Dr. Daniel White, recently ranked the fourth best athletic director in the country by Stadium, will become the new athletic director at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Chancellor Donde Plowman announced Thursday.
She said, "His consistent record of transforming college athletic programs to win championships, drive growth, and achieve success, have made him a rising star in college athletics.
“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."
UT officials said earlier that Phil Fulmer was stepping aside and that the new AD would pick the next Tennessee football coach.
Commenting on his appointment, Danny White said, “I am thrilled to be headed to Knoxville and to a university with a great competitive tradition and a spirited and devoted fan base. 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.”
The University of Central Florida website says this about Danny White:
Danny White’s tenure as vice president and director of athletics at UCF has featured unprecedented success in competition, the classroom and the community since he took over
the Knights’ programs late in 2015.
UCF’s football excellence includes a record 25-game win streak through the 2018 regular season (and eventually a 28-game regular-season streak), a second straight American Athletic Conference title-game victory that same year and a second consecutive New Year’s Six bowl appearance. Josh Heupel’s squad, in his first year as head coach, finished eighth in the final 2018 College Football Playoff standings.
In 2019 the Knights followed that up with a 10-3 campaign, capped by a 48-25 Gasparilla Bowl victory over Marshall—in UCF’s record fourth straight season playing in a bowl game. Heupel’s squad finished 24th in the final Associated Press and Amway coaches polls.
In 2018-19 both the UCF men’s and women’s basketball squads merited NCAA Championship invitations—with Johnny Dawkins’ men’s team defeating VCU and then nearly upsetting number-one seed Duke in the second round. CBS Sports ranked the Knights’ 2018-19 across-the-board athletic performance 17th best in the country.
UCF’s football program went from winless in 2015 to six victories and a bowl game appearance in 2016, White’s first full year in Orlando. The Knights improved even more in 2017, finishing the season as the only undefeated team in the nation and claiming a national championship. UCF ended 13-0 in that 2017 season, capping the incredible year with a 34-27 victory over seventh-ranked Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
Both the UCF men’s and women’s basketball teams completed stunning turnarounds under head coaches White hired shortly after his arrival at UCF. Dawkins and Katie Abrahamson-Henderson both led their teams to 20-win seasons in 2016-17 and the best AAC finish in both programs’ history. Abrahamson-Henderson followed that with another improvement in conference finish and the first back-to-back postseason berths in program history. The UCF baseball program also turned in a stellar 2017 season, winning the AAC regular-season title and advancing to the NCAA Championship for the first time since 2012--all under another White hire, Greg Lovelady.
The 2019-20 athletic year at UCF also included an AAC regular-season crown and NCAA Sweet 16 appearance by men’s soccer, an ACC title in volleyball (and second-round NCAA appearance)—plus stunning starts in baseball (15-3 record, number eight in the RPI) and softball (21-5-1, number seven in the RPI) before the coronavirus cut those seasons short.
UCF was the only NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision program that had each of its sports produce winning records (among the 10 Knights sports with win-loss records) in 2017-18, 2018-19 and in the COVID-shortened 2019-20 athletic year. In 2017-18 UCF joined Florida State, Oklahoma State and Texas in accomplishing that feat—but the Knights were the only program to repeat that distinction for even one more year in 2018-19. That level of success earned UCF 29th place in the final 2019 fall sports standings of the NACDA Learfield IMG College Directors’ Cup, the last release of those standings before the coronavirus hit.
White’s departmental successes have earned him numerous awards--as a Sports Business Journal 40 Under 40 winner in multiple years, a spot on the Orlando Business Journal 40 Under 40 list, multiple selections as one of the 50 Most Powerful People in Orlando by Orlando Magazine and
a finalist for the 2018 SBJ Athletics Director of the Year honor. He was named a NACDA Under Armour Athletics Director of the Year in the spring of 2019. In 2018 SBJ named him one of the six most influential people in sports business, while Orlando Magazine tabbed him as the area’s most powerful person in sports. In 2020 Stadium rated White number four nationally on its list of athletics directors--based on the combined success of his coaching hires in football and men’s basketball.
White already has seen numerous game-changing gift commitments made to UCF athletics—as the Knights in fiscal year 2020 produced record numbers of gifts received and overall commitments. The $35.5 million in 2020 commitments was more than four times what UCF raised just four years earlier.
Since he was hired White has combined with his championship resources and facilities staffs to create virtually a complete makeover of the UCF athletics footprint. To start, in February 2017 Ken Dixon committed more than $5 million to UCF athletics, representing the largest cash pledge in history to UCF by an alumnus. In recognition of that gift, UCF named the 95-acre area that houses most of UCF’s athletics facilities the Kenneth G. Dixon Athletics Village.
White also was instrumental in a $1.5 million gift commitment from John Euliano that helped fund a renovation of the UCF baseball complex, now known as John Euliano Park. Bob Garvy committed $1 million toward the development of the Garvy Center for Student-Athlete Nutrition. The Knights in 2020-21 begin use of the Roth Athletics Center, housing athletics administration, new team space for men’s and women’s soccer and expanded football team and operational space.
In addition, White established the UCF Football Excellence Fund in 2017. That initiative has raised more than $5 million in commitments pledged over five years in an effort to sustain and continue to improve upon the success of the Knights’ program. Following that success came the UCF Basketball Excellence Fund in 2018 and the Shareholders Society, a new major gifts program, also in 2018.
