How athletic directors handle head coaching searches is one of the more interesting aspects of collegiate athletics. With the rise of search firms, some lean upon those outlets to not only establish connections but also narrow down the field of possible candidates for the opening.
But not all athletic directors use firms to do the legwork, either doing the work themselves or with the aid of a committee consisting of others within the athletic department and school community. Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley had a committee to help him through the process following Billy Donovan’s decision to take the Oklahoma City Thunder job, but this search began to take shape even before Donovan made the move.
Chris Harry of Gatorzone.com (the school’s official athletics website) wrote a story breaking down the entire process that led to Foley offering the job to then-Louisiana Tech head coach Michael White.
Even with season-ending injuries to reigning MVP Kevin Durant and defensive whiz Serge Ibaka, rumors that OKC coach Scott Brooks’ job was in jeopardy had been circulating for months and that Donovan, with his brilliant offensive acumen, would be attractive replacement. Thunder general manager Sam Presti, along with his metrics analyst Oliver Winterbone, who served from 2010-14 as Donovan’s video coordinator, had visited Gainesville in February and attended Gators practices, shoot-arounds and a couple games.
They likely weren’t there four days to scout Chris Walker.
The Thunder’s regular season ended April 15, as the team missed the playoffs via a tiebreaker with the New Orleans Pelicans. Speculation immediately amped regarding Brooks’ job, which meant the Gators further readied their just-in-case list of coaches in the likely event OKC came after Donovan.
The full story of how Florida made its decision can be read here.