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Mike White leaves Florida Gators basketball for Georgia

White was 142-88 in seven seasons at Florida.
Florida coach Mike White coached his last game with the Gators in Tampa. He's the new coach at Georgia.
Florida coach Mike White coached his last game with the Gators in Tampa. He's the new coach at Georgia. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Mar. 13|Updated Mar. 14

Florida basketball coach Mike White has left the Gators for rival Georgia, the Bulldogs announced Sunday. CBS first reported the news.

The move gives White and his now-former program a fresh start both sides probably needed.

White was not bad at UF. The Dunedin native went 142-88 in seven seasons after joining UF from Louisiana Tech. He made the NCAA Tournament four times and was denied a fifth trip because of the coronavirus shutdown in 2020.

Before this season, his Gators were one of six teams nationally to win at least one game in four consecutive NCAA Tournaments. In 2016-17, White led UF to the Elite Eight and was named the SEC’s coach of the year. UF also reached the top 10 in 2019-20.

Florida coach Mike White took the Gators to New York City during their Elite Eight run in 2017.
Florida coach Mike White took the Gators to New York City during their Elite Eight run in 2017.

But his Gators could not go from good to great. Florida was bounced in the second round of each of the past three NCAA Tournaments, including a stunning upset to No. 15 seed Oral Roberts last year.

UF never won the SEC under White and only reached the semifinals of the conference tournament once (2019). He was 17-20 in March, a record that soured a vocal portion of the UF fanbase. His team’s 83-80 overtime loss to Texas A&M at Amalie Arena during this past week’s SEC tournament dashed UF’s NCAA Tournament hopes.

White hadn’t been bad enough to be put on the hot seat. Though his seasons ended disappointingly, he won 61.7 percent of his games, made the NCAA Tournament most years and ran a program that stayed out of trouble.

But he did not live up to the legendary legacy of his predecessor, Billy Donovan. If Donovan raised the standard at Florida to include Final Four appearances and regular runs at conference championships, White fell short.

Mike White's final game with the Gators was a loss to Texas A&M at Amalie Arena.
Mike White's final game with the Gators was a loss to Texas A&M at Amalie Arena. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

White’s decision, then, resets things for himself and Florida. He gets a fresh slate in a conference he knows well (he was a four-year starter at Mississippi and spent seven seasons as a Rebels assistant). He takes over a Georgia program with little history; the Bulldogs have only made the Sweet 16 twice and have only been invited to the NCAA Tournament once in the past decade.

The Gators get a chance to find a new coach with a higher ceiling than what White had shown in Gainesville, and they do so without having to fire someone who was well liked inside and outside the athletic department.

White became the latest SEC coach to exit after losing in Tampa. Georgia’s Tom Crean, Missouri’s Cuonzo Martin and LSU’s Will Wade were all fired, and more changes within the league remain possible.

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