Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley has tabbed Michael White of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs as the program’s new basketball coach, signing him to a six-year, $12 million deal to be the replacement for Billy Donovan, who left after 19 seasons with the team to head to the NBA and join the Oklahoma City Thunder.
White, who spent four seasons as an assistant at Jacksonville State (2000-04) and seven at Ole Miss (2004-11) before getting his first head coaching gig with Louisiana Tech, gathered a 101-40 (.716) record with the Bulldogs in four seasons. He led Louisiana Tech to three straight league titles, all of which have resulted in NIT berths as the program fell in the WAC (2013) and Conference USA (2014-15) tournaments.
“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 school release. “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, the son of Duke AD Kevin White, turned down Tennessee and Missouri for their coaching jobs one year ago and was believed to be a candidate for the Alabama position that went to Avery Johnson.
A Florida native who played for Ole Miss and led the Rebels to two SEC West division titles and three NCAA Tournament berths, he has stood at the helm of Louisiana Tech during a lengthy home winning streak that dates back to Dec. 2013 – the fourth-longest active streak in the nation.
White, 38, is considered one of the brightest young coaches in college basketball and a strong recruiter in the South. As such, after interest last offseason from other programs, the Bulldogs signed him to a six-year, $3.6 million contract extension.
“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.”
Not yet tested as a head coach at the major-conference level, White – like Donovan when he was hired by Foley – has never participated in the NCAA Tournament in that role, though he did take Louisiana Tech to the NIT Quarterfinals in each of the last two seasons.
“We are so appreciative of Mike White and the incredible job he has done with our men’s basketball program during the past four years in Ruston,” Louisiana Tech AD Tommy McClelland said. “He represented Louisiana Tech University in a first class manner both on and off the court and for that we will forever be grateful.
“Mike and his family will always have a special place in the hearts of Bulldog fans. We wish him the best of luck at Florida. We will immediately begin a national search for his replacement. We will do our due diligence in finding the next head coach at Louisiana Tech.”
Foley, as it turns out, beat out Kevin White – then Notre Dame’s athletic director – for the services of head football coach Urban Meyer back in 2005. He has now hired White’s son as his head basketball coach.
White will be introduced as the Gators’ new head coach on Monday.
Looking forward to meeting Coach White. I believe we made a great choice! Welcome!
— Patric Young (@PatricYoung4) May 7, 2015
Here’s White’s press conference ahead of LA Tech’s 2014-15 season: