Florida Says Goodbye To Carolyn Peck

By David Jones
Updated: February 13, 2007

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A tearful Carolyn Peck, fired as Florida’s women’s basketball coach on Monday, dropped her head for a few seconds during an afternoon press conference. She then fought back the tears and confessed the program had not progressed to a high level “as soon as it needed to be.”

While UF is the only school to ever be reigning national champions in football and men’s basketball at the same time, the women’s hoops program has been a different story this season — going winless in league play and is, so far, 0-for-2007.

Peck, who has one year remaining in a six-year contract that pays about $300,000 per year, will coach the rest of this season before departing.

Florida reached postseason play the past three years — sandwiching a pair of NCAA berths around a WNIT bid.

But this year’s team is 6-20 overall and 0-11 in SEC play.

“It’s a great place,” said Peck, 69-74 as the Gators’ women’s coach. “I will always be supportive of not only women’s basketball, but all sports, because they are great and there’s a great group of people assembled here to keep it and maintain it being great.”

Peck did not field questions during the Monday afternoon press conference to announce her firing. She only made a brief statement, then left the room.

Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley said he did not want to distract possible candidates to replace Peck during their current seasons, so the process of hiring a new coach could take several weeks.

“Sometimes things just don’t work,” Foley said. “I think in this situation, it just hasn’t worked.”

Peck came to UF after two years coaching the Orlando WNBA franchise. She led Purdue to a 34-1 record and the national title in 1999, before departing for the WNBA and was one of the hottest young coaches in women’s hoops when she arrived in Gainesville.

Florida did not recruit well, however, and lost several players for various reasons. Players on the current team were supportive of Peck but understood the squad has struggled this year. Foley wanted to make the decision now, to end speculation and give both UF and Peck time to plan for the future.

Senior guard Kim Dye: “It feels like a shock more than anything because I wasn’t expecting the timing of it.”

Junior guard Depree Bowden: “It’s an emotional time. Carolyn Peck is a very good coach but Jeremy Foley felt like he had to make this decision to make our team better.”

Freshman forward Sharielle Smith: “I haven’t been here very long but for the time I’ve been here, I loved Coach Peck as a coach. I came here because I loved the coaching staff. This decision was made for the best, I guess. But I’m upset that she’s leaving.”