UCF athletic director Danny White has signed a new five-year contract, with an annual one-year rollover clause, the school announced Tuesday.
White’s base salary will be $1,081,500 and will increase by 5% every year on the rollover date. He or his new employer would owe UCF a $2.5 million buyout if he leaves before May 11, 2021, to become an athletic director at another school, an executive with a professional team, college conference or the NCAA, or an executive with a sports marketing, sports management company, broadcasting or social media company.
White has spearheaded an athletic department on the rise since he took over the job in 2015, starting with a football program that has drawn headlines for its performance over the past three seasons. Most notably, White declared the football team national champions following an undefeated 2017 season, starting a national conversation about whether the College Football Playoff should expand.
Beyond starting that conversation, the national champion declaration opened new doors to marketing and promotion. White helped secure $31.7 million in financial commitments in 2019, nearly double the previous year and nearly four times what UCF raised just three years earlier.
But the athletic department is more than just football. Last season, the men’s and women’s basketball teams made the NCAA tournament. Currently, the softball and baseball teams are ranked in the Top 25.
“I couldn’t be more committed to building UCF for the long term — and I am humbled to be able to lead such a talented group of coaches, staff, and student-athletes who make it all happen,” White said in a statement. “I’d like to thank our interim president, Thad Seymour, for his leadership and unwavering support, as well as our many generous donors and sponsors who share our ambitious vision and are bringing it to fruition.”
When White arrived, the football program had completed a winless season. He hired Scott Frost and two years later, UCF went 13-0 and the national championship declaration put White firmly in the spotlight. He drew praise from those on his own campus but the ire from many outside it, who thought he had no right to make any championship declarations.
White never backed down. In fact, UCF had merchandise printed up, signage put along the fence to its practice field and a national championship sign inside its home stadium as well. In an interview with ESPN after that season, White said, “I’m trying to make this place great, and I think it’s going to be great because of the potential and the only way that’s going to happen is if we’re willing to make tough decisions and bold decisions sometimes. This maybe was a little of both.”
As his profile has risen, White’s name has been linked to open athletic director jobs at Power 5 institutions. But White has always maintained his commitment to UCF.
“I love the opportunity to build something here and I think we can build something special,” White said in the ESPN interview. “I have no intention of seriously considering or looking at any other opportunity. Never considered anything. I’m really committed to being here. We can build a Top 25 athletics department here. We’re just young, but we’ve got the market, we’ve got the recruiting base and we’ve got a great university.”