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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Remembering Bill Carr, former athletic director and All-American center

Carr leaves behind a memorable Gator legacy as an athletic director and an athlete

<p>Florida fans line up outside of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for Gator Walk Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022. The game welcomed the largest season-opener crowd in UF history as 90,799 fans filled the stands. </p>

Florida fans line up outside of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for Gator Walk Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022. The game welcomed the largest season-opener crowd in UF history as 90,799 fans filled the stands.

Fondly remembered as a "super Gator," William Curtis “Bill” Carr III’s profound impact on UF and its athletic program will be etched in the collective memory for generations to come.

"His legacy will be carried on by the many lives that he touched, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones,'' UF athletic director Scott Stricklin said in a statement. 

Former Florida athletic director and All-American center Carr died Saturday night at age 78. He is survived by his wife, Janice; sons Jason, Scott, Jordan and Curtis; and daughter Julie.

Born in Gainesville and raised in Vero Beach and Pensacola, UF was always a goal for Carr. He decided to come full circle and return to his hometown for college. 

As the Gators’ starting center for three seasons, Carr played a crucial role with the team during quarterback Steve Spurrier's Heisman season. He received All-SEC and All-American honors after leading Florida to an Orange Bowl victory over Georgia Tech. 

After his successful time at UF, Carr entered the NFL when he signed with the New Orleans Saints. He initially spent a season on the practice squad, but his path took a turn when he served a two-year stint in the Army. Upon his return to the Saints, he was cut before the 1970 season, leading him along a different path, one that brought him back to Florida. 

From 1979 to 1986, Carr served as Florida's athletic director. Beyond his tenure, he garnered widespread recognition as a distinguished athletics administrator, excelling in search and management consultant services for intercollegiate athletics.

He took the department over during a financial crisis as it stood $700,000 in the red. By the end of his run, UF’s athletic department thrived with an operating budget of $13 million. 

Jeremy Foley, former Gators athletic director, worked under Carr at the start of his career. 

“Bill's fingerprints are all over the foundation of this program,” Foley said. “I had a front-row seat to witness his impact and vision during his time as athletic director, especially in the area of facilities.”

Carr notably replaced men’s basketball coach John Lots to Norm Sloan, hired baseball coach Joe Arnold and brought on Ann Marie Lawlor as the women’s athletic director. 

Just three months after Charley Pell was hired to head the football program, Carr came in and appointed Galen Hall to succeed Pell after two games in 1984. Under Hall's leadership, the Gators achieved a 15-0-1 record in his initial 16 games. 

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The pinnacle of this achievement came in November 1985 when the team secured a historic road victory against Auburn, propelling them to the coveted No. 1 spot in the AP Top 25 for the first time in the program's history.

"We loved him back, and all of us have many wonderful memories of Bill," Spurrier said of Carr’s passing. 

Contact Krisha Sanghavi at Follow her on Twitter at @krishasang.  

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Krisha Sanghavi

Krisha Sanghavi is a third-year public relations and economics major. In her free time, she loves cheering on Miami sports teams and spending time with her friends.

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