The Florida Gators have their replacement for famed announcer Mick Hubert. Hubert retired in May after 33 years calling Gators’ games. The university announced Wednesday that they’ve now signed a deal with Sean Kelley to take on that role.
Kelley has been a national play-by-play voice for ESPN Radio since 2019, serving as their lead college football announcer and also calling college basketball, NBA, and MLB games. With Florida, he’ll focus on football and men’s basketball. Here’s more from a FloridaGators.com piece on that move, written by Scott Carter:
Kelley said he wasn’t looking to leave ESPN Radio after three years as the lead play-by-play voice on national college football, but when a door to the Florida job opened, he decided to walk through to see what was there. He joins Hubert (1989-2022), David Steele (1982-89) and Otis Boggs (1940-82) on the short list of broadcasters to be called “Voice of the Gators.”
“Florida is one of the elite of the elites with regard to intercollegiate athletics,” Kelley said. “That makes it not only a destination job for anyone in our business, it makes it a destination job for those who have reached certain heights in our business.”
…“I grew up in St. Louis where Jack Buck was the voice of the Cardinals, Bob Costas got his career started there, Dan Kelly was the voice of the St. Louis Blues,” Kelley said. “I grew up in a town where sportscasters were not only some of the best in the country but were also true ambassadors of the teams and the city. They’re the ones who inspired me and made me want to get into the business.
“All this time, I have been in search of a place where I could be that same all-in kind of announcer. Call the games, yes. But also represent the university and be a part of the fabric of the community.”
After earning a journalism degree from Southern Illinois University, Kelley started his broadcasting career as sports director at KFRU-AM in Columbia, Missouri, where he also called Missouri Tigers‘ sports on their radio network. He then went to Tulane in 2002 to call football, men’s basketball and baseball, then became the radio voice of the NBA’s New Orleans Hornets (later to become the Pelicans) in 2005, a role he held until 2019. During his time in New Orleans, he also spent seven seasons as a digital host and preseason reporter for the NFL’s Saints, and he served as a firefighter (first volunteer, then paid) with the St. Tammany Parish Fire District for several years. Here’s what he told Sharief Ishaq of New Orleans NBC affiliate WDSU on that latter role in 2016:
“It’s truly a different world that the fire surface is, and I guess I’ve always had an interest in it,” Kelley said.
His interest was seeded in childhood and has blossomed into a life-giving passion.
“It was the want to do something for the community to be involved in a completely different way,” Kelley said.
Kelley now has a new community to be involved with with Gators’ athletics. We’ll see how he does in that new role, and which voice or voices ESPN tabs to replace him for national ESPN radio broadcasts.
Update: ESPN’s Bill Hofheimer notes that Kelley will continue to call ESPN games as his schedule allows. So they’ll have to find replacements for some of the work he was doing, but not all of it.
Fortunately for us, Sean will continue to call a number of games for ESPN as his UF schedule allows. pic.twitter.com/j3UTzbYTPm
— bill hofheimer (@bhofheimer_espn) July 6, 2022