Since White’s arrival the Knights have made major improvements to the football game day locker room and opened a redone multi-sport weight room, the Gault-Kohn Performance Center. Future plans include an upgrade to the Wayne Densch Sports Center to include an expanded south entry atrium, plus interior renovations and upgrades. Also on the drawing board is an on-campus tennis practice facility and the Basketball Excellence Center which will be an overhaul of The Venue, that also serves as home to UCF’s volleyball program.
Under White’s leadership UCF captured the imagination of the college sports world in establishing its unique relationship with Walt Disney World Resort that provides annual access to Disney for all Knights’ student-athletes—as well as plans for McNamara Cove, an aquatic recovery facility, lazy river and pool adjacent to Spectrum Stadium that will double as a year-round hospitality venue.
UCF played host to ESPN College GameDay for the first time during the 2018 football season—and 247Sports rated Knights’ home games fourth nationally in terms of home stadium experiences (as listed for 2019, behind only Alabama, Clemson and Georgia). Meanwhile, the Knights’ Fiesta Bowl meeting with LSU marked the 13th most-watched college game (8.471 million viewers) in 2018. White also has played a key role in the marketing campaign to advance UCF as “Orlando’s Hometown Team.”
Other highlights in White’s initial years at UCF include the athletics department bringing its multimedia rights and corporate partnerships in house and an extended and improved apparel and shoe agreement with Nike. UCF also has sold naming rights both for its football field and basketball court. The Knights in 2019 for the first time sold out their allotment of football season tickets at Spectrum Stadium, creating a waiting list and prompting potential stadium expansion plans.
In the classroom, UCF teams have combined for 25 consecutive semesters (through the 2020 spring semester) with a 3.0 grade-point average or better. A UCF-record 253 Knights earned spots on the 2019 AAC All-Academic Team—and the UCF volleyball and rowing squads were designated as the top performing academic teams in their sports by the league.
A perfect 1000 score for the UCF women's soccer team led the way in another impressive performance by Knights athletic squads in the 2020 NCAA Academic Progress Rate data. The women's soccer program also earned an NCAA Public Recognition Award for ranking in the top 10 percent of APR for their sports. Five UCF programs--men's golf, women’s golf, women’s soccer, women's tennis and volleyball--had single-year scores of 1000 for 2017-18. A record nine Knight programs had single-year 1000 APR scores from the previous year and 10 produced all-time highs for that sport at UCF.
In addition, Knight student-athletes continue to set annual records for community service involvement in the greater Orlando area, in great part through various UCF Student-Athlete Welfare and Development programs.
White was named vice president and director of athletics at UCF on Nov. 18, 2015--and he began his tenure in Orlando on Dec. 14, 2015.
Regarded as one of the nation’s most talented young athletic directors when he came to UCF from the State University of New York at Buffalo, White served as director of athletics from May 2012 through December 2015. He brought a strong record of success in competition and in the classroom to UCF.
A former college basketball player and New Orleans native, White quickly ascended in the ranks of college athletics leadership. Prior to his role as athletics director at Buffalo, he was senior associate athletics director at the University of Mississippi from 2009-12. He previously served two years as associate athletics director for development at California State University-Fresno (2007-09) and one as assistant athletics director for development at Northern Illinois University (2006-07).
He played college basketball at Towson University and the University of Notre Dame and was director of operations and assistant coach for one season each with the Ohio University men’s basketball team.
During his tenure in Buffalo, White worked with athletics administrators, coaches and staff to transform the Bulls’ program and culture, shattering previous school records for student-athlete GPAs, NCAA Championship berths, fundraising and football ticket sales.
During White’s three years at Buffalo, he, his colleagues and the Bulls’ student-athletes raised the program’s profile in the community and nationally:
White is a 2002 graduate of the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He earned master’s degrees in both business administration and sports administration from Ohio University. He completed a doctorate degree in higher education from the University of Mississippi in 2016.
White comes from a family deeply involved in intercollegiate athletics. His father, Kevin, is vice president and director of athletics at Duke University (and previously held that same role at the University of Notre Dame, Arizona State University, Tulane University, the University of Maine and Loras College). His brother, Michael, is the head men’s basketball coach at the University of Florida. His brother, Brian, is the vice president and director of athletics at Florida Atlantic University. His sister, Mariah, is the assistant athletics director for administration at SMU.
Danny and his wife, Shawn, have four children: Aidan, Molly, Caitlin and James.
- Buffalo teams, including men’s basketball, earned three NCAA Championship bids in 2014-15, compared with just one in the prior 15 years. Buffalo student-athletes recorded an average GPA of at least 3.0 for seven consecutive semesters. Prior to White’s arrival, the average GPA had never exceeded 3.0 in any semester.
- Financial support for Buffalo athletics reached an all-time high, with the number of donors increasing by 137 percent since the start of a membership campaign in 2013.
- Buffalo shattered its football attendance records in 2013 after adding interactive opportunities for fans, including a tailgate concert series with nationally known artists.
- The state’s largest public university and the flagship of the SUNY system, Buffalo for the first time adopted a radio network that spanned the entire state.