That was fast.
Exactly a week after longtime coach Billy Donovan left for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Florida tabbed his successor.
Louisiana Tech coach Michael White, a 38-year-old native of Dunedin, was hired as the Gators’ next head coach Thursday, agreeing in principle to a six-year contract worth around $2 million per year.
White was 101-40 in four seasons with the Bulldogs, leading them to three straight Conference USA regular-season titles but zero NCAA Tournament berths.
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“I have an incredible amount of respect for the University of Florida, and I am so excited to be a Gator,” White said in a statement.
“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. [Kent] 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.”
White, who reportedly turned down openings at Tennessee and Missouri last offseason, is the son of Duke athletics director Kevin White and played in the SEC at Ole Miss from 1995-99. Later, he returned to his alma mater as an assistant from 2004-11.
Now, he must replace a legend. Donovan built Florida into a national powerhouse, leading the Gators to four Final Fours, 14 NCAA Tournaments and a pair of national titles. But the program is at a bit of a crossroads, with an uneven roster and facilities deemed outdated.
Still, White is charged with continuing Donovan’s success, and the reigning C-USA Coach of the Year is a very typical Foley hire.
The former Rebels guard is considered one of the brightest rising stars in college hoops ‒ a sharp tactician and a strong recruiter, especially in Florida.
He brings to Gainesville a fast-paced system, emphasizing aggressiveness and efficiency. Louisiana Tech led its league in three-point field goals made all four seasons under White and ranked in the top 10 nationally in steals the past two seasons.
“Michael White is someone who came to the top of our list very quickly and he checks all of the boxes we were looking for,” Foley said.
“He is a winner who has a high level of integrity, plays an up-tempo style of play and has the respect of his peers and the basketball community. He has experience in coaching, recruiting and playing in the Southeastern Conference and has a strong pedigree. He has a certain authenticity with people and is not afraid of challenges.”
Although White’s teams never reached the NCAA Tournament, the Bulldogs did make the NIT the past three seasons, advancing to the quarterfinals in 2013-14 and 2014-15.