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About The Florida Gators

About The Gators
The Florida Gators is the team name used for all of the intercollegiate athletic teams that play for the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. There are 8 men's athletic teams and 11 women's teams that compete in the Eastern Division of the Southeastern Conference in Division I-A, and have combined to win the Southeastern Conference All-Sports Trophy every year since its inception. The Gators have also been in the top 10 of the National All Sports rankings every year for the past two decades.

Traditional rivals in most sports include in-state Florida State University and the University of Miami, as well as conference rivals Georgia and Tennessee.
The athletic department is run by the University Athletic Association, a private organization. The department dedicates about $73 million per year to its sports teams and facilities. Since 1992, the athletic director of the Gators has been Jeremy Foley. All athletic teams have on-campus facilities for competition, including Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field for football, the Stephen C.

Razor Gator, University of Florida Gators
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University Of Florida's Gator Head Logo

Logo of the University
Athletic Association, Inc.

O'Connell Center for men’s and women’s basketball as well as women's volleyball and gymnastics, and McKethan Stadium for baseball.

Tailgating for the Gators is a major pastime and is followed on websites that have drawn thousands of fans.

The football team is traditionally the most popular sport at the university, where even the spring practice Orange and Blue Game has drawn crowds in excess of 50,000.

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium,
University Of Florida

Florida plays an eight-game conference schedule, headlined by annual SEC Eastern division showdowns against Tennessee and Georgia, the latter being held in Jacksonville, Florida every year and dubbed "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party." The permanent SEC West team the Gators face every season is LSU. In addition, the team has a yearly out-of-conference meeting with Florida State at the end of the season.

The football team has been one of the winningest in Division 1-A since 1990, the year Steve Spurrier returned to his alma mater as coach. The 1996 team, led by another Heisman winner, Danny Wuerffel, went 12-1 and won the national championship game in the Sugar Bowl, avenging an earlier loss to rival Florida State.

Following the 2001 season, Spurrier left the program to try his hand at coaching in the National Football League. Ron Zook, at one time the defensive coordinator under Spurrier, was hired as his replacement. Zook's squads were known for their inconsistency, and he was fired midway through the 2004 season.

Urban Meyer,
Head Football Coach,
Florida Gators

Urban Meyer was announced as Florida Football's new head coach in December 2004. His first season in 2005 was a respectable 9-3, including a bowl win against the Iowa Hawkeyes, but the team missed out on a chance to play in the SEC title game after a devastating loss to Spurrier's new team, South Carolina, though the team managed to sweep its three biggest rivals (Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida State) for just the fourth time in school history.

The Gators had arguably the best recruiting class in the nation in 2006, signing such players as All-American dual-threat quarterback Tim Tebow and overall #1 HS recruit, wide receiver Percy Harvin. Other five star recruits included offensive lineman Carl Johnson, linebacker Brandon Spikes, wide receiver Jarred Fayson, and safety Jamar Hornsby.

Florida had limited success prior to the mid-1990s. However, under the tenure of Norm Sloan, Vernon Maxwell led the team to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet Sixteen in 1987, and Sloan coached the team to the tournament again the following two years. After a drug scandal involving Maxwell, Sloan left and the program went on probation.

Billy Donovan,
Men's Basketball Coach,
University Of Florida

Don DeVoe coached the team for the 1989-90 season, after which Lon Kruger was hired. While never known as a great recruiter, Kruger slowly brought the team to increased success and reached the NIT final four in his second year as coach. In 1993-94, however, the pieces fell into place for Florida. Behind Andrew DeClercq and Dametri Hill, the Gators went to their first Final Four following a dramatic victory over UConn where Donyell Marshall missed two free throws with no time on the clock to force overtime, where the Gators eventually prevailed. They lost to Duke in the national semifinal, 70-65. The next year, they returned to the NCAA tournament, but were eliminated in the first round. Kruger's final season in 1995-96 resulted in a losing record, and he left to coach at Illinois.

Jeremy Foley, looking for a young coach with a proven track record, hired Billy Donovan, then at Marshall, as Kruger's replacement. His recruiting prowess was evident early, bringing future NBA star Jason Williams with him from Marshall and having early recruiting classes with future NBA players Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem, and Matt Bonner, among others. The Gators have made the NCAA Tournament every year since Donovan's third season with the team, a seven-year streak that is easily the school record. Although Donovan is young (40) compared to many coaches, he is the longest tenured men's basketball coach in the SEC.

