Georgia basketball to hire Florida Gators coach Mike White

Graham Hall
Gator Sports
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Florida's Mike White is leaving the Gators to coach Georgia, UF's rival in the SEC Eastern division.  

CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein was the first to report White would be departing Gainesville and heading to Athens, Georgia.

"I am extraordinarily grateful to the leadership of Scott Stricklin and to the entire Florida Athletics staff for an amazing experience during my tenure,” White said in a statement Sunday night. “Thank you to each and every one of our current and former players.  Your hard work, commitment and dedication was and continues to be an inspiration. I will cherish our relationships forever. In addition, the Gainesville community has been wonderful to my family and I. We are truly thankful for our time at the University of Florida."

In his seven years at Florida after succeeding Billy Donovan, White ranked inside the top-20 in all-time SEC winning percentage, but his final two seasons at the helm were marked by adversity. 

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Coming into the 2021-22 season, White had led the Gators to four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, the only conference program to accomplish such a feat, but the Gators hadn't made it past the second round since the 2016-17 season's Elite Eight run.

The Gators will miss the NCAA Tournament this season for the first time since White’s first season at Florida. If Florida makes the NIT, the Gators plan on accepting the bid, with Al Pinkins serving as the team's interim head coach. 

“Mike White informed me this afternoon that he was accepting another job. It’s been a pleasure having Mike, Kira and the White family with us in Gainesville, and we wish them well," athletic director Scott Stricklin said in a release. "They are a wonderful family who always represented the Gators in a first-class manner.

“The search for the next Gator men’s basketball coach has already begun, and I look forward to identifying a leader who will embody the UAA’s vision of providing a championship experience with integrity.”

Georgia fired Tom Crean on Thursday

Georgia fired men’s basketball coach Tom Crean on Thursday after four seasons in which the program floundered in the SEC and never came close to cracking the NCAA tournament field.

The Bulldogs finished a program-worst 6-26 this season and in last place in the SEC with a 1-17 record. They lost 20 of their last 21 games, leaving little doubt that the school would make a change as the team stumbled to the most losses ever by an SEC team.

“We are extremely excited to welcome Mike White and his family to Athens,” said UGA athletic director Josh Brooks. “We have witnessed Coach White to be a leader of men, as well as a proven winner with an impressive postseason body of work. We want to compete for national success in all 21 of our sports, and we believe that he is the coach that can build Georgia Basketball to a consistent winner on the collegiate basketball landscape.”

UF had ups and downs all season

With senior forward Keyontae Johnson sidelined yet still on scholarship, the Gators entered the 2021-22 season short-handed with 12 available scholarship players, though early impressions were promising in spite of Johnson’s unavailability. 

For the first time since the 2012-13 season, the Gators opened the season with a 6-0 record, including wins at home against Florida State and at a neutral site against Ohio State, and UF soon found itself ranked at No. 12 in the Ferris Mowers men’s basketball coaches poll. 

Double-digit losses to Oklahoma and Texas Southern soon followed; at the time, TSU was winless in nine contests, though the Tigers did make the NCAA Tournament on Sunday after defeating Alcorn State in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament. 

The Gators would experience injury and illness — like many programs, health and safety protocols led to a postponement in late December — before dropping a trio of conference contests to begin SEC play.

Despite losing All-SEC second-team forward Colin Castleton for three weeks to a left-shoulder injury, UF would rebound and keep its hopes of making the NCAA Tournament alive, winning seven of its next nine contests, but Florida’s regular season would conclude with four losses over the final seven games.

Needing a win — or two — in the SEC Tournament, the Gators fought back from a 16-point deficit in the second round Thursday to Texas A&M but UF couldn’t defeat the Aggies in overtime.

Sitting outside the top-50 in the NET rankings, and with just three Quadrant 1 victories to their name in 13 contests, the Gators weren’t expected to make the NCAA Tournament, and Sunday’s announcement was simply confirmation.

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