GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The highly controversial and successful reign of athletic director Bill Arnsparger is over at the University of Florida.
Arnsparger resigned yesterday to return to coaching as the defensive coordinator for the NFL's San Diego Chargers.
"I've always thought about one day possibly getting back into coaching. The sidelines have always been a great place that I enjoy," Arnsparger said. "I've been fortunate throughout my life to have the opportunity to do the things I really love to do."
Arnsparger, 65, was hired as Florida's athletic director in December 1986. He signed a five-year contract, which was extended in March 1989 to last through 1993. He will buy out the remainder of his contract for $25,000 a year in the form of a scholarship endowment.
Although a successor has not been named, the most likely candidate is senior associate athletic director Jeremy Foley, who will serve as interim athletic director while the Florida administration conducts a national search for a replacement. "Jeremy is very capable," Arnsparger said. "He did a great job for me. I leaned on him a great deal."
Arnsparger said he had not been looking to leave Florida. But when San Diego coach Bobby Ross contacted him last week, he became interested. He flew to San Diego last weekend and interviewed twice with Ross and Chargers general manager Bobby Beathard.
Arnsparger worked with Beathard in Miami, where Beathard was director of player personnel. Beathard tried to lure Arnsparger to San Diego to coach the defensive line last season, but Arnsparger told him he only would be interested in a coordinator's job.
Before coming to Florida, Arnsparger had enjoyed a 36-year coaching career, including 20 seasons in the NFL. He began his NFL career in 1964 with the Baltimore Colts and then joined Don Shula's Miami staff in 1970. He was the architect of the Dolphins' "No-Name Defense" in the early '70s and later developed the "Killer B's" defense in the early 1980s. He has coached in five Super Bowls.