By Official Florida FC
The University of Florida will have its third head coach in three seasons after it fired Tony Amato on April 27.
The Gators won only four of 20 matches they played under Amato, finishing a program-worst 4-12-4 overall and 3-6-1 in the Southeastern Conference. As bad as the Gators were against conference opponents, it’s their record against in-state opponents and the circumstances behind Amato’s firing that may prove to be more challenging in the years to come.
UF Athletic Director Scott Stricklin cited a disconnect between Amato and the players within the program.
“As the issues continued to be brought to my attention, it became apparent that sufficient progress was not being made and Tony was not a fit for the University of Florida,” Stricklin said in his April 27 statement. “Therefore, it is my assessment that in order to have the program we all expect, this change is necessary. I appreciate Tony’s hard work during his time here and wish he and his family the best.
“I fully recognize the disruption this causes our athletes and our program. We all wanted this to work, but ultimately it is my responsibility to do what is in the best long-term interest of this program, and thus this decision. We are totally committed to having an outstanding soccer program. I assure everyone this is extremely important to all of us as we begin the search for our new coach.”
Gainesville’s public media organization, WUFT News, reported that Amato was fired in part because of how he spoke to players about their weight and fitness.
Amato was hired in May 2021 and, according to WUFT News, issues arose as early as October. WUFT News also reported that four players quit the team and 13 others entered the NCAA transfer portal.
One of those who transferred was forward Beata Olsson, who transferred to Florida State. Olsson scored 14 goals in 1470 minutes to help the Seminoles win the 2021 national championship.
Olsson scored two goals in Florida State’s 5-2 win over the Gators on Sept. 2 to drop UF to a humbling 0-4-1. The Gators finished 1-4-1 against in-state opponents this season, with their only win being a 1-0 conquest over Florida Gulf Coast.
If the Gators are to return to the heights the program achieved under Becky Burleigh in the late 90s and early years of the 21st century, they have to become more competitive against in-state opponents and close the gap between themselves and Florida State.
With UCF moving into the Big XII, USF proving a perennial power in the American Athletic Conference and Florida State having three-national championships, the Gators cannot afford to have another hire as disastrous as Amato’s 10-month tenure.