University of Central Florida President John C. Hitt wanted an experienced leader with a passion for academics and athletics to serve as his interim director of athletics.
Enter the most successful football coach in UCF history.
George O’Leary, in his 12th season as a Knight, will serve as interim director of athletics through the end of 2015. At that time, a decision will be made about how to move forward for 2016 and beyond, Hitt said.
“George’s leadership and knowledge of athletics – which includes programs beyond football – will keep UCF moving forward academically, competitively and in the community,” Hitt said. “His national connections will also help us continue building the Knights’ reputation around the country.”
As for O’Leary balancing his coaching and new administrative responsibilities, Hitt said, “George believes, as do I, that our strong athletics and university staffs will ensure he is successful on and off the field.”
Calling the interim appointment “another great adventure” in his life, O’Leary stressed the five qualities he will bring to the job: leadership, organization, accountability, responsibility and trust.
“First of all, I appreciate President Hitt’s trusting me with this interim job. I love UCF and want to help us get better across the board,” O’Leary said. “I have a great interest in the total package as far as UCF is concerned.”
The Knights have won seven American Athletic Conference championships in 2014-15, including the second consecutive conference football title under O’Leary. In addition, UCF boasts the highest Graduation Success Rate for student-athletes of any public NCAA Division I FBS school in the nation.
UCF’s 95 percent Graduation Success Rate ranks in the top five overall among FBS schools, alongside private institutions Notre Dame, Stanford, Duke and Northwestern.
“There are two important things you need to do in this job,” O’Leary said. “You have to win so that UCF has the opportunity to become a top national program. And you have to bring in good kids and, hopefully, help make them great young men and women when they graduate.”
O’Leary will begin as interim director of athletics on July 11.