After Florida’s season closed with an Elite Eight loss to South Carolina, athletic director Scott Stricklin revealed that he had been in talks with second-year coach Mike White about a contract extension.
White confirmed that he’s had discussions with Stricklin after guiding the Gators to a 27-9 record and the school’s ninth Elite Eight appearance in school history.
“We’ve had a lot of really positive conversations,” White said. “I’m very pleased with the outcomes of our conversations. I’m blessed to have his faith as a guy who inherits me”
Certainly, White earned that trust in his breakthrough second season with the Gators. Hired by former athletic director Jeremy Foley to replace icon Billy Donovan, White has guided the Gators to a 48-24 mark in his first two seasons. Only three coaches have won more games in their first two years at an SEC program — John Calipari (54, Kentucky, 2009-11), Tubby Smith (53, Kentucky, 1997-99) and Eddie Sutton (50, Kentucky, 1985-87).
White just completed the second-year of a six-year deal worth $12 million. He also received $100,000 in performance bonuses — $25,000 for winning AP SEC coach of the Year and $75,000 for reaching the Elite Eight.
White and Stricklin share Mississippi ties, with Stricklin being born in Jackson, Miss., and a former AD at Mississippi State. White, who played high school basketball in New Orleans, was a former point guard and assistant coach at rival Ole Miss.
Now, both are Gators and Stricklin appears ready to lock up White to a longer deal and bigger payday.
“I’m blessed because he didn’t hire me, but we’re very much aligned in terms of our visions for this program,” White said. “I think he’s wonderful for this athletic department and is going to do big things. I’m proud to work for him and with some of these other really talented coaches.”
Last offseason, Florida turned to sports psychologist Spencer Wood to help solve its free-throw shooting woes. It’s safe to say that Wood’s contributions and methods were successful. After finishing 12th in the SEC in free-throw shooting in 2015-16 at 64.7 percent, Florida jumped to sixth in the league at 72.9 percent in 2016-17. It was UF’s highest percentage from the line since shooting 74.4 percent in its national championship season in 2005-06 and first time over 70 percent from the line since shooting 71.3 percent in 2011-12.