The University Athletic Association made the following announcement Wednesday about its new play-by-play broadcaster, Sean Kelley:
Sean Kelley has been hired as the Voice of the Gators, the University Athletic Association announced on Wednesday. Kelley is just the fourth person to hold the position since 1940.
“Florida is one of the elite of the elites with regard to intercollegiate athletics, said Kelley. “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.
“With the two new head coaches I’ll be working with, there’s an excitement level at Florida that is unapparelled in the country with Billy Napier and Todd Golden. And then the tradition of success at that university. It’s undeniable how attractive the Florida job is and how deeply humbled I am that I would even be considered, let alone chosen as the person to be a part of that and to follow a 33-year legend in Mick Hubert. The lineage of the ‘Voice of the Gators,’ not only is it a short list, but it’s a Hall-of-Fame list.”
Kelley joins the Gators with over 20 years of professional experience, including spending the last three years at ESPN. He joined the network in July of 2019 as the lead play-by-play voice for college football on ESPN Radio and has gone on to provide commentary on national radio broadcasts for the NFL, NBA, MLB and college basketball.
On Wednesday, Kelley joined Steve Russell on WRUF’s SportScene to discuss his new position as the “voice of the Gators.” Kelley will replace the legendary Mick Hubert at the mic. Hubert announced his retirement in May after holding his seat in the booth for 33 years.
Kelley has been a national play-by-play voice for ESPN Radio since 2019 with ties to college athletics, the NBA, NFL, and MLB. The veteran broadcaster was also the former voice of the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans.
Kelley earned a degree in journalism from Southern Illinois University where he began his career as the sports director at KFRU-AM in Columbia, Mo. During his time there, he also served as the play-by-play announcer and broadcaster for University of Missouri sports.
In 2002, Kelley voiced Tulane University’s play-by-play for football, men’s basketball and baseball. Then just three years later, Kelley received a call from the New Orleans Pelicans. For 14 seasons, Kelley ran play-by-play for the Pelicans. In addition, Kelley served seven seasons as a digital host for NewOrleansSaints.com. He also took the job as a television reporter for the Saints during the preseason.
While working in New Orleans, Kelley also contributed to the community as a firefighter with the St. Tammany Parish Fire District. Kelley discussed how he is a person who can never sit still. With the NBA off-seasons, he had the time to pursue firefighting as well. He began as a volunteer and transitioned into a paid position.
Kelley explained how he took an online course through LSU’s Fire Training Academy while completing the physical aspects of the training between road trips. Kelley continued to be a firefighter until his schedules with ESPN and the Pelicans became too much to handle.
“I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Yes… driving a fire engine is the coolest thing ever. I look back on it now and think I might have been the only sports play-by-play announcer/firefighter that I can recall,” Kelley said.
Interestingly enough, Kelley’s first official game working for ESPN was Florida’s win over Miami at Camping World Stadium which kicked off the 2019 college football season. Kelley is eager to reunite with voicing the orange & blue.
One factor that largely influenced Kelley’s decision to join the Gators was the opportunity to be part of a team. He has expressed his excitement to work alongside football head coach Billy Napier and men’s basketball head coach Todd Golden. The three will begin their journey with Gator Nation together this season.
Kelley spoke about his enthusiasm to work alongside Golden and Napier.
Kelley added how Napier’s strengths lie in his ability to recruit the right people to build a program and then further develop them “beyond their wildest dreams.”
Additionally, Kelley will look forward to the opportunity to cover multiple sports at Florida. He shared how he enjoys the rhythm of the different seasons. He has yearned to get back to the variety of sports that college towns offer. Kelley also expressed how eager he is to experience college football Saturdays in the Swamp as a member of Gator Nation.
Kelley credits his interest in pursuing sports broadcasting to where he grew up. Kelley explains how growing up in St. Louis, he listened to many outstanding broadcasters in the area such as Jack Buck announcing for the Cardinals or Dan Kelly voicing the St. Louis Blues. He further adds how in all of the great sports markets in the nation, there are announcers who become a great part of the surrounding community.