Oct. 19, 2015: UCF football head coach George O'Leary addresses questions from WKMG's Channel 6 reporter Mike Holfeld regarding contract rumors. Video by Jarrod Heil, Central Florida Future
UCF, which has been the only public university in Florida to keep its athletic coaches’ contracts secret, is on track to reverse its decision.
UCF spokesman Chad Binette said that after the homecoming game against Houston on Saturday, the coaches will be asked to voluntarily agree to release their contracts.
The reason UCF must first take this step, Binette said, is that UCF Athletics is a private, Direct Support Organization of the university, and Florida Statutes say that DSO records are confidential and exempt.
Under Florida Statute 1004.28, DSOs are defined as Florida nonprofit corporations that must be certified by an organization’s board of trustees to be operating in “a manner consistent with the goals of the university and in the best interest of the state,” according to the statute.
UCF is the only state university that falls under District 5 jurisdiction, and a 2004 5th District Court of Appeal case ruled that such documents cannot be released; therefore, “UCF would be breaking the law if we were to release the contracts,” Binette said.
Although UCF cannot release the current coaches’ contracts, the ruling doesn’t prevent coaches from voluntarily releasing their own contracts. If the coaches agree to do so after Saturday’s game, Binette said that UCF can then begin providing copies of requested contracts.
When head football coach George O’Leary was asked by WKMG Channel 6 reporter Mike Holfield about his contract at a press conference Monday, he said that he did not know of anything in it that he wouldn’t want the public seeing.
“It’s not my responsibility for the contracts. I sign one,” O’Leary told Holfield.
O’Leary also shot down rumors about future coaching staff, including speculation that his contract included clauses that would make offensive coordinator Brent Key the head coach if O’Leary retired or was somehow ousted from the position.
“No, there’s nothing in there with [a coach in house]. … No, there’s nothing in my contract stating anything,” O’Leary said.
Binette added that whenever new coaches are hired down the road, their contracts will include a stipulation that has them agree to waive the contract’s confidentiality, and those documents can then be released. Until then, current coaches must voluntarily agree to release their own.
“We are committed to transparency and to following the law, and this approach allows us to fulfill both of those important responsibilities,” Binette said.
Danielle Hendrix is a News Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @ByDaniHendrix or email her at DanielleH@CentralFloridaFuture.com.