USF is Head over Heels for Michael Kelly

By on June 26, 2018



TAMPA, Fla. – University of South Florida System President Judy Genshaft today announced the appointment of Michael Kelly as USF’s new vice president of athletics. Kelly, currently the chief operating officer for the College Football Playoff, will be officially introduced at a news conference on Friday, June 29 on the USF campus in Tampa.

Kelly, who previously served as associate athletic director for external affairs at USF under former AD and Tampa Bay legend Lee Roy Selmon, returns to the university with nearly 25 years of experience in college and professional athletics.

“Michael Kelly is a proven leader with a wealth of experience across the national collegiate athletic landscape, as well as within Tampa Bay,” Genshaft said. “He has a track record of promoting competitive excellence, building strong community relationships, developing marketing campaigns, reaching fundraising goals and supporting academic achievement. His future-focused vision and high moral character will ensure that our already strong USF Athletics program reaches new heights. I look forward to all that USF and the Tampa Bay community will achieve under Michael’s leadership.”

Since becoming COO of the College Football Playoff (CFP) in 2012, Kelly has directed the organization’s day-to-day operations and was instrumental in launching the playoff. In his role, Kelly managed the site selection process for the CFP National Championship and oversaw all aspects of the National Championship Game and associated ancillary events, including the event hosted by Tampa Bay in 2017. In addition, he served as the primary liaison to ESPN and managed the CFP’s relationship with the “New Year’s Six” bowl games. He also participated in all meetings of the CFP selection committee.

Prior to that, for six years Kelly served as senior associate commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference, overseeing football, broadcasting and communications. During his time with the ACC, he built strong relationships with coaches, media, television network partners, conference officials and university leaders throughout the country.


Kelly is the only person to ever serve as lead local executive for three different Super Bowls in three different communities, having been president of the Super Bowl host committees in Tampa Bay (Super Bowl XXXV), Jacksonville (Super Bowl XXXIX) and South Florida (Super Bowl XLI). He was also executive director of the 1999 Men’s Basketball Final Four Organizing Committee, for the event held at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

From June 2001 – July 2002, Kelly worked as USF’s associate athletic director for external affairs, supervising the key areas of development, ticket sales, ticket operations, corporate sponsorships, marketing, broadcasting and licensing. Kelly helped USF Football transition to Division I-A and led fundraising efforts for a new athletic center.

“I am truly honored to return to the University of South Florida and Tampa Bay. This is a dream opportunity for me, and I couldn’t be more grateful to President Genshaft and the USF Board of Trustees,” Kelly said. “It’s a very exciting time with the university and the entire region on such strong upward trajectories. I can’t wait to get started with our student-athletes, coaches, staff, Bulls fans, donors and alumni everywhere.”

Kelly was selected after a national search announced by the university on June 4.

“Michael Kelly is the perfect person to take USF Athletics to the next level in every way,” Bill Sutton, who led USF’s search advisory committee, said. “During the search process, I’ve been impressed by his knowledge of the university, our communities and his clear desire to be selected for this role. Combined with Michael’s extraordinary experience and the relationships he’s built across the country, he’s exactly who we need to position USF Athletics for future success.”

Kelly, 47, earned his bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University and his master’s degree from St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens. He has previously served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Tampa and St. Thomas University, as well as a guest lecturer at USF and several other institutions.

He and his wife, Lisa, have two daughters, Cara and Seana.

More details on the news conference will be announced later this week.

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