Former Florida AD Bill Carr, who led the Gators on the field and from the front office, dies at 78

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Former Florida athletic director Bill Carr, an All-America center and team captain for the Gators in 1966, died Saturday night. He was 78.


The university confirmed Carr’s death Sunday.

Carr was the school’s AD for seven years (1979-86). He left voluntarily and served as the executive director of a youth advocacy group and as vice president at Raycom Sports before returning to college athletics as Houston’s AD in 1993.

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Carr was born in Gainesville and spent time in Vero Beach and Pensacola before returning to his hometown for college. He was a three-year starter for the Gators and was Steve Spurrier’s roommate as a senior.

“I was fortunate to see him just a couple of weeks ago, and he was battling some health issues,” Spurrier said in a statement. “His teammates called him ‘Willie C,’ and he loved the school and everyone around him. We loved him back and all of us have so many wonderful memories of Bill.”

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Carr was a fourth-round draft pick (106th overall) by the New Orleans Saints in 1967. He left the Saints later that year to fulfill his military service obligation. He spent two years in the Army and served in the Seventh Infantry Division in Korea. He returned to the Saints after serving and was cut following the preseason.

Carr moved back to Florida in 1970 to serve as a graduate assistant for the football team while earning a master’s degree in education. In 1974, he became an assistant to Florida AD Ray Graves. When Graves retired in 1979, Carr was promoted and became the youngest AD in Division I at the time.

He’s credited with helping lead Florida’s athletic department out of dept and spearheading the construction of the school’s basketball facility as well as an expansion of the football stadium.

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“Bill’s fingerprints are all over the foundation of this program,” former Florida AD Jeremy Foley said. “I had a front-row seat to witness his impact and vision during his time as athletic director, especially in the area of facilities.

“He was one of my first mentors and had a huge impact on my career.”

Carr also was in charge when the NCAA handed the Gators a three-year probation in 1984. Carr was criticized for not doing enough to stop the excesses of football coach Charley Pell, who resigned in the wake of the NCAA investigation.

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