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Former Arizona soccer coach Tony Amato leaving Florida after one season

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Former Arizona soccer coach Tony Amato is out after just one season at Florida, Gators athletic director Scott Stricklin announced Wednesday.

Florida hired Amato away from Arizona in March 2021, giving him a six-year contract that paid about $225,000 annually.

Florida went 4-12-4 under Amato in 2021 and tied for 10th in the SEC.

“This decision was extremely difficult. My thorough evaluation of the soccer program is that there is a disconnect between Tony and his athletes,” Stricklin said in a statement. “We have worked diligently with Tony since last fall when I first became aware of challenges with relationship building and communication. As the issues continued to be brought to my attention, it became apparent that sufficient progress was not being made and Tony was not a fit for the University of Florida. Therefore, it is my assessment that in order to have the program we all expect, this change is necessary. I appreciate Tony’s hard work during his time here and wish he and his family the best.

“I fully recognize the disruption this causes our athletes and our program. We all wanted this to work, but ultimately it is my responsibility to do what is in the best long-term interest of this program, and thus this decision. We are totally committed to having an outstanding soccer program. I assure everyone this is extremely important to all of us as we begin the search for our new coach.”

Amato was fired without cause, which means Florida will be forced to pay him the remainder of the contract.

Amato left Arizona as the winningest coach in program history, amassing an 88-53-17 record. The UA made the NCAA Tournament five times under Amato’s watch.

Shortly after Florida formally parted ways with Amato, WUFT in Gainesville published an account of complaints by former players who allege Amato pressured them about their eating habits and their bodies.

One former Florida player told WUFT she fell into a depressive spiral playing under Amato. After the 2021 season ended, she gained 10 pounds, drank excessively on weekends and considered deliberately crashing her car.

“He made me want to kill myself,” she said. “I wanted to die because of the way this man ran this program.”

According to the article, 13 Florida players have entered the NCAA transfer portal and another four quit with remaining eligibility since Amato’s hiring last March.

In Amato’s final two seasons at Arizona, players increasingly opted to transfer out of the program.

Stricklin told reporters the university became aware of a disconnect between Amato and players last October. The situation didn’t improve.