Athletics Director Danny White has completed one of two searches for a head coach, selecting former Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins to lead the UCF men’s basketball team.
Dawkins, who was reported to be hired Tuesday night by ESPN, will replace former coach Donnie Jones, who was fired on March 10 after six seasons with the Knights. The Knights (12-18) were knocked out of the American Athletic Conference tournament the same night White delivered the news to Jones.
Dawkins, 52, spent eight seasons at Stanford, where he racked up a 156-115 record and led the Cardinal team to the NCAA tournament in 2014 and the NIT championships in 2012 and 2015. He was fired March 14 following a 15-15 season, according to USA Today.
“This decision was not easy and it was a very difficult discussion for both Johnny and me, but like everything else during his tenure at Stanford, he handled it with class, respect and the utmost concern for his student-athletes,” Athletics Director Bernard Muir said in a statement.
Dawkins will be officially introduced to media and students on Thursday, March 24 at 11 a.m. inside the CFE Arena.
“I’m confident Johnny Dawkins will be a great leader for our men’s basketball program here at UCF,” White said in a UCF Athletics press release. “There was a ton of interest in this position. We targeted coach Dawkins early on in the process. After our conversations with him and after talking to many well-respected people in college basketball, it became clear to me that he’s the right coach to take our program to the next level. We are very happy to welcome Johnny, Tracy and their family to Orlando.”
Dawkins played college ball under legendary college basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski in the early 1980s at Duke University in North Carolina, where Kevin White, father of UCF Director of Athletics Danny White, serves as AD.
“The members of our search committee, who were instrumental in helping us bring coach Dawkins to UCF, deserve a great deal of credit for their role in this hire,” White said in the release. “I want to thank President Hitt, Alex Martins, George Kalogridis and David Albertson, along with the UCF Athletics executive team, for their assistance with the search.”
In 1986, Dawkins was drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft as the No. 10 pick by the San Antonio Spurs.
He would go on to play nine seasons in the NBA for teams such as the Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers and the Detroit Pistons, averaging 11.1 points and 5.5 assists per game.
“I'd like to thank President Hitt, Danny White and the entire administration for their belief, faith and confidence in me,” Dawkins said in the release. “This is a meaningful opportunity to build and grow a program that we can be proud of. I am honored to represent UCF, the community and the state of Florida.”
Evan Abramson is the Sports Editor for the Central Florida Future. You can follow him on Twitter at @Evan_Abramson and email him at EvanA@centralfloridafuture.com.