The new year has been rough for Tennessee. Athletic director Philip Fulmer announced he will retire once the university finds his replacement. Football coach Jeremy Pruitt and nine other staff members were fired amid an internal investigation. Plus, a mass exodus of Volunteer football stars is underway. Thursday, however, brought much-needed good news to Rocky Top. UCF athletic director Danny White was named as Fulmer’s successor as athletic director in Knoxville.
“Danny White is an innovative leader in college athletics with a strong track record in recruiting and developing leaders. He brings the combination of winning attitude, competitive drive, and dedication to integrity and academics that we are looking for,” Tennessee chancellor Donde Plowman said. “We undertook this search with urgency and found strong interest from a robust candidate pool, enabling us to act quickly and with great confidence. I’m proud to say we found our leader, and I’d like to thank President Boyd, our trustees, and our staff for their support and hard work.”
His first order of business will be to hire a new football coach and stabilize a program that has had a rough go of it for more than a decade and could be facing NCAA sanctions when all is said and done.
White’s credentials speak for themselves. Since taking over at UCF in 2015, he has developed the Knights football program into one of the best in the Group of Five. The 2017 Knights went undefeated and won the Peach Bowl over Auburn under coach Scott Frost — who he hired prior to the 2016 season. Frost moved on to Nebraska but that winning streak remained intact under first-year coach Josh Heupel. The Knights ran the regular season table again before falling to LSU and Joe Burrow in the Fiesta Bowl.
UCF wasn’t his first foray into college football success. He hired Wisconsin-Whitewater coaching legend Lance Leipold — winner of six Division III national titles — to take over at Buffalo prior to the 2015 season. White moved on shortly thereafter, but Leipold has gone 37-33 with the Bulls including three straight bowl appearances and a 10-win season in 2018.
He also pegged Bobby Hurley to lead the Bulls men’s basketball for two seasons. They went 42-20 in two seasons before Hurley moved on to Arizona State. White then hired Nate Oats as Hurley’s replacement prior to the 2015 season. Oats went 93-46 and made the NCAA Tournament three times in four seasons before getting the job at Alabama.
“I am thrilled to be headed to Knoxville and to a university with a great competitive tradition and a spirited and devoted fan base,” White said. “Volunteer fans have an expectation to win, and my first task will be taking on the search for a new head football coach. But I want all Vols to know that I am deeply committed to excellence in all of our athletic programs.”
White is the brother of Florida men’s basketball coach Mike White and son of outgoing Duke athletic director Kevin White.
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