The University of South Florida introduced their new Vice President of Athletics, Michael Kelly, today in front of dozens of fans, staff, and donors at the Fifth Third Bank Arena Club inside the Yuengling Center.
"Our youth is a strength. We are not restricted by tradition, but we have a way to build it. We're going to build tradition one championship at a time. We're going to win more championships and we're going to do it the right way!" pic.twitter.com/Cqi1le2vYt— USF Athletics (@USFAthletics) June 29, 2018
Kelly leaves his job as the Chief Operating Officer of the College Football Playoff to take over the USF Athletic department in part because Kelly has always wanted to become an Athletic Director.
Today, he made that dream a reality and many have said that this was a home run hire, and he nailed the press conference as well.
Step one for Kelly is fan engagement and customer service. He wants the fans and donors to feel appreciated and heard, which from people we’ve spoken to, wasn’t always the case with former AD Mark Harlan.
“If I haven’t met them already today, [I want] to get to know all of our donors that are currently involved with us and see where their interests are and their passions and to get on board with our external team in terms of how we’re gonna get that USF Football Center built as quickly as possible,” Kelly said.
Kelly worked at USF in the early 2000s with former Athletic Director Lee Roy Selmon and even went out to dinner with Selmon’s wife Claybra—who was in attendance today— recently after taking the job.
“The fact that I can somehow sit in a similar chair to him in a building that’s named after him is not lost on me...No one was a better engager than Lee Roy Selmon. He listened, cared. That’s what I learned from him and that’s what I want our whole department to emulate.” Kelly said.
Dr. William Sutton chaired the search to find the new AD and about three weeks ago started zeroing in on Kelly.
“He was one of [the top candidates]. We had a couple of guys we really, really, liked a lot based on [what the criteria] was,” Sutton said. “But, the more and more we talked to people about [Kelly] that’s when he began to emerge. His stock went up everyday we talked to somebody.”
Kelly’s first call he made after things became official was to head football coach Charlie Strong and Kelly stated that their opinions are “aligned” about the on-campus football stadium.
“But, by the same token, we’ve got to get this USF Football Center built,” Kelly said. “That’s what’s gonna build not only our football program, but all of our departments can benefit from that. Right now our priority is on the USF Football Center.
Kelly is “very optimistic” that ground can be broken on the Football Center within the next 18 months.
Also, check out some of the Adidas stuff they had on display.
OH MY GOD. They’re beautiful pic.twitter.com/QklkcJuc4p— Award Winner Nathan Bond (@BullsNathanSBN) June 29, 2018