The Gator Nation received some somber news this weekend with the passing of former University of Florida football player, assistant and athletic director Bill Carr. The announcement was made by the school on Twitter Sunday afternoon; he was 78 years old.
“Our hearts are saddened to hear the passing of Bill Carr,” the post reads. “Forever remembering him in Orange & Blue. Forever a Gator.”
Carr, who was born in Gainesville on Nov. 29, 1945, and was raised in Pensacola, got his start in the Swamp as the center for the football team from 1964-66 when he roomed with Steve Spurrier. The two provided an All-American double-punch that helped the young quarterback earn the first-ever Heisman Trophy for the program.
“All of us Gators are saddened to hear about the passing of Bill Carr,” Spurrier said in a statement. “He was my roommate and starting center when I was quarterback, and went on to become athletic director at Florida. He is an all-time great Gator and a tremendous friend to me and so many others. I was fortunate to see him just a couple of weeks ago and he was battling some health issues.
“He told me he was prepared to go to Heaven and when the Good Lord called his number he would be ready to go. His teammates called him Willie C and he loved his school and everyone around him. We loved him back and all of us have so many wonderful memories of Bill.”
The New Orleans Saints made Carr their fourth-round draft pick at 106th overall in the 1967 NFL draft. He only played a year in NOLA, leaving after to fulfill his military service obligation to the Army and ultimately serving in Korea.
Carr was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural class of 1968.
He returned in 1970 to earn a master’s degree and rejoined the program as a graduate assistant before getting promoted to then-athletic director Ray Graves’ assistant four years later. Carr finally got the big job in 1979, becoming the youngest person in the role at a Division I school at the time.
He served as AD until 1986 and is credited with “helping lead Florida’s athletic department out of debt and spearheading the construction of the school’s basketball facility as well as an expansion of the football stadium,” according to the Associated Press. It was also an era plagued with NCAA violations, forcing him out of the role as the school was embroiled in an NCAA investigation that resulted in a three-year probation.
He was succeeded by Jeremy Foley, who went on to bring the Golden Age to Gainesville during his tenure.
“Bill’s fingerprints are all over the foundation of this program,” Foley said in a statement. “I had a front-row seat to witness his impact and vision during his time as athletic director, especially in the area of facilities.”
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the loss of Gator great Bill Carr,” current Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin said. “Bill was committed to his faith, family, friends, his community and the Gators, and his selfless attitude anchored his life of service. His legacy will be carried on by the many lives that he touched and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones.”