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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Florida soccer find successor to Burleigh in Tony Amato

Florida hired its second head coach in program history

<p>Scott Stricklin announced the hire of Tony Amato Monday.</p>

Scott Stricklin announced the hire of Tony Amato Monday.

The Gators finally named a replacement for former coach Becky Burleigh who retired at the end of the 2020-2021 season.

Florida named former Arizona women’s soccer coach Tony Amato to replace the only coach in program history, Athletic Director Scott Stricklin announced Monday. 

"The University of Florida is a special place and I am extremely excited for this opportunity,” Amato said. “I have admired Florida Soccer and the program Becky Burleigh built since I started coaching at Rollins College. I am honored to follow in her footsteps and will work tirelessly to make our administration, alumni and fans proud of our Gator team.”

Amato added he’s excited to return to the state of Florida, meet the team and get this journey started. 

"Tony Amato's been a proven and consistent winner at each of the three programs he's led,” Stricklin said. “Each of those programs enjoyed a significant rise in success under Tony's watch, including consistent NCAA bids.”

Stricklin believes the knowledge Amato acquired as a coach and player will allow individuals to maximize their skills and abilities. 

The former Arizona Wildcat has been dealt a near impossible task to replace a legend in women’s collegiate soccer. Burleigh led Florida to its only National Championship in 1998, four years after the program’s birth. 

The Gators made the NCAA postseason 22 times in her 26 seasons, 12th all-time among NCAA Division I programs. They collected 12 SEC Tournament titles under her watch.

Before arriving at Arizona, Amato coached Stephen F. Austin and Rollins College. He became the coach of the Wildcats in 2013 and led them to the NCAA tournament in 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019. In 2015, Arizona made it to the Round of 16 and won 14 games, the most in Wildcats’ history. 

He also played collegiate soccer at Rollins from 1996 to 1999 and recorded 41 goals and 26 assists, which still stand top 10 in Rollins’ history. 

Amato will have to rebuild the Florida roster. The Gators finished this past season 6-8-3 and missed the NCAA tournament. 

Contact Zachary Huber at zhuber@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @zacharyahuber. 

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