NCAA San Francisco Murray St Basktball

San Francisco head coach Todd Golden applauds his team during the first half of a college basketball game against Murray State in the first round of the NCAA tournament, Thursday, March 17, 2022, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida is hiring San Francisco's Todd Golden as its next men's basketball coach, bringing in the 36-year-old former Auburn assistant to revitalize a program that had grown stale under Mike White.

Golden's hiring is expected to be finalized later Friday, according to a person familiar with the search. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal was not official.

White surprised the Gators by leaving for rival Georgia last weekend. Florida missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2017 under White and was mired in mediocrity. Fans had turned on White, to the point where his wife and kids changed seats during one home game earlier this year.

White never lived up to ultra-high expectations that came with following Gainesville legend Billy Donovan, who led the Gators to consecutive national titles (2006-07) and four Final Four appearances before bolting for the NBA.

White went 142-88 in seven seasons at Florida, including 72-52 in the SEC. His up-and-down offense was the most consistent cause of criticism, a defense-first philosophy that often came up short in big games and crucial situations.

Golden will be tasked with pumping energy into a somewhat lackluster program. His path to Florida will remind everyone of Donovan, who left Wall Street to become an assistant at Kentucky and then head coach at Marshall before arriving in Gainesville at age 30.

Golden was working in advertising sales for two years after his overseas playing career and took a pay cut to become an assistant at Columbia in 2012. A college point guard at St. Mary's, Golden landed at Auburn under Bruce Pearl two years later.

He turned that into a coaching gig at San Francisco, where he spent the past six years. He became the Dons' head coach in 2019 and went in 57-36 in three seasons. He turned San Fran into a competitive team in the underrated West Coast Conference.

The 10th-seeded Dons lost to No. 7 seed Murray State 92-87 in overtime in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night.

Golden was a standout basketball and baseball player in high school, but ended up going to St. Mary's as a walk-on. He turned into a three-year starter for the Dons.

He got his big break while playing alongside Pearl's son in Australia in 2006. When Pearl took the Auburn job in 2014, he reached out to Golden. Golden spent two years learning the ropes at Auburn.

Golden is even closer with former San Francisco coach and current Washington State coach Kyle Smith; they worked together at Columbia University and in San Francisco.

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