GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Fresh off leading the Florida basketball program to the Elite Eight, Gators coach Mike White acknowledged he and athletic director Scott Stricklin have had conversations regarding the school’s commitment to him moving forward.
In the second season of a six-year contract that pays him an average annual salary of $2 million, White led the Gators to a 27-9 record while coming up just short of the Final Four.
That contract is structured with retention and performance bonuses, including a $25,000 bonus achieved for being named the AP SEC Coach of the Year and a $75,000 bonus for reaching the Elite Eight.
“Scott and I have had conversation. I’ll let Scott fill you in. We’ve had a lot of really positive conversation. I’m very pleased with the outcomes of our conversations,” White said Tuesday. “I’m blessed to have his faith as a guy who inherits me. I’m blessed because he didn’t hire me, but we’re very much aligned in terms of our visions for this program. I think he’s going to be wonderful for this athletic department, he’s going to do big things. I’m proud to work for him and with some of these other really talented coaches. Obviously, really, really happy to be at Florida.”
White was hired by former Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley, who was a leading proponent in having Stricklin, formerly the AD at Mississippi State, succeed him upon his retirement last fall.
White came to Florida after a four-year run of success at Louisiana Tech, and after going 21-15 in his first season with the Gators while missing the NCAA Tournament, he put his stamp on the program this season.
Florida finished second in the SEC during the regular season and advanced to the Elite Eight on a buzzer-beating 3-point from guard Chris Chiozza to defeat Wisconsin in overtime at Madison Square Garden. The Gators then lost 77-70 to South Carolina in a game that was tight the entire second half.
White, whose father Kevin is the athletic director at Duke, received a phone call from legendary Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski soon after that season-ending loss.
“Right when I got on the bus after we lost to South Carolina, Coach Krzyzewski called as I was sitting on the bus,” he said. “We talked actually for a while as we rode to the airport. He was very, very supportive and it’s always very educational of course. You always try to soak in whatever he gives you. That was pretty neat.”
After returning back to Gainesville from New York City, White got in some vacation time last week in Melbourne, Fla., he said.
But he hasn’t had all that much time to reflect on the significance of the step he and his program took this year.
“I mean, it’s exciting. I’m excited for our guys on our staff. I’m excited for our program. I feel better about our program than I did a year ago, of course,” he said. “You know, if we weren’t confident that we can get it done, we wouldn’t have come. It’s a great job, it’s a great place. We thought it was going to happen. Is it a little extra neat that it happened pretty quickly? Yeah. It’s pretty cool. Going to the Elite Eight is pretty cool, considering the fact that I hadn’t been to the tournament. It’s pretty cool, not going to lie.
“(But) I guess you just don’t have time to have a party and toast to it. It’s, heck, we’re recruiting a hundred guys and Kasey (Hill) and Devin (Robinson are) gone and you never know what’s going to happen. You might have a guy come in and want to transfer in two weeks. You just never know. Recruiting 2018s, (executive associate athletic director) Mike Hill is working on scheduling and who we’re going to scrimmage, and meeting with all these guys. I’m sure it’ll sink in at some point this spring, when you find a 3-4 day weekend to get away. Looking back, ‘That’s pretty neat.’ We’re in a good spot, but we’ve got to capitalize.”