The University of South Florida landed a coup today with the hiring of College Football Playoff COO Michael Kelly as USF’s first-ever vice president of athletics. Kelly replaces former athletic director Mark Harlan, who took the same position at the University of Utah earlier this month.
Kelly, a magna cum laude graduate of Wake Forest University, has a lengthy record of success in the sports industry. Before joining the College Football Playoff, Kelly was Senior Associate Commissioner for the ACC, and he is the only person to serve as the lead local executive for three Super Bowls in three different communities. He headed up the local efforts for Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium , Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville, and Super Bowl LI in Miami. In between the Tampa and Jacksonville Super Bowls, Kelly spent a year as USF’s associate athletic director for external affairs, working for Lee Roy Selmon as the school transitioned to FBS football and raised money for the athletics building that now bears Selmon’s name. Kelly was also the executive director of the committee which organized the 1999 NCAA Final Four at St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Field.
”I am truly honored to return to the University of South Florida and Tampa Bay. This is a dream opportunity for me,” said Kelly in a statement. “It’s a very exciting time with the university and the entire region on such strong upward trajectories. I can’t wait to get started with our student-athletes, coaches, staff, Bulls fans, donors and alumni everywhere.”
Not since Selmon was hired in 1993 to spearhead the development of USF Football has the university made such an ambitious move in athletics. When USF fans were drawing up their wish lists for Harlan’s replacement, a candidate of Kelly’s pedigree would have been at the very top of anyone’s list, if anyone thought he was attainable. With his endless connections to college and pro sports, and his understanding and experience working with the city of Tampa and USF, Kelly is absolutely the perfect choice for USF. His vice president title is a reflection of his achievements, his know-how, and his authority to make long-needed changes to how USF Athletics works with the public.
Among Kelly’s missions will be to reconnect with the Tampa Bay community, improve USF Athletics’ fundraising efforts, sell more tickets, and work with students and on-campus groups to make athletics a more integral part of the campus experience. Kelly will also have an eye towards the next round of conference realignment, whenever that might be, and positioning USF to regain its power conference status.
— USF (@USouthFlorida) June 26, 2018
Tampa Bay Sports Commission executive director Rob Higgins on Michael Kelly's hiring at #USF: "This isn't a great hire, it's more than that, it's the perfect hire."
— Joey Knight (@TBTimes_Bulls) June 26, 2018
— Matt Baker (@MBakerTBTimes) June 26, 2018
Photo courtesy GoUSFBulls.com