Florida's women’s team has been coached by Carolyn Peck, a former WNBA coach who won a national title with Purdue, since the 2002-03 season. Her brother, Michael, has been an assistant on the staff since 2001.

While traditionally being overshadowed by divisional (and national) basketball powers Tennessee and Georgia, the Lady Gators have made several NCAA Tournament appearances and sent players to the WNBA, such as Delisha Milton-Jones. The winningest coach at Florida was Peck's predecessor, Carol Ross, who guided the team for 12 seasons but now coaches at her alma mater, Ole Miss.

With a senior-ladden team, the Lady Gators started the 2005-06 season unranked and gradually worked their way into the Top 25, finishing the season at 21-9 overall and 8-6 in conference play. They lost in the first round of the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Tournament to New Mexico.

Baseball is coached by Pat McMahon, who joined in 2001 after coaching at Mississippi State.

The 2005 season was the best in school history, as the team won the SEC title and made the College World Series for the first time in seven years, and advanced all the way to the championship round against Texas, but ultimately lost two games to none. The baseball team has made the Series five times in total.

The expectations for the team were high for 2006; they opened the season as the #1 team in the polls. The team struggled through the 2006 season, however. The Gators found themselves 1 game under .500 (26-27) heading into their final series, against LSU in Gainesville. UF surprisingly took 2 of 3 to finish right at .500, 28-28. However, the team's 10-20 SEC record was the second worst in the conference (only Auburn's 9-21 campaign was worse), and they didn't qualify for the SEC Tournament. There was very slight hope that the team might be selected for the NCAA Regionals, but in the end their disappointing performance did not get them a bid.

Becky Burleigh has been the coach since the team first began play in 1996. The team quickly became a contender and, in 1998, won the national title in its third year of existence against the storied North Carolina program. A player from that team, Heather Mitts has enjoyed a career on and off the field, including a spot on the United States Women's National Soccer Team.

Another former player, Abby Wambach, has become a recent star on the U.S. team and scored the game-winning goal in the final game of the 2004 Olympic Games.

Florida began competing in Volleyball in 1984 under the lead of Marilyn McReavy but didn’t achieve true success until Mary Wise took over the program in 1991.

In her 15 years at Florida, Wise has compiled a 492-51 (0.906) record, won 15 consecutive SEC regular season titles (1991-2005), 12 SEC Tournament titles (1992-96, 1998-03, 2000) and the Gators have made 15 consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament, including 7 final four appearances and a trip to the National Championship game in 2003.

The 2005 season brought with it a 33-3 overall record and a trip to the Elite Eight where Florida lost to top seeded Nebraska.

Women's Tennis
Florida has one of the strongest and most storied women's tennis programs in NCAA history, producing such former greats as Lisa Raymond and Jill Craybas. Currently, they are second to only Stanford with 4 NCAA Championships.

Gymnastics was one of the first women's sports added at the University of Florida and achieved early success winning the 1982 AIAW Championship. Since the NCAA took over the championships in 1982, Florida has advanced to the National Championships (Top 12) 15 times and an additional 10 times, has advanced to the Super Six. Florida's highest finish in NCAA competition was as runner-up in 1998.

Currently, the Gators are coached by Rhonda Faehn and finished 4th at the 2006 NCAA Championships.

The Gators are looking forward to next year, and have signed a national champion, and highly-recruited Amanda Castillo, and plan on winning the NCAA Championship for the first time in their history.

In early 2006, the UF Athletic Association announced they would soon begin play in women's lacrosse, due to the growth of the sport and increased availability of competition. They became the second SEC school to offer lacrosse as a varsity sport, following Vanderbilt. They will begin play in 2010.


Mascots, Cheers, and Spirit Program
Costumed in plush to look like American Alligators, the official mascots of the Florida Gators are Albert and Alberta.

Official Mascots of the University Of Florida, Albert and Alberta

Albert and Alberta,
University Of Florida
Official Mascots

A short video showing alligators moving in on their prey, with the famous Jaws theme playing in the background, is displayed on the Daktronics ProStar Video Board, commonly known as a jumbotron during every football game before the players come out of the tunnel. ESPN's College Gameday analyst Lee Corso, a graduate and former coach at rival school Florida State, called it one of the best moments in college football.

The marching band that performs at halftime and after big plays during the football season is known as The Pride of the Sunshine.

source: wikipedia.org


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