Florida hires Louisiana Tech's Michael White as men's basketball coach
Florida completed a swift and stealthy search to replace Billy Donovan by announcing Thursday night that it had hired Louisiana Tech's Michael White as its next basketball coach.
Yahoo Sports first reported earlier Thursday that White had emerged as the leading candidate for the Gators' job. Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley flew out of Gainesville Thursday morning and met with White during the day to finalize a deal that will pay the 38-year-old an average of $2 million a year over six years.
White does not bring a splashy résumé to the job – but neither did Donovan when he arrived from Marshall 19 years ago.
White has been the coach at Louisiana Tech for four seasons, compiling a record of 101-40 and a conference mark of 50-16 in two seasons with Conference USA and two with the Western Athletic Conference. In the past three years, Tech has won at least 27 games every year and at least 13 in league play. White was the WAC Coach of the Year in 2013.
Louisiana Tech played in the NIT each of the past three years, advancing to the quarterfinals in the past two. The Bulldogs won or shared the WAC regular-season title in 2013 and the C-USA regular-season titles in 2014 and '15, but lost in the league tournament in what were one-bid leagues.
Tennessee sought White for its coaching position last year after Cuonzo Martin left for California. White chose to stay at Louisiana Tech, receiving an enhanced, six-year contract extension.
The son of Duke athletic director Kevin White has done extensive recruiting in Florida while as an assistant at Mississippi and as head coach at Louisiana Tech. Last season's Tech team included five players from Florida on the roster.
Similar to the style Donovan first employed at Florida, White coaches a fast-paced style, which could be seen as an important selling point to a fickle Florida basketball fan base. Louisiana Tech has ranked in the top 50 in Ken Pomeroy's tempo statistics the past three years.
"I have an incredible amount of respect for the University of Florida, and I am so excited to be a Gator," White told Gatorzone.com, the school's athletic website. "Not only is Florida home for me, but the tradition and success that the Gators have built make this an incredible opportunity. I know about the great home-court advantage in the O'Connell Center, which is a testament to the fans and the Rowdy Reptiles. There's an unbelievable commitment to excellence athletically and academically at UF, and it starts with the leadership of Dr. Fuchs and Jeremy Foley. I look forward to returning to the SEC where I have a lot of great memories, and I can't wait to create many more alongside The Gator Nation."
Donovan, who led the Gators to two national titles while becoming the winningest coach in school history, accepted the job with the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder last Thursday. He held a final news conference in Gainesville Monday, and the Florida search committee went to work on identifying a successor.
In reality, though, Foley had months to start the informal assessment. Donovan weighed NBA jobs last offseason, and it was widely expected that his move to the pro ranks was an inevitability.