Florida hires San Francisco’s Todd Golden as new Gators basketball coach

By Adam Silverstein
March 18, 2022
Florida hires San Francisco’s Todd Golden as new Gators basketball coach
Basketball

Image Credit: ESPNI

The Florida Gators struck fast in replacing head basketball coach Mike White by hiring up-and-coming San Francisco Dons head coach Todd Golden, the program announced Friday. Golden has agreed to a six-year, $18 million contract, OnlyGators.com can confirm.

White left Florida for Georgia last week after the Gators were eliminated in the first round of the 2022 SEC Tournament. Florida was planning to move on from White at the conclusion of the season, perhaps after the NIT, with UF believing other programs would have interest in White’s services and a separation could come without needing a buy out of his contract, sources told OnlyGators.com.

As such, it was believed that Gators athletic director Scott Stricklin long had a top target in mind and planned to move quickly as he did when he replaced head football coach Dan Mullen with Louisiana head coach Billy Napier just a couple months ago.

“We’re incredibly excited about bringing in Todd, who is an innovative, relationship-oriented coach, to lead our men’s basketball program,” said Stricklin in a statement. “Todd brings a smart and analytics-driven approach to the game and a relational approach to leadership that puts student-athletes first. He has a wide range of experience, particularly for a coach his age, and brings an outstanding track record and high level of integrity to the job.”

“I’m energized by the opportunity to lead an elite program at Florida, and I’m ready to get started,” said Golden. ”Florida has a championship-level athletic department, university and men’s basketball program, and I embrace the standard of excellence at Florida and the passion of Gator Nation. We couldn’t be more excited about what the future holds in Gainesville.”

CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander reports that, in hiring Golden, “Stricklin wasn’t concerned with bringing in a big name from a power conference; he was focused on hiring the best fit”. In fact, hiring Golden was a battle won for Florida as there were a number of power conference programs vying for his services.

Golden, 36, is seen as a bright, ambitious coach who is heavily focused on analytics. One comparison shared with OnlyGators.com by a veteran coaching agent source was Mike McDaniel, the former San Francisco 49ers running game coordinator recently hired as head coach of the Miami Dolphins.

Golden is the fourth straight head basketball coach that Florida has hired in his 30s following White, Billy Donovan and Lon Kruger. His No. 10-seeded Dons lost 92-87 on Thursday night in a thrilling overtime battle with No. 7 Murray State in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. The Gators have since noted that Golden agreed to terms with Florida prior to tip off Thursday.

Golden went 24-10 with San Francisco this season, leading the Dons to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1998 and a top 25 KenPom defensive ranking. He finished 22-12 in his first year at San Francisco and is 57-36 (.613) overall across three seasons, 23-22 (.511) in West Coast Conference play, with no better than fourth-place finish in the WCC during his tenure.

Prior to taking his first head coaching job, Golden served in off- and on-court roles at Columbia (2012-14) and Auburn (2014-16) before heading to San Francisco as an assistant (2017-19). He was promoted to the top job ahead of the 2019-20 season when previous head coach and mentor Kyle Smith left for Washington State.

Florida currently employs executive associate AD Jay Jacobs, who was the Auburn AD when Golden worked for head coach Bruce Pearl during his time with the Tigers.

Golden, an American-Israeli, walked on at St. Mary’s where he helped lead the Gaels to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances as a three-year starter. He was St. Mary’s all-time leader in free-throw shooting (.832) at the time of his graduation, and as a senior, he was second nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio. After college, Golden played three seasons with Maccabi Haifa in Israel before returning to the United States and getting into coaching two years later.

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