NY-goodbye: UB Athletic Director Danny White takes job at UCF
Move to larger athletics program long expected for A.D.
Athletic Director Danny White is leaving UB to accept the A.D. job at the University of Central Florida.
After several media reports Tuesday that White had been hired, UCF officially announced White as its new athletic director Wednesday. Calls to White’s cell phone were not returned Tuesday.
“I am excited to join the UCF family, and my goals include building on our outstanding academic accomplishments and making UCF a national leader known for competitive excellence,” White said in a statement released by UCF. “We will become one of the nation’s premier destinations for coaches and student-athletes, and we will excite our student body, staff and faculty, alumni and the Central Florida community.”
White tweeted Wednesday that he will miss working with "so many wonderful people" at UB, but he was looking forward to leading UCF.
The move ends White’s at times successful and at times controversial three-year tenure after he was hired as athletic director at the age of 32 in May of 2012.
The Spectrum approached several UB officials at the women's basketball game Tuesday night, including President Satish Tripathi, but all declined comment about White as the news had not been made official. On Wednesday, Tripathi sent out a letter about White's departure.
"While we will all be sorry to see Danny and his family go, I know I speak for our entire UB community - and Bulls fans everywhere - in wishing him much continued success, and in expressing my deep appreciation for his achievements and contributions as UB Director of Athletics since his arrival in 2012," Tripathi said in the letter.
Tripathi said he expects to share more details about UB's search for a new athletic director in the coming weeks.
UB Athletics did not officially comment Tuesday, but an athletics spokesperson, who could not confirm or deny the reports at that time, said White’s work at UB during the past three years shows why he’s been considered for larger job openings.
White signed a five-year contract extension through 2019 with UB last fall in order to show “commitment to the Buffalo community and this university,” he told The Spectrum at that time. White was the highest paid athletic director in the Mid-American Conference in the 2013-14 fiscal year with a pay of $301,625, according to USA Today.
White’s original contract included $75,000 to assist with relocation expenses, which he owed back to UB if he voluntarily ended his employment before June 3, 2017.
UCF plays in the American Athletic Conference and has a larger athletics budget than UB. The upward move up for White has been long expected since the A.D. arrived in 2012, as his youth, success, aggressive strategies and family connections in college athletics have made him a hot name for larger jobs.
UCF’s athletics leadership has underwent several changes recently, with former athletic director Todd Stansbury leaving for Oregon State and interim athletic director George O’Leary stepping down and retiring from coaching last month.
The university’s football team is currently winless (0-10) and saw a $1 million drop-off in ticket sales, according to the Orlando Sentinel. White is expected to help UCF bring in donations and find its next football head coach, two areas he had success with at UB.
White was able to hire Division-III football coaching legend Lance Leipold and the department has seen record donations to the Blue and White Fund during White’s tenure.
Buffalo won a total of three team MAC Championships under White, including the men’s basketball team’s first-ever conference title and NCAA Tournament appearance last season. He also brought improvements to the football game day atmosphere, including the recently opened Edmond J. Gicewicz Club in UB Stadium and the creation of the Tailgate Concert Series.
The Bulls have ranked first and second, respectively, in the MAC in attendance in 2013 and 2014.
But White’s tenure may be most remembered for the rebranding that has occurred across the entire athletics department.
In what was a controversial move for some, White rebranded UB Athletics through the New York Bulls Initiative, or NYBI, to emphasize UB’s standing as the largest public university in the SUNY system. UB Athletics’ logo, jerseys, football field and basketball court now prominently feature the words “New York” as opposed to “Buffalo,” which some in the local community opposed.
White would often tweet with #NYBI and said UB was building “America’s next big-time college athletics brand.”
Bulls fans had mixed reactions on social media Tuesday about White leaving, with some appreciating the work he’s done and others saying they are glad he’s gone and questioning if UB will drop the NYBI movement.
White was unafraid of making coaching changes. White fired eight coaches, all of whom were at UB before he arrived in 2012. His most memorable and perhaps controversial firings were of men’s basketball head coach Reggie Witherspoon and head football coach Jeff Quinn.
Many in the local community disagreed with White’s decision to fire Witherspoon, who had coached UB for 14 years. White fired Quinn during the middle of the 2014 season, but only after extending Quinn’s contract in 2012 when the coach’s UB record was just 9-26.
White’s biggest hire was Duke legend and NCAA all-time assist leader Bobby Hurley in 2013. Hurley was successful in leading the men’s basketball team to the NCAA Tournament last season, but left for Arizona State in April after contract extension talks between him and White fell apart.
The two no longer follow each other on Twitter.
White often spoke of raising donations for a field house on campus and released a facilities master plan in 2014 with such a facility, but he will leave UB without completing the goal. UB remains the only school in the MAC without a field house or set plans to build one.
White does have some connections to UCF and Florida. White’s father is Duke Athletic Director Kevin White, who hired O’Leary at Notre Dame when was he was the university’s A.D. in 2001. But O’Leary resigned five days later after inaccuracies in his résumé came to light. White is the brother of Michael White, the head men’s basketball coach at Florida University.
UCF will hold a press conference to introduce White on Thursday at 10:45 a.m.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to include new information.