Gators dealing with economy better than most


Published: Thursday, February 19, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 20, 2009 at 12:13 a.m.

The news around the college sports world has not been good lately from a financial aspect.

Ohio State, dubbed “The Program” by Sports Illustrated, is going to operate in the red for this fiscal year.

Stanford may cut personnel and possibly a team or two because of financial problems.

Miami is going to bus to a pair of in-state football games to cut costs.

Other schools are looking at different ways to change the financial landscape, whether it be to reduce traveling parties or raise ticket prices. Hopefully, the athletes won’t have to share towels.

Meanwhile, Florida’s softball team is in Palm Springs, Calif., the men’s golf team’s next tournament is in Puerto Rico and gymnastics has a date next month in Salt Lake City.

So are the Gators recession-proof?

To a point. Athletic Director Jeremy Foley knows what he’s doing which is why the University Athletic Association not only is in the black but has a nice chunk of change in surplus.

But Foley is also very proactive, a guy who rarely looks in the rear-view mirror no matter how much confetti is falling. As a result, Foley and his staff are already talking internally about tightening next year’s budget, and travel is certainly in the conversation. UF still wants to give its teams the best chances to be successful, but it’s the economy, stupid.

WHERE’S ROMO?: Yes, that was Terrell Owens eating dinner at Outback and Stonewood this week. And that was Terrell Owens playing basketball at the Gainesville Health and Fitness Center. And that was Terrell Owens eating lunch with former teammate Terry Jackson on Thursday.

“He’s visiting a friend here,” said Jackson.

Wait until the Dallas media finds out. And wait until the Dallas media finds out how expensive it is to book a flight to Gainesville.

Anyway, hope you’re enjoying your time in our lovely city, T.O., although I understand you don’t like being called T.O. Sorry about that, T.O.

You were the second most famous person in our town this week. The most famous, of course, ate at Outback the same night. Tim Tebow told Dooley Noted it was just a coincidence.

SET, SPIKE: When you think about it, it’s amazing.

Volleyball in our community has never been stronger. The Gainesville Juniors program has sent more than 70 players to play in college including six at national power Florida.

But when it comes time to have practices, it’s a scramble.

“It’s very frustrating,” said Jeff Reavis, the Buchholz coach who is also the director of Gainesville Juniors. “It’s tough for the families. I’m spread all over town. We’ve never known any other way.”

Efforts to come up with zoning and funding have been unsuccessful. It would seem that as popular as the sport is in Gainesville, a multi-purpose facility could be constructed that would give the volleyball players a permanent base.

“We’d had families who have been in our program four-to-six years to try to get that done, but they haven’t had any success,” Reavis said.

NOT A DUD: Most of you know the story about how former Gator golfer Dudley Hart took months off from the PGA Tour to be house-husband while his wife dealt with surgery to remove a softball-sized tumor from one of her lungs.

Hart came back in 2008 and needed to make enough money in the first half of the year to keep his card. He did that and more, winning more than $2 million last season and finishing 12th in the FedEx Cup standings.

Last week at Pebble Beach, Hart was presented with the Comeback Player of the Year award.

Very deserving for one of the really good guys on Tour.

CAMP LEAK: No player in the history of the University of Florida threw for more yards than Chris Leak, who I still believe was under-appreciated. Maybe your kids will appreciate him if they head to Apopka on March 14.

There, at the Fields of Fame, youngsters can participate in Leak’s first Championship Football Academy. Among those expected to work with the kids will be former Gator stars Keiwan Ratliff and Reggie Nelson. Your child could do a lot worse than learning how to play defensive back from those two All-Americans.

The fee is $85, and you can download registration forms at chrisleakfootballacademy.com.

PACE-SETTER: You know the interactive game where you answer questions and the clues have these inane plays on the words of the wrong answers? You don’t? You don’t spend much time in bars.

Anyway, Dooley Noted’s mini-headlines seem to be infected with them.

The segues into the point (and you knew there would be one) that one of my favorite golf tournaments is coming up and I urge you to support it.

The Mary Wise Scramble will be April 3 at the University Course. The tournament, now in its 10th year, benefits PACE, which helps young girls experiencing difficulty or conflict in school or at home.

Check out marywisescramble.com for more info.

PAT-POURRI: Now Georgia athletic director Damon Evans is hot at Lane Kiffin. When will it end? ... This just in — the Braves have come to terms with Ken Griffey Jr. But he’s going to play for Seattle. ... Is there anything less interesting than non-Grand Slam tennis results? ... Congrats to former Gator safety Darryl Dixon, the new defensive backs coach at Ball State. ... Be safe.

Contact Pat Dooley at 374-5053 or at dooleyp@gvillesun.com.

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