MSA Alumni Q&A: Jeremy Foley
Tuesday, January 17 2017 12:00am
Kelley Johnson (MSA ‘17) caught up with Jeremy Foley (MSA ‘76), who recently retired from his position of Director of Athletics at the University of Florida.
Q: Could you talk about your time at Florida and what it means for you to retire as a Gator?
I feel incredibly blessed to have had this opportunity and work at one place for 40 years. I have been surrounded by quality people in both the student-athletes and the coaches. Not many Athletic Directors get the chance to experience National Championships—and I’ve been lucky enough to experience that multiple times.
Q: As AD emeritus, it sounds like you are staying busy with several facilities projects. Can you talk about those and what else is keeping you busy in your new role?
My days aren’t quite as busy. There’s certainly still work to do and I’ve made a commitment to see projects through. I’m committed to the major renovations we are currently working on and am looking to help raise funds for those initiatives. I want to help our new AD (Scott Stricklin) however I can.
I have strong feelings for this place and the people here. You’ll find me in my new office, but still around family.
Q: How did some of your previous work experiences help you get to where you are today?
Ohio University is the reason I have had the career I’ve had. Following the MSA program, I was given an opportunity to intern at Florida in the ticket office. I did whatever I was asked to do and did it with a positive attitude. I worked my way into a full-time job [at Florida] and have been here ever since.
Q: What kind of advice would you give to aspiring sports professionals about potential internships? (why they should explore them, why they shouldn’t, what’s the value in doing an internship, etc.).
When you are given that shot…grab it and go with it. This is a pay your dues industry. You have to be willing to work your way up. Do not limit yourself. In 1976, I left my class as the only one without an internship.
At that time, I had aspirations of working in professional baseball and wasn’t that excited [about the Florida internship]. But you have to go in with eyes open and count your blessings. When you get the position, you’ll never know where it will lead.
Q: What advice would you give to someone that aspires to work specifically in college athletics or as an AD?
You’ll get the opportunity to work with more than one sport. College athletics gives you the chance to change peoples’ lives. Every year there were over 500 Florida athletes that I could impact in some way.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you have received in your professional career and how has it affected you?
Be happy with what you are doing and see the glass half full. At the end of the day it’s about doing your job; just do your job. The Gators went through some difficult times early in my career and people ask me how I survived. I tell them I just went to work. While I cannot control everything, I can control my efforts.
Q: When you came to OHIO, did you ever think you'd end up where you are today?
No I did not. I was raised in New England and was a huge Red Sox fan; I wanted to be the GM there one day. I thought I’d do my internship at Florida and go back up north to work in the professional space.
I knew I wanted to work in sports. I did that and have been very happy. The path I’ve been on has played out well for me.
Q: How has the OHIO Network affected your career after graduation?
I’ve hired some individuals that have went through the OHIO program. Just being a part of this program gives you credibility. It’s the best in the country and having it on your resume certainly helps.
Q: What do you believe is the most beneficial aspect of the MSA degree from OHIO?
When I went through the program the MSA was the only degree offered. Now students have the chance to earn the dual-degree. The change from a 1-year to a 2-year is wonderful. Students are able to receive a phenomenal education. Because of the reputation of this program and the alumni, it will open doors. OHIO has an unbelievable network, degree and curriculum.
Q: What's one piece of advice for every student currently enrolled in the MSA program?
There will be doors you want open that don’t open. It can be frustrating, but keep knocking and other doors will open. When you get an opportunity be the best at it and do anything that’s asked of you. Your given the opportunity to go to work, so work your tail off. You want people to talk about your work ethic– make it second to none.
I would make sure to provide yourself a reputation of being the most honest person in the world. I encourage everyone to not let integrity take a back seat.
Q: What's your favorite memory of Athens and Ohio University?
It’s the group of people whom I was there with. Although time has taken us in various directions, when we were in Athens, we were in it together. We worked together and fed off each other. It was like a 25-person fraternity or sorority. We all liked one another and it was an unbelievable group of people to be around.
The time goes by so fast…remember to enjoy it. I’m sitting where I am because of Athens. It gave me my start and it will happen to all who come through there. OHIO changed my life.
For more information on the OHIO MSA program, click HERE.