New UF coach White 9th highest-paid in SEC

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Florida has gone from employing one of the highest-paid men’s basketball coaches in the Southeastern Conference, to one of the lower-paid coaches in the league.

New Florida men’s basketball coach Michael White, who will be introduced on Monday, is the ninth-highest paid coach in the conference, according to reported contracts throughout the league.

Here’s a look at the list:

1. John Calipari, Kentucky, $7.5 million

2. Avery Johnson, Alabama, $2.83 million

3. Bruce Pearl, Auburn, $2.75 million

4. Rick Barnes, Tennessee, $2.25 mllion

t5. Kevin Stallings, Vanderbilt, $2.2 million

t5. Mike Anderson, Arkansas, $2.2 million

7. Frank Martin, South Carolina, $2.1 millom

8. Ben Howland, Mississippi State, $2.05 million

9. Michael White, Florida, $2 million

10. Andy Kennedy, Ole Miss, $1.925 million

11. Mark Fox, Georgia, $1.7 milliom

12. Johnny Jones, LSU, $1.5 million

13. Kim Anderson, Missouri, $1.2 million

14. Billy Kennedy, Texas A&M, $1.1 million

Sporting News college basketball senior columnist Mike DeCourcy speculated whether Florida was going for a discount in hiring the 38-year-old White, rather than pursuing Dayton’s Archie Miller or Xavier’s Chris Mack, who would have likely demanded salaries between $2.5-$3 million. But Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley insisted that White was UF’s first and only target in the search process.

Billy Donovan left UF as the second-highest paid coach in the SEC (and fifth highest-paid coach in the country) at $4 million per season. Donovan, of course, earned every penny by leading UF to two national titles, four Final Fours and 14 NCAA Tournament appearances in 19 seasons. Donovan’s salary steadily increased from $1.7 million in 2003 to $3.5 million in 2007 (after leading UF to two national titles and returning from the Orlando Magic), t0 $4 million this past season.

Other notes:

— White, of course, has a big task ahead in replacing Donovan. But one area where White has shown a better acumen than Donovan is winning close games. White is 25-6 in his coaching career in games decided by 5 points or less and 92-1 when holding a lead at the five-minute mark. Donovan left UF 71-85 in games decided by 5 or less. The Gators, though, were 13-8 in games decided by 5 points or less over Donovan’s last two seasons, including 6-7 this past season.

— Former Kentucky coach Joe B. Hall thinks that White will face a tougher challenge replacing Donovan than he did replacing Adolph Rupp because the passion for basketball isn’t as great at Florida compared to Kentucky. “Basketball ruled in Kentucky and you had the support of the administration, the fans, the faculty, the community, everybody wanted to see Kentucky do well,” Hall said. “And I don’t think Billy had that kind of support at Florida. Two national championships back-to-back he should have been king. And this was a school that hardly recognized the success they were having. And I think Billy Donovan is a super coach and a better person. He deserves whatever he got and he’ll keep on receiving whatever he does in life.” Donovan insisted that pushing back the $60 million O’Connell Center renovation project did not factor into his decision to leave Florida for the Oklahoma City Thunder. And I’ve written before about UF’s fickle fan support of the program given what Donovan accomplished. But generating a fanbase is a two-way street. It’s fair to say Donovan made a few mistakes, like discontinuing Midnight Madness after 2006, not holding banner raising ceremonies after Final Four/National Championship seasons or not holding open preseason scrimmages. It will be interesting to see if White considers bringing Midnight Madness back or holding an open intra-squad scrimmage to generate some buzz before the season starts. Just a suggestion, coach.