It was a day that was bound to happen: UCF athletic director Danny White accepted the athletic director position at the University of Tennessee. With White moving on to Knoxville, the Knights are looking for their next athletic director. Who will be coming to Orlando? Only time will tell. Below is a list of potential candidates.
Brian White, the brother of Danny White, comes from a family with a pedigree in being an athletic director. Danny’s accomplishments at UCF are well documented, but his father, Kevin, is the athletic director at Duke and will be retiring after being AD at a variety of schools since 1982. His sister, Mariah Chappell, is an associate AD at SMU. His other brother, Mike, is the head basketball coach at Florida.
White has been AD at FAU since 2018. Ironically enough, during White’s tenure, FAU created premium field cabana seating areas similar to what UCF started under Danny. The Owls athletic department as a whole reached new academic success by earning cumulative a 3.0 GPA for the fourth consecutive year. Also, White helped create positive buzz and improved results in multiple sports, including football, men’s basketball, and golf. There are definitely some parallels with what the White brothers have done at their respective schools. White even worked under new UCF president Alexander Cartwright prior to coming to FAU.
The big question here is, does Brian really want to follow in Danny’s footsteps at UCF and be compared to his brother?
Perhaps UCF keeps it internal and goes with Carr, who was brought in by Danny White on Feb 9, 2016 to be the Executive Associate Athletic Director/CMO. He was promoted to Deputy AD for Brand Activation in April 2018.
He has oversight of all external units, including Brand Advancement, Strategic Communications and Video Services, as well as being heavily involved in revenue generation. Prior to his tenure at UCF, Carr served as Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Affairs at Auburn University.
White leaving UCF for Tennessee was like Andrew Friedman leaving the Rays for the Los Angeles Dodgers, because he did all he can do with Rays with restraints and had an opportunity with the Dodgers with more resources. The Rays decided to keep it in-house with Matthew Silverman, who had the same philosophy as Friedman, and kept the Rays’ success going. Perhaps Carr can be UCF’s version of Silverman.
1st @Fiesta_Bowl season was my 1st year @UCFKnights We had 3K donors,much fewer season ticket-holders & just 7 @UCF_CR charitable major gift donors.Congrats to @UCFALUMNI @Varsity_Knights @UCF_Football fans for growing with us.Nice to become known as UCF rather than C. Florida. pic.twitter.com/4t7uQMAsyr— Mark Wright (@UCFMW) August 8, 2020
Mark Wright, who is also a Deputy AD and oversees the development and fundraising department for UCF Athletics, could also be right there with Carr as an internal candidate. Wright has been at UCF since May 2013 and has been a valuable part of UCF’s growth in raising money and donations to UCF.
A name that would have been perhaps the No. 1 internal candidate if he was still at UCF is Dr. Eric Wood, who just left for the AD job at Louisiana Tech on October 23rd after 5 years at UCF as Deputy AD for Competitive Excellence. While it could be awkward, do not be surprised if internally there is a push to bring Wood back to UCF.
Lassiter has UCF ties, serving for three years under Athletic Director Todd Stansbury, where he was a member of the athletics executive management team, overseeing brand management, ticket sales and operations, marketing, promotions, communications, licensing and merchandising. UCF was recognized as the top athletic department in the country for customer service while Lassiter was at UCF.
Currently Lassiter oversees all external units, including marketing, communications, ticket sales, and ideation as well as partnerships with Beaver Sports Properties, Nike, and the Pac-12 Network. Lassiter also serves as the sports supervisor for men’s basketball and women’s soccer.
A dark horse perhaps is Nunez, who became AD at New Mexico on August 31, 2017, after spending 14 years as Deputy AD at LSU. Nunez was involved in fundraising with LSU and has continued that at New Mexico.
Nunez has ties to the state of Florida as a native of Miami. He received his Associate Degree in arts and architecture from Miami-Dade Community College, and his Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Management and a Master’s Degree in Sports Administration from the University of Florida, where he played Basketball for Billy Donovan from 1997-1998.
Nunez is considered in the industry as a rising star.
Since Baker’s arrival at North Texas in 2016, he has been aggressive in building North Texas athletics. Baker unveiled a new five-year strategic plan, developed a new master facilities plan, launched construction on two new athletic facilities and renovated seven others. In all, almost $50 million in facilities investment has occurred at North Texas under him.
Baker came over from Missouri where was the Deputy Director of Athletics in 2015 after serving in a similar role at Memphis from 2013-2015. At Missouri he assisted the athletic director with all aspects of administration, including head coaching searches in football and baseball. His good work at Missouri - alongside UCF’s current President Alexander Cartwright - led him to becoming the AD at North Texas in 2016.
Maggard has been the AD at Louisiana since 2017 after spending 21 years at the University of Missouri, where he served as the Tigers’ Executive Associate Athletic Director. Maggard has helped raise money and built success with Louisiana athletics across the board, and hired Billy Napier, who is one of hottest football head coaching prospects in college football. Prior to Missouri, Maggard worked at Florida State and Kansas State, overseeing the academic support services for the Seminole and Wildcat football programs.
Neff has been at Clemson for eight years under Director of Athletics Dan Radakovich. Neff has a good background in the financial landscape of college athletics finances, having overseen more than $200 million in capital projects, and assisted in the negotiation of several high-value contracts and helped shape Clemson’s athletic department physically, operationally and financially. Neff was named one of Sports Business Daily’s Power Players in 2019.
Hill has ties to the state of Florida, having spent 25 years working at University of Florida serving as the Gators’ Executive Associate Athletics Director for External Affairs. Hill served during his time in Gainesville as the chief marketing officer and brand manager, and oversaw revenue development. As a primary advisor to the Director of Athletics, he helped lead searches in the hiring of head coaches. Hill became AD at Charlotte on Feb 28, 2018.
So it will be interesting to see in what direction UCF goes. Do they go with someone with ties to UCF? What about ties to Danny White? Or maybe ties to Cartwright? Will it be a current G5 AD or P5 deputy AD? Many of those questions around one of the most important hires in UCF Athletics history will play out in the coming weeks.