UCF athletic director Danny White leaves for Tennessee

Move comes days after UT fired head football coach Jeremy Pruitt

FILE - In this Nov. 2, 2019, file photo, Central Florida athletic director Danny White stands on the sideline at the team's NCAA college football game against Houston in Orlando, Fla. White has signed a five-year contract that will pay him more than $1 million annually. (AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr., File) (Willie J. Allen Jr., Copyight 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – UCF athletic director Danny White is leaving for the same position at the University of Tennessee.

The hiring comes three days after Tennessee fired football coach Jeremy Pruitt and parted with athletics director Philip Fulmer.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that White’s current UCF contract pays him about $1 million a year and includes a $2.5 million buyout that would be owed to the school if he accepted another job before May.

White is perhaps best known nationally for marketing UCF as national champions in football in 2017 after the Knights finished 13-0 but failed to be selected for the playoff.

Banks released a statement Thursday confirming the move. Read his full statement below.

“While I am very excited about the opportunity to become the next Director of Athletics at the University of Tennessee, this was an excruciatingly difficult decision for us as we have absolutely loved our time here at UCF.

As I stated when I took the job, our goal was to become one of the nation’s premier destinations for coaches and student-athletes. I also had a goal to excite our student body, staff and faculty, alumni and the Central Florida community. With the tremendous support of our student-athletes, coaches, staff, donors, students and all of Knight Nation, we certainly accomplished those goals. I want to especially thank all of our Shareholders Society members who really stepped up over the past five years to help us build a monster Athletics Department.

I’d like to thank President John Hitt for giving me the opportunity to come to UCF, President Dale Whittaker and Interim President Thad Seymour for all of their support, and, obviously, President Alex Cartwright. Under Alex’s leadership, the future is very bright at UCF. It was extremely difficult to tell Alex that I was leaving as he is a tremendous leader and friend. UCF is definitely in great hands, and I look forward to watching continued success of this phenomenal University. The White family will always be Knight fans!”

UCF President Alexander Cartwright issued a statement to Knight Nation about White’s departure on Thursday, reflecting on what he called “five years of record-breaking success in the classroom, in competition and in fundraising at UCF” for White.

“I will personally miss working closely with Danny. Danny will leave UCF with incredible momentum and a strong foundation for success, including a culture of innovation and winning with integrity and strengthening UCF’s national reputation well beyond the sports world,” Cartwright said in a news release. “I am committed to working with all of you to build on our momentum to achieve sustained excellence in competition, in the classroom and beyond.”

UCF’s accomplishments during the past five years include the following, according to the release:

  • UCF’s student-athletes have earned an overall GPA of at least 3.2 for eight consecutive semesters and at least 3.0 for 26 consecutive semesters. A record 302 student-athletes from UCF were selected to the 2019-20 American Athletic Conference All-Academic Team.
  • Every UCF team competing in head-to-head sports posted a winning record the past three seasons, and we are the only program in the country to accomplish that feat. UCF’s football team won a national championship and played in two New Year’s Six bowls. The men’s and women’s basketball teams earned NCAA tournament bids in 2019, and every team has been ranked in the top 25 at some point during the past five years.
  • UCF Athletics raised more than $35.5 million in gift commitments and $17.4 million in cash gifts during 2019-2020. Both numbers were records … and, more importantly, a testament to your generosity.

Cartwright said UCF will begin a nationwide search for a new athletic director immediately.

“I am certain that we will attract premier candidates who are eager to work alongside our talented coaches and athletics staff and who share our commitment to our student-athletes’ success in the classroom and preparing them well for careers after they graduate,” Cartwright said. “And I know they will also be excited about joining our fans in Knight Nation, just as I was when I became president!”