O’Leary steps down as UCF’s interim director of athletics

Produced by Frank Shala

George+O%27Leary+is+in+his+12th+season+as+UCF%27s+head+football+coach+and+has+lead+the+program+to+seven+bowl+games.

Bryce Brimhall / Valencia Voice

George O'Leary is in his 12th season as UCF's head football coach and has lead the program to seven bowl games.

ORLANDO — George O’Leary announced that he would be stepping down as UCF’s interim director of athletics on Monday, giving way for Brad Stricklin to take over for the remainder of the year while the university conducts a nationwide search.

“Right now I’m head football coach and that’s my title,” said O’Leary on Monday. “The interim director will go to Brad Stricklin, who will done an outstanding job, he’s done an outstanding job as executive assistant.”

O’Leary had been the interim athletic director since July when than AD Todd Stansbury took the position at Oregon State, leaving a void that needed filling before Fall sports started.

The decision to step down comes in the middle of winless season for the UCF Knights, as the football program is 0-6 going into Week 7 while ranking last in the FBS in rushing yards and in the bottom 10 in total offense, offensive efficiency and overall efficiency.

But the reason O’Leary is stepping down is more contractual than having anything to do with the season, it was agreed upon before the season that he would let university president John Hitt know by October 15 if he had interest in becoming the full time athletic director.

Stricklin, who will take over on an interim basis, has been with UCF since 2006 and was promoted over the summer to work directly with O’Leary during his time as athletic director. During his time at the position O’Leary often praised Stricklin for the work he did to make the transition seamless.

O’Leary credits his passion for coaching as one of the reasons he stepped down, saying that after spending some time as director of athletics he realized it wasn’t a job he wanted in the future.

“Really I don’t have an interest in being an AD,” said O’Leary. “I’m not into kumbaya and bureaucrats and all the things you have to do with that, even though I think we’ve done a great job as far as right now.”

The 69-year-old did mention that he will meet with Dr. Hitt at the end of the season to discuss if he’ll coach beyond this year but did say he still loves coaching and that if his health holds up he sees himself coaching up all the young freshman that are seeing playing time this year until they graduate.

“That’s my really one true love, is coaching,” said O’Leary. “And I enjoy it.”

O’Leary is in his 12th year as UCF’s head football coach and during his time there has lead the program to all seven of the bowl games in school history including the 2014 Fiesta Bowl, as well as leading the Knights to first back-to-back conference titles.