The University of South Florida announced on Tuesday that College Football Playoff Chief Operating Officer, Michael Kelly, will be the new vice president of athletics.
The USF job is a homecoming of sorts for Kelly, who was the USF associate athletic director under NFL Hall of Famer, Lee Roy Selmon, who was the athletic director responsible for starting the football program. After a one year stint in Tampa, he spent six years as the senior associate commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference and served as the president of the host committee for Super Bowl XXXV, Super Bowl XXXXIX, and Super Bowl XLI.
Kelly is as much of a football industry insider as the school could have hoped to land. His six years with the College Football Playoff and time spent leading the ACC will be crucial in USF’s bid to land get themselves back into a top tier conference. The American, with it’s interesting destinations and challenging lineup of up-and-coming programs, leaves the athletic department short tens of millions of dollars of media revenue and exposure compared to their would-be peers in the state, UF and FSU. Getting back to a nationally relevant conference has to be a top priority for the program, and the Kelly hire should help that cause.
After the departure of former athletic director, Doug Woolard, the university made a basketball focused hire in former UCLA assistant athletic director, Mark Harlan. Instead of a net improvement in men’s basketball success, both basketball and football experienced decline. Hiring Kelly is a clear indication that the emphasis will now be on football, where it should have remained.
How successfully he will be at USF cannot be known, but the Bulls have swung for the fences with this hire, and that’s a positive sign for USF fans.