Michael White embraces challenge as new Florida Gators head basketball coach

Measured and calm, Michael White was introduced Monday as the 20th head basketball coach in the history of the Florida Gators.

While White did not come right out of the gate with a ton of energy or promises, he was deliberate in his statements and accepting of the tall task ahead – replacing legendary coach Billy Donovan. He opened with a lengthy, prepared statement before taking questions from the gathered media, all of which has been captured and broken down here on OnlyGators.com.

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New Florida Gators coach Michael White handles inevitable Billy Donovan comparisons, questions

Introduced to gathered media and a national online audience Monday, new Florida Gators head basketball coach Michael White touched on a number of topics during an extensive stay at the podium, not the least of which was how he compared to – and would try to replace – a program legend in coach Billy Donovan.

Like Donovan was 19 years ago when hired by athletic director Jeremy Foley, White is young, talented and runs an up-tempo offensive system. He’s also never won an NCAA Tournament game and comes to Florida from a smaller program in Louisiana Tech.

To many, he sounds exactly like a young Donovan, a juxtaposition White takes great pride in even if he does not think the comparison is perfect.

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Florida Gators name Jenny Rowland program’s new head gymnastics coach

Making his third major coaching hire this offseason, Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley has tabbed Jenny Rowland as the program’s new gymnastics coach.

Rowland – a former All-American gymnast and member of the U.S. Women’s National Team (1985-90) who was named the 2015 NCAA co-Assistant Coach of the Year – has spent five seasons with Auburn, serving as the program’s associate head coach over the last two campaigns.

“When we started this search, there was one name that kept coming up – Jenny Rowland. What Auburn has done over the past few seasons is quite impressive and she’s played a big role in the Tigers’ progress. We feel confident she’s ready to guide the Gator program,” Foley said.

“She wants Gator gymnasts to thrive in all aspects of their student-athletic career – in the classroom, in the competitive arena and in developing the life skills to be successful following college. She knows what is like to be a competitor on the national, international and collegiate stages. She has what it takes to be a successful recruiter as she’s built relationships with so many in the gymnastics world.”

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Primer on new Florida Gators basketball coach Michael White with answers to your questions

The Florida Gators on Thursday officially announced the hiring of Michael White as the 20th men’s basketball coach in program history.

Watch Live: Introductory press conference — Monday, May 11 at 11 a.m.


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Florida Gators hire Louisiana Tech’s Michael White as men’s basketball coach

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.”

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Louisiana Tech’s Michael White primary candidate to replace Billy Donovan with Florida Gators

A source confirmed to OnlyGators.com on Thursday that Louisiana Tech Bulldogs head coach Michael White has emerged as a legitimate candidate to replace Billy Donovan with the Florida Gators. This is at the same time as Yahoo! Sports reported that White is the “leading candidate” to replace Donovan.

According to Yahoo! Sports, White and Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley may meet “as soon as” Thursday.

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Silver Lining: Billy Donovan exits Florida Gators as friend, AD Jeremy Foley looks for replacement

There are successful coaches, championship-winning coaches, hall of fame coaches … and then there are transformative coaches that come around once in a generation to shape a program in their image.

After 19 years with the Florida Gators, the efforts made and results produced by now-former head basketball coach Billy Donovan cannot be constrained by even such a broad categorization. Not when they extend well off the court to the athletic program as a whole, the university and even the surrounding community of Gainesville, Florida.

How, then, do you go about replacing a man like Donovan?

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Billy Donovan supports John Pelphrey for Florida Gators job, hopes program doesn’t take step back

Monday’s farewell press conference with now-former Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan featured plenty of recollection over his 19-year career in Gainesville, Florida, but it was also a time to look forward to the future of the program and who might replace arguably the best team sports coach in school history.

As such, Donovan was not bashful in supporting Gators assistant coach John Pelphrey – his former player at Kentucky and long-time assistant (at Marshall, two stints at Florida) – for the role when asked directly about his potential candidacy.

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