Both Shawn Stepner of WKBW in Buffalo and the Orlando Sentinel in Florida are reporting that following interviews Monday, UCF President John Hitt will announce that Buffalo Bulls Athletic Director Danny White will fill the same role in Orlando, replacing interim AD Brad Stricklin. Posters on UCF message boards are indicating that a press conference has been scheduled for Thursday.
White originally came to UB in May 2012 after stints at Ole Miss and Fresno. In two and half years he has overhauled the department's reputation in the region, though in which direction is up to who you ask. White's lasting legacy will be the "New York Bulls Initiative,' a comprehensive project which aimed to appropriately represent the department's premier status within New York public universities and peer relationships to so-called 'flagship' universities in other states.
The most visible outgrowth of the NYBI was a change in emphasis to "State University of New York at Buffalo," which, while the legal name of the school, ruffled the feathers of many fans, unaffiliated Western New Yorkers, and most notably, cynical but high-pedestaled members of the local media as it necessarily places less import on the word 'Buffalo'. Other, less controversial and more successful aspects of the Initiative have been mostly ignored: more substantial partnerships with the Buffalo business community and massive increases in publicity and media reach.
Whether specific projects are tied in specifically to the NYBI or not, it is impossible to separate anything in White's tenure from the Initiative thanks to both the "New York"-related turmoil and the pervasive nature of a department-wide strategic plan. In the last two years, the department has seen a new facilities master plan and begun work on a number of secondary projects while increasing revenue from both donations and ticket sales, but is still without a fieldhouse, the only school in the MAC still in need of an indoor practice facility.
Increased ticket sales and revenue have come along with reconfigured season ticket plans in Football and Men's Basketball that incorporate donor-based seating and loyalty points in facilities that have rarely sold out. As a result a portion of season ticket holders were moved from their seats. Further sections were moved this football season as a result of the West Club project, which announced just earlier this year after the department ran into roadblocks in a similar and longer-planned project on the opposite side of the stadium.
UB has seen across-the-board improvement on the field in White's tenure, which was punctuated in the early years by new coaching hires in more than half of the department's positions but is now more clearly defined by a certain creativity and savvy in finding successful candidates and notably increased energy in recruiting and community outreach.
In Football, Jeff Quinn coached the Bulls to their second-ever bowl appearance after receiving an extension, and his replacement, Lance Leipold has the 2015 team on the verge of a third such season. Men's Basketball, Women's Soccer, and Men's Tennis have all advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever, while the school saw its first ever Division I National Champion in the 2015 Outdoor Track and Field season. Nearly every sport has posted ten-year highs in the past three semesters.
The immediate impact on UB Athletics is not yet clear, but I imagine we will know a timeline and interim AD before long. Bull Run will follow the further developments closely and offer our own thoughts shortly.