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UF women's coach surprises school, resigns

University of Florida women's head basketball coach Carol Whitmire resigned Tuesday with four games remaining in the regular season. Whitmire, who was in her fifth season with the Gators, gave no specific reason for her resignation, which was reluctantly accepted by UF associate athletic director Ann Marie Lawler.

"I made a decision based on what is best for the team and best for me," Whitmire said in a release issued by the university.

"I care about this program and this university and believe I've taken the program as far as I could have at this point. It is time for a new coach to be selected to take it to the next level. I wish the players and coaches good luck in the future."

This season, Whitmire had directed the Gators to a 12-10 overall record and 1-6 in the Southeastern Conference. In five seasons under Whitmire, Florida went 58-76.

Lawler said she was surprised by Whitmire's sudden resignation.

"As Carol said, she felt she had done all she could do in a tough basketball conference for women," Lawler said. "It was her decision.

Personally, I feel Carol brought some great student-athletes to campus.

I've been very pleased with the way the program has improved. This was very much a surprise."

Lea Henry, a four-year assistant under Whitmire, will serve as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season. Lawler said a national search for a women's head coach will be conducted after the season.

Henry also gave no reason for Whitmire's sudden departure, but indicated the Gators' head coach had been considering resigning for several days.

"The past three days, we've all been through a lot. And of course, we were wondering what was going to happen," Henry said. "The fact is that Carol made this decision. We've been having meetings and Carol expressed that she was thinking about this. And today, we found out about it. There's a lot of things I don't know.

"The only reason we heard, it was the best thing for the program and her personally to do this. We don't have answers as to why. You'll have to ask her that. She decided to leave at this time. We're just trying to accept the fact she did. We're going to go on and we're not going to try to dwell on it. We're going to do what's best for the program and do the best job we can for the next three weeks."

Henry was a member of the 1984 United States Olympic gold-medal basketball team, having played collegiately at Tennessee.