Florida names Tony Amato as soccer coach

Special to Gatorsports.com
New Florida soccer coach Tony Amato

Florida hired Tony Amato to lead its soccer program, director of athletics Scott Stricklin announced Monday.

Amato, 42, gained a winning blend of maximizing talent, preparation and putting players in a position for success during his 18-year head coaching stops at Rollins, Stephen F. Austin and, most recently, Arizona.

“Tony Amato’s been a proven and consistent winner at each of the three programs he’s led," Stricklin said. "Each of those programs enjoyed a significant rise in success under Tony’s watch, including consistent NCAA bids. As someone who grew up in Florida and has coached in the state, he understands that the University of Florida is a special place, and his plan for Gators soccer completely aligns with our vision to succeed at the highest SEC and national levels."

With a knack for renovating programs, Amato has returned two Division I programs to NCAA Tournament play. He’s also helped guide student-athletes to all-conference, all-region and academic success.

“The University of Florida is a special place and I am extremely excited for this opportunity," Amato said. "I have admired Florida Soccer and the program Becky Burleigh built since I started coaching at Rollins College. I am honored to follow in her footsteps and will work tirelessly to make our administration, alumni and fans proud of our Gator team.

“The goal is to build off our players’ strengths and put them in a position for success. This, combined with attending a top-10 academic university, gives our players the opportunity to maximize their potential on and off the field."

In each of his three head coaching stops, Amato led programs to the NCAA Tournament. Rollins made its first NCAA Division II appearances in 2008 and 2009, Stephen F. Austin returned to NCAA play in 2012 after a four-year absence and Arizona’s 2014 appearance came after missing eight years of postseason play.

In his eight seasons at Arizona, seven players earned a total of 13 All-Pac 12 Conference honors. Nine picked up 15 Pac-12 All-Academic honors. He posted a record of 88-53-17 with the Wildcats, becoming Arizona’s all-time wins leader early in the 2018 campaign.

Amato is the second head coach for the Gators program, which begins its 27th season in fall 2021. Becky Burleigh, who coached the Gators since their first season in 1995, retired from coaching at the conclusion of the 2020-21 campaign.