The University of Tennessee announced on Thursday afternoon that Central Florida’s Danny White will replace Phillip Fulmer as athletic director. A press conference will take place on Friday at 12:05 p.m. ET to introduce White.
White will make $1.8 million as athletic director with an annual increase of 5%, according to UT. That makes White the highest-paid AD in the SEC in terms of recurring annual pay and the fourth highest-paid public-school AD, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. The length of his contract has not yet been determined.
Tennessee’s new AD was making more than $1.1 million annually at UCF after signing a new five-year contract extension in March that included a bump in annual pay ($1,081,500) to make him the highest-paid AD at a public school in the state of Florida. UT now must pay his buyout of $2.5 million.
“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 in on Thursday in a statement released by Tennessee. “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 has guided UCF to an unprecedented amount of success since he arrived in Orlando in 2015. He hired two very successful head football coaches upon his arrival in Scott Frost and Josh Heupel.
Frost led UCF to a 6-7 record in his first year on the job and then 13-0 in year two before leaving to for his alma mater at Nebraska. Heupel came in and picked up right where Frost left off and has gone 28-8 in three seasons as head coach.
“Danny White is an innovative leader in college athletics with a strong track record in recruiting and developing leaders,” UT chancellor Donde Plowman said. “He brings the combination of winning attitude, competitive drive, and dedication to integrity and academics that we are looking for.”
“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.”
In addition to his hires, White has led a robust fundraising campaign and invested in marketing efforts that have bolstered the Knights’ brand awareness. He’s thought of as an excellent leader.
“Danny White is a great fit for the programs we are building at Tennessee,” UT System President Randy Boyd said. “He combines a strong vision for competitive excellence with a deep commitment to winning with integrity. The greatest decade in UT Athletics begins now.”
During his time with the school, UCF’s football program posted a 41-8 record. UCF won a school-record 25 straight games which included back-to-back American Athletic Conference championships, consecutive appearances in New Year’s Six Access Bowl games and a win over auburn in the 2017 Peach Bowl.
The men’s and women’s basketball programs also made appearances NCAA Tournament during White’s tenure, with the men earning the first tournament win in school history and the women the program’s first at-large bid.
He has posted school fundraising records for annual gifts received and commitments, including $31.7 million in 2019, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Those efforts contributed to several new construction projects in the athletic department.