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UF renames football field after Steve Spurrier

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field is seen during the first half of a game between Florida and Arkansas in Gainesville on Oct. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field is seen during the first half of a game between Florida and Arkansas in Gainesville on Oct. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (Associated Press)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida announced Thursday that it's changing the name of its football field to honor former coach Steve Spurrier.

Gator football will now be played at Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

The modification keeps the tradition of Florida Field, which was rededicated in 1934 to the memory of Florida servicemen who died in World War I. A plaque was placed on the wall outside the old north end zone as a memorial.

UF also announced a new name for the arena portion of the Stephen C. O'Connell Center, which is where the basketball games are played. It will be known as Exactech Arena, which is the result of a $5.9 million sponsorship by local orthopaedic device company Exactech.

UF's Board of Trustees approved both namings Thursday and released a rendering of the Exactech Arena sign.

“These two new names demonstrate how fortunate the university is to have both a tremendous legacy to honor with Steve Spurrier and a wonderful and long relationship with a locally based company like Exactech,” UF President Kent Fuchs said. “We’re proud to have such strong associations with two names that resonate so well in the community and throughout the Gator Nation.”

UF will honor Spurrier at the season opener versus Massachusetts in a ceremony that will include the unveiling of his namesake on the stadium. 

Spurrier said he was extremely grateful for the recognition.

“The Swamp is a special place. Us coaches and players thoroughly enjoyed playing in front of our fans. We won a bunch of them there and only lost five and they were close ones," Spurrier said. "I also met my wife, Jerri Starr, at the University of Florida. She has been a tremendous influence on everything I’ve done since. Again, I say thanks to all of those who made this honor possible and I consider this to be the biggest, most special honor I have ever received."

Spurrier is a graduate from the University of Florida. He was the starting quarterback for the Gators for three seasons and was the first player in UF history to win the Heisman Trophy.

He later became the head coach of the Florida football team from 1990-2001.

He led the Gators to their first National Championship in 1996.

Spurrier is credited with nicknaming the stadium "The Swamp."

"Coach Spurrier did more than win a Heisman Trophy, a national championship and a bunch of games. Coach Spurrier changed the culture of Florida athletics," said UF Director of Athletics Jeremy Foley.

After his resignation from Florida in 2001, Spurrier went to the NFL as the head coach of the Washington Redskins, then returned to college football and became head coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks in 2005.

Spurrier announced his resignation from South Carolina in October 2015 and retired as the winningest coach in both Florida and South Carolina history.