Florida fires women’s basketball coach Amanda Butler

By Adam Silverstein
March 6, 2017
Florida fires women’s basketball coach Amanda Butler

Image Credit: ESPN Images

Enough was finally enough for the Florida Gators, which fired women’s basketball coach Amanda Butler on Monday following her second losing season in the last three campaigns.

“Amanda obviously loves the University of Florida. She worked tirelessly trying to grow this program and help it achieve consistent success, and her efforts will always be appreciated,” said athletic director Scott Stricklin in a release from the school. “These decisions are always difficult, and more so in this instance because of the person Amanda is and how well she is liked throughout our department.

“We will immediately begin the process of finding a new women’s basketball coach. I believe this program has the resources and support to achieve sustained success and compete for championships.”

Butler, who has been on thin ice since finishing 13-17 in the 2014-15 campaign, only led the Gators to the NCAA Tournament in four of her 10 seasons with the program. She finishes with an overall record of 190-136 but just a 71-85 mark in SEC play and two years remaining on her contract. Florida finished 15-16 (5-11 SEC) this past year.

“I appreciate the opportunity that was given to me as a young head coach to return to my alma mater, a place I love and where I developed many special relationships and memories,” Butler said. “The future is bright for the program.”

Butler, whose was fired on her 45th birthday, was a four-year starter at guard for Florida and became an assistant with the program upon her graduation, working at UF from 1994-97.

During her time coaching the Gators, Butler saw a fair amount of success on the recruiting trail and was able to lead her team to a couple victories over prominent programs. The problem is that those wins came few and far between, and for all the recruits she was able to land, many of them left the program rather quickly for one reason or another. This left Butler often with short benches and young, inexperienced players.

Former athletic director Jeremy Foley was under immense pressure to fire Butler following the 2014-15 season, but he instead decided to give her a two-year extension and an opportunity to turn the program around with a fresh set of assistants. (He was also already forced into replacing championship-winning coaches in Billy Donovan and Rhonda Faehn, along with head football coach Will Muschamp, that offseason.)

Butler responded by swapping out two assistants and leading Florida to a 22-9 record and NCAA Tournament berth last season; it was the second-best record for a Gators team under Butler, though UF was eliminated in the first round of the tournament.

Florida started Butler’s final season 9-4 but lost five straight games to open January and saw its best player, guard Eleanna Christinaki, quit the team after being suspended a half game by Butler for an unspecified “violation of team culture.” Senior G Simone Westbrook also tore her ACL prior to the start of the season.

UF never finished better than tied for fourth in the SEC under Butler as women’s basketball remained the one true black eye program in an athletic department that consistently wins championships and sees massive success in nearly every other sport on campus.

The Gators have been unable to get out of the second round of the NCAA Tournament since 1998 and have never advanced past the Elite Eight. Despite her lack of overall success, Butler’s 10 seasons give her the second-longest career in program history behind Carol Ross (12).

The dismissal marks Stricklin’s first major coaching move of any kind since taking over as Florida athletic director.


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