RUSTON, La. — Louisiana Tech officials landed one of the rising young stars in the college basketball business Wednesday when the University hired Ole Miss assistant coach Michael White.
White, who’s hiring is pending the approval of the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana Systems, was introduced during a formal press conference held in the Jarrell Room of the Charles Wyly Athletic Center.
After carefully outlining the qualifications they were searching for in the replacement for former Tech head coach Kerry Rupp, the search committee chaired by Tech Athletics Director Bruce Van De Velde recommended White who was approved by the Tech Athletics Council.
He is the 17th head coach in Bulldog basketball history.
“I am excited about the future direction of our men’s basketball team under the leadership of Michael White,” said Tech President Dan Reneau. “It was clear that Michael afforded us opportunities for growth and success, both short-term and long-term, that no other candidate could. He understands what is required to build a successful program and he has the passion and dedication to make it happen. On behalf of the entire Louisiana Tech family, I’d like to welcome him to our University.”
The 34-year-old White spent the past seven seasons on the Ole Miss staff, developing a reputation as one of the top assistant coaches in the country during his stay.
A finalist for the 2009 Coaches Award presented by BasketballScoop.com – honoring the top assistants in the college game — White was instrumental in the Rebels’ rise to prominence in the Southeastern Conference as he helped lead the program to four postseason berths and a pair of SEC West titles in the past five years. The Rebels won 20 or more games in four the last five seasons.
“The quality of candidates for our head men’s basketball coaching position was extremely impressive,” Van De Velde said. “Michael White clearly elevated himself to the top of our list due to his success as a player and coach in the SEC, his experience as a recruiter who has developed extensive relationships in the southern region of the country, and his commitment to the overall development of student athletes. Michael is a winner in every sense. He demonstrates great intensity, a strong work ethic, and outstanding integrity and class. We are proud to have him as the new leader of our men’s basketball program.”
White is well-known in the recruiting circles nationwide, but especially in the Southern region of the country having helped Ole Miss land three recruiting classes ranked in the Top 25 in the country by numerous recruiting publications, including the 2005 class that was ranked as high as No. 7 by Hoop Scoop.
“I can’t express how excited I am to be coaching a program at such a prestigious institution under the leadership of such a dynamic administration,” White said. “Louisiana Tech has all the resources necessary, including a fertile recruiting base, to compete for championships and berths in the NCAA Tournament. Those are my goals.”
In addition to his recruiting responsibilities, he worked closely with the Rebel guards, including helping Terrico White who earned the SEC Freshman of the Year award and Freshman All-America accolades in 2009. Ole Miss had five guards named all-SEC during the last five seasons and eight different guards that made seven or more three-pointers in one game during that stretch.
“I think Louisiana Tech has made a great choice,” said Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy. “Mike is tremendous and ready for the next challenge. I don’t have any doubts he will do a great job. He is a well rounded coach despite the fact he is relatively young for a head coach. He had a great amount of success as a player. He basically served as a coach on the floor when he led Ole Miss during his playing days. He’s been able to transcend that into this profession.
“I have really relied on him in a number of areas when it comes to the game, practice, scouting and recruiting. Mike has been very successful in all of those areas. Couple that with the fact he grew up in an athletics family, it should be a seamless transition. I’m excited for Mike, but I’m even more excited for Louisiana Tech.”
Prior to his stint on the Ole Miss staff, White spent four years at Jacksonville State, helping coordinate the Gamecocks’ recruiting efforts for three seasons. White had five recruits named all-conference in four seasons at Jacksonville State.
During his time at the school, Jacksonville State also recorded the winningest season in its Division I history in 2002-03 while also recording the program’s first-ever league tournament victory.
“What a great fit – Michael White and Louisiana Tech,” said Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey. “I truly feel Michael is one of the bright, young teachers of our game. Simply put, he’s the kind of guy you would want your son to play for.”
A native of Dunedin, Florida, White played high school basketball in the state of Louisiana at Jesuit High School in New Orleans before signing at Ole Miss where he was a four-year starter at point guard for the Rebels in the late 1990s.
During his time in a Rebel uniform, he helped lead Ole Miss to consecutive SEC West Division titles, three straight NCAA Tournament berths and the program’s first ever NCAA Tournament win in 1999. He was a two-time SEC Academic Honor Roll selection and a member of the 1999 SEC Good Works Team.
“In calling college basketball games for almost 30 years, you have a tendency to remember the dynamic kids when they are young players,” said CBS commentator and national radio personality Tim Brando. “You have a feel over time that these guys are going to be tremendously successful and great leaders later on. I saw it with Sean Miller at Pittsburgh. I saw it with Billy Donovan when he was playing at Providence.
“I had a feeling all along that both of those guys had tremendous talent, but they were achieving beyond their talent as players and had the ability to make other players better. Michael White was very much in the same category at Ole Miss as those two were. He was every bit the leader as those two.
“I think Louisiana Tech hit a home run. Just short of having head coaching experience, he’s got every other facet in his arsenal that makes a guy a quality head coach. I think it was only a matter of time until he became a head coach.”
After being invited to the Utah Jazz’s summer training camp following his college career, White spent the 1999-2000 season between playing professionally for the IBL’s New Mexico Slam and in England before returning to Ole Miss in the spring of 2000 to complete his B.A. in business.
White’s passion for and knowledge of college basketball came naturally as he grew up around the game as his father, Kevin White, served as athletic director at Notre Dame, Arizona State, Tulane and Maine. Kevin White is currently the AD at Duke.
Michael’s younger brother, Danny, played basketball at Towson and Notre Dame, and is now the Executive Director for the UMAA Foundation. Youngest brother Brian is a senior account executive in the sports properties department at the University of Arkansas.
He is married to the former Kira Zschau, an All-SEC volleyball player at Ole Miss, who also has a law degree from the University. The couple has two daughters, Rylee and Maggie, and twin boys, Collin and Keegan.
White, who is one of the youngest Division I head coach in the country, will begin assembling a coaching staff immediately.