SportsCollege SportsUniversity of Florida


Gators to host Iona without Mike White, who left for Georgia

Florida earns No. 3 seed in NIT on same day coach spurns school for rival Bulldogs
Mike White watches from sideline of 2022 SEC Tournament in what turned out to be his final game with Florida Gators
Posted at 10:58 PM, Mar 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-13 23:01:00-04

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — On the same day the Gators learned the men's basketball team was headed for the National Invitational Tournament, they also learned that their head coach won't be going with them.

Mike White announced Sunday that he's leaving Florida to take the open job at Southeastern Conference rival Georgia.

"We are extremely excited to welcome Mike White and his family to Athens," Georgia athletic director Josh Brooks said in announcing the hire. "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."

White, 45, takes over a team that went 47-75 in four seasons under Tom Crean, including a 6-26 record this season.

Georgia Bulldogs head coach Tom Crean calls play during 2022 SEC Tournament
Georgia head coach Tom Crean calls a play against Vanderbilt during the first half of a game at the Southeastern Conference Tournament, Wednesday, March 9, 2022, in Tampa, Fla.

Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin said White informed him in the afternoon that he had accepted the Georgia job.

"It's been a pleasure having Mike, (wife) Kira and the White family with us in Gainesville, and we wish them well," Stricklin said. "They are a wonderful family who always represented the Gators in a first-class manner."

Hired by former Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley in 2015 to replace two-time national champion coach Billy Donovan, White led the Gators to a 142-88 record and four NCAA tournament appearances in seven seasons in Gainesville.

The Gators never had a losing campaign under White but failed to win at least 20 games for the third straight season -- the longest such stretch at Florida since the end of Donovan's second season in 1998.

White was also 1-6 against rival Florida State in his career, finally defeating the Seminoles 71-55 in November after dropping the first six meetings.

The Gators (19-13, 9-9 SEC) effectively ended their chances of making the NCAA tournament this season after losing five of their last eight games, including an 83-80 overtime loss to Texas A&M on a buzzer beater in the second round of the SEC Tournament.

Florida Gators head coach Mike White yells to his players, Feb. 22, 2022
Florida head coach Mike White yells to his team against Arkansas during the first half Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022, in Gainesville, Fla.

Although the Gators didn't earn an NCAA tournament bid, they settled for a No. 3 seed in the NIT and will host Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular-season champion Iona on Wednesday at 9 p.m.

Associate head coach Al Pinkins will serve as interim head coach for Florida.

Florida was 11-3 against the Bulldogs under White, who was gracious in his words about the school he's leaving behind.

"Thank you to each and every one of our current and former players," White said in a statement released by Georgia. "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."

Stricklin said the search for the next head coach "has already begun."