home where he belongs. More than anything, I look forward to actually talking to him and being around him rather than just saying hello to his statue on my way to work every day.”