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Former UAB athletic director takes vacant UNF position

UNF might be known for its jazz program, but Lee Moon, UNF’s new athletic director, believes  UNF’s athletics should be receiving the same kind of attention.

UNF President John Delaney introduced Lee Moon Feb. 5 as the sixth director of athletics at UNF, and both are ready to start a new era in UNF Athletics, Delaney said.

“This is a very special time in history for the athletic program because next year we will be a full-fledged member of Division I,” Delaney said during the press conference.  “We felt that someone that could bring in different perspective was incredibly important. We think we found a perfect person.”

Moon comes to UNF from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he served as the senior associate athletics director since 2004.

He has athletic director experience at several Division I schools including Marshall University, University of Wyoming and UAB.

And he has several plans for UNF’s future, which he said is sure to be a bright one.

“I want us to be at the top of the Atlantic Sun Conference,” he said. “I want us to compete for championships, and I want people to walk around this region of the country and Jacksonville and talk about UNF Athletics.”

During the interview process for his new position, Moon heard a lot about UNF’s jazz program and its academics.

This kind of exposure is what Moon hopes UNF athletics someday will achieve.

A huge transformation of UNF’s athletics image is something he thinks is very possible. He said hehas never seen so many people who have the desire to be something special.

Moon knows it takes several things to build a strong athletic program, and he believes he knows what it takes to succeed, he said.  One of the aspects UNF has struggled with in the past is proper financial support for its programs, but this is a problem that can easily be fixed, Moon said.

“Some people spend money on drink machines and pop; I’m going to spend money that makes the difference between winning and losing,” Moon said.

His plans to first raise those additional funds, which he has done previously at UW when he secured $4.3 million, the largest donation for the athletic program in the school’s history. Then he plans to begin recruting nation wide and developing an awareness of the athletics programs throughout the community.

Another thing UNF must do is build a stronger sports identity through its basketball teams and other features programs, Moon said.  Because UNF does not currently have a football team, Moon believes UNF’s basketball teams and other major programs need to become stronger and lead the athletics progam into the future, he said.

This is one area where Moon believes he brings a lot of expertise to the table, he said. He is responsible for hiring the current coach of the University of Florida basketball team, Billy Donovan, to his first head coaching job at Marshall.

“I know what basketball coaches are supposed to do and how to do it,” Moon said.

With the proper amount of funding and support, Moon said he believes a turnaround can come very easily for UNF’s basketball programs.

“Look at what Butler did with one-tenth of UNF’s facilities,” Moon said. “If they can do it there, I can get this done here. We’ll be fine.”

One thing Moon believes that is far off in UNF’s future is the acquisition of a football team.

“We’ve got a ways to go,” Moon said.  “We’ve got to get here where we are good at what we do right now.”

But UNF Student Body President, John Barnes, indicated Moon’s hiring is intended to have an impact on the possibility of a UNF football program.

“Anyone who hopes to see UNF football – we just took a step in the right direction,” Barnes said.

In whatever steps Moon plans to take for UNF, it is clear he will have the backing and support of the administration and community.

“We’re so excited to have Lee Moon on our home court and joining the UNF team,” Delaney said. “We feel that Lee is the most qualified individual to lead our student-athletes in competing at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics.”

E-mail John Weidner at [email protected].

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