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Jeremy Foley

Jeremy Foley, the athletic director at Florida, remembers his time at OU fondly

Arguably the most successful athletic director in the nation got his start at Ohio University.

The man who is arguably the most successful athletic director in the nation couldn’t believe how long the lines were at the bars when he attended Ohio University in the mid-70s.

Coming from small-town London, New Hampshire, Jeremy Foley, the athletic director at the University of Florida since 1992, had never waited in line for a bar until he made his way to Court Street.

But for Foley, the only athletic director in NCAA Division I history to preside over a program that won multiple national titles in men’s basketball and football, his experience in the Master’s of Education in Sports Management program at OU provided him much more than just fun times at local bars.

And upon his graduation in 1976, he landed an internship with Florida’s athletic department, a program he has worked within ever since.

“I don’t think I’m sitting where I am today without going to OU,” he said.

He worked at various events for the university, such as a surprise Bruce Springsteen concert at the Templeton Blackburn Memorial Auditorium in 1976.

“He was my favorite,” Foley said. “Not sure how great the security was because I was the one watching the stage the whole time.”

Foley also helped out with a fundraising boxing tournament put on by the sports administration program.

“It was crazy,” he said. “People just going in and fighting; it was wild. I don’t think they do that anymore.”

One of Foley’s less-fond memories was watching the 1975 World Series as the lone supporter of his beloved Boston Red Sox as they played against and lost to the Cincinnati Reds. Naturally, he had to endure the suffering among hundreds of Reds fans Uptown.

But those moments were few and far between. Foley said he was able to get golf tickets for the very first Memorial Tournament in Dublin, as well as tour professional sports facilities in Cincinnati, thanks to OU’s sports administration program.

“Things that a guy from a small town in New Hampshire never got to do,” he said. “It gave me a sense of what the industry was like. Never thought I’d be the (athletic director) at Florida, but (I) knew I wanted to do sports and OU gave me the opportunity to do that.”

Those opportunities didn’t exist when he was pursuing his undergraduate degree at Hobart College in Geneva, New York, he added.

“Best thing about (going to) OU was, and still is, the reputation it has in sports management,” he said. “Because of its reputation, it opened doors for me.”

Foley has been back to campus as recently as a few years ago, and said he was wildly impressed with the new facilities.

“Now they’ve got an escalator that gets you to the top of that hill,” he said. “Can’t tell you how many times I had to walk up and down that hill, so I was impressed.”

Jim Kahler, the executive director of OU’s sports administration program, said it’s alumni such as Foley that help maintain the school’s reputation.

“It’s absolutely key to our success and our long-term sustainability,” Kahler said. “Ohio students are pretty loyal to each other.”

And Foley has been loyal to his fellow Bobcats. Take John Regas, a 2008 graduate of the program, for example. He spent Spring Break of his senior year touring the country looking for a job, and he stopped in Gainesville, Florida — home of the University of Florida — after noticing numerous Bobcats worked within the athletic department.

He spoke with Monica Lebron, a 2003 graduate of OU who worked in the Florida athletic department at the time, and she helped get him a few minutes in Foley’s office.

“I got in, spoke to Jeremy for just a couple minutes, maybe three, four, five minutes, and he goes ‘you know what, I like you,’” Regas said. “I’ll never forget. He goes ‘you from OU?’ I said ‘yeah.’ He goes, ‘you’re one of those smart guys aren’t you?’”

Foley then took Regas down the hall to meet a fellow colleague, who would later hire him. Regas worked in Florida’s athletic department as a marketing assistant and a sports marketing executive through 2013 when he took a job as the director of athletics for Franklin Community Schools in Franklin, Indiana.

“I just thoroughly enjoyed working for him for five years,” he said. “It was fantastic.”

In terms of the Bobcats meeting the Gators on the field, Foley said he is open to the schools playing in the future. Ohio last met Florida on the football field in 2002 for a 34-6 loss, and last played in men’s basketball during the 2005 NCAA Tournament, when the 4-seed Gators knocked off the 13-seed Bobcats 67-62 in a first-round game.

“If (The Post) has any influence with the schedulers, let me know,” he said.


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