Cam Newbauer steps down as women's basketball coach at UF, interim to run team in upcoming season

Graham Hall
UF basketball writer
Florida women's basketball coach Cam Newbauer steps down.

Florida women’s basketball coach Cam Newbauer resigned Friday due to personal reasons, the school announced in a news release.

Gators athletic director Scott Stricklin named Kelly Rae Finley interim head coach for the 2021-22 season following Newbauer’s decision to step down, which comes less than six weeks after the program announced a three-year contract extension for Newbauer, who was hired from Belmont University following the departure of previous coach Amanda Butler. 

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"Being the head coach of the University of Florida women's basketball team has been the honor of a lifetime," Newbauer said. "After much reflection, my family and I have come to the difficult decision to step away. Gator Nation and the Gainesville community have accepted me, my wife Sarah and our three daughters from the day we arrived. We will greatly miss all of the people that have made our experience and make this place so special. There are many people who I am forever grateful for, but I especially want to thank all of the players who I had the privilege to coach. I have no doubt that the program we built is poised for great success."

Newbauer's departure from the program came two days after leading scorer Lavender Briggs entered her name in the NCAA’s transfer portal. A former five-star prospect and UF’s leading scorer during the 2020-21 season with 20.5 points, Briggs was an All-SEC selection last season but the Gators finished with a losing record and once again missed the NCAA Tournament. UF managed 12 wins last season before falling to Villanova in the second round of the WNIT.

"We wish all the best to Cam and Sarah and their family," Stricklin said. "We appreciate their efforts during their time here, and we know Cam worked incredibly hard for the Gators and brought a high level of energy to the job.

"During Kelly's four years here at Florida, she has been well-respected within the women's basketball program and throughout the UAA, and we're fortunate to have her step in and lead our young women."

Kelly Rae Finley has been named interim head coach and will fill that role for the 2021-22 season, Athletic Director Scott Stricklin announced Friday.

Finley, 36, has spent the last five seasons at Florida, including the prior two as assistant head coach under Newbauer. She served as head coach for three games last season after Newbauer missed a short stint due to health and safety protocols. Finley previously worked at Arizona (2016-17), Colorado (2012-16) and Harvard (2008-12).

Newbauer posted a 46-71 overall record and failed to finish above .500 in any season. The Gators were 15-47 against SEC competition in his four-year tenure.

The Gators extended Newbauer, 43, through the 2024-25 season without a pay raise. Newbauer had one season remaining on a five-year deal paying him $500,000 annually.