Michael White joins Florida as new coach

ByAndy Katz ESPN logo
Friday, May 8, 2015

Michael White's fit for Florida was the deciding factor for athletic director Jeremy Foley to hire the 38-year old from Louisiana Tech to replace Billy Donovan as coach of theGators.

Foley said Friday being the right fit, "is huge for us, as big as anything. He is a perfect fit and I am convinced he wins big.''

The school announced the hiring Thursday.White is scheduled to be formally introduced at a news conference Monday. The school said White agreed to a six-year deal worth an average of $2 million per year.

"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."

White replaces Donovan, who guided the Gators to two national championships and was hired as the coach of the Oklahoma City Thunderlast week.

White coached Louisiana Tech for four seasons from 2011-15, winning a share or the outright regular-season conference title in each of the past three seasons, only to fall short of winning the conference tournament in the WAC (2013) and Conference USA (2014, '15) to earn the automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.

The Bulldogs, instead, played in the NIT the past three seasons.

"Mike is a winner,'' Foley said. "His familiarity in recruiting in Florida and the South was huge. I love him.''

Foley said White's inability to coach in the NCAA tournament had no bearing on his candidacy.

"Billy didn't have any either in his first four years as a coach,'' Foley said of Donovan's first two years as a head coach at Marshall from 1994-96 and at Florida from 1996-98.

Foley said as soon as the Thunder reached out to Donovan, the Gators started collecting information on candidates. Multiple sources had told ESPN that Florida had looked into Xavier's Chris Mack and Dayton's Archie Miller, but it would have taken a significant amount of money to pry them away from their respective jobs. Both coaches, according to sources, weren't sold on leaving for Florida.

Mack coached the Musketeers to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament this past season, and Miller led the Flyers to the Sweet 16 in 2014.

But it may not have mattered. Foley said he locked in on White.

"Mike really started to rise to the top of the list last Saturday,'' Foley said. "Then we spent four full days researching him. It culminated [Thursday].''

White will bring in his own staff. Foley said he didn't know if Donovan would take assistant coaches John Pelphrey and Anthony Grant with him to Oklahoma City.

White, who is the son of Duke athletic director Kevin White, had a 101-40 record with the Bulldogs, including a 27-9 mark last season as he guided Louisiana Tech to the NIT quarterfinals.

He knows the SEC well, having played at Ole Miss and coached with the Rebels under Andy Kennedy.

"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 said.

ESPN's Jeff Goodman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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