TAMPA, FL. – Michael Kelly spent about an hour talking to the media Wednesday afternoon about several items of interest taking place within the University of South Florida’s athletic department.
The athletic director, who announced Tuesday that each of the department’s 14 coaches have been extended through at least 2023, received an extension through 2028 that was announced Wednesday.
“I am very humbled and honored to be extended as athletic director here at the University of South Florida,” said Kelly, who assumed his current post in the summer of 2018. “I am excited about what we have accomplished, but also what we will be able to accomplish going forward.”
Among the things Kelly wants to accomplish is to continue with the upgrading and building of facilities. The Lee Roy Selmon Athletics Center received $3 million in upgrades that were completed last summer. Included was a new football locker room and offices for the coaching staff.
Shortly after the end of the football season, ground was broken on a $22 million indoor performance facility that is scheduled to be completed by the start of the 2022 football season.
The facility, which will include a practice field and will be constructed adjacent to existing practice fields, is expected to bring USF football up to par with other programs in the state.
There has also been much chatter of late with respect to an on-campus football stadium. Kelly said Wednesday that the timetable being discussed for its completion would be in the range of the 2026 to 2028 seasons. He expressed a personal desire to have the stadium ready for the 2027 season opener against Miami.
“That would be a pretty cool opening day for the stadium,” said Kelly. “In my mind, that’s what I am thinking. If they get it done faster, my bosses will be happier. If it takes a little longer, that’s understandable.”
Of course, first things first. A location needs to be pinpointed.
“Our goal, I would say by the middle of this year, if not sooner, would be to specifically identify the location on campus, which there are some that we are considering,” he said, noting that identifying “the breadth of the overall budget” and an exact location are on the front burner.
Kelly is entirely confident that Jeff Scott is the man to lead the football program. That was expressed in, among other ways, Scott receiving an extension through 2026. The 40-year-old coach is 3-18 in two seasons, though the level of buy-in among the players and a strong early signing class led by 11 transfers has heightened the level of optimism.
“I feel the (coaching) staff is aligned,” said Kelly, who praised Scott’s efforts with fundraising. “They are so energetic and so encouraging. The student-athletes, at least those that have come to express themselves to me, feel great about where they are at.”
Locking up Scott and 13 other coaches is no small feat, especially in a collegiate athletic environment where change has been taking place at a lightning-quick pace. Coaching changes and the transfer portal are the exclamation points to an impatient world these days. Alas, Kelly wanted to do things in a manner that is consistent with how his department is currently situated as well as his vision for USF athletics today and tomorrow.
“I think in society today we have a tendency to get too high or too low from maybe where we were generations ago,” said Kelly, who in November announced the addition of women’s lacrosse for the 2023-24 academic year. “That’s not saying everyone is not doing what is right for their program and their circumstances, but when I look at our resources and the best way for us to take advantage of our strengths, when I think about the best path forward, I believe we have excellent coaches. We need to be able to provide more resources and to do anything we can for our student-athletes, and that’s what is going to help us get better. It’s not going to be by changing coaches every two or three years.”
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