Mike White still plans on winning a softball national championship.

But it will not be at Oregon.

White, who led the Ducks to five Pac-12 championships in the past six seasons and five appearances in the Women’s College World Series since 2012, is leaving to take take the same position at Texas.

 

After posting a 435-111-1 record (.795 winning percentage) over nine seasons at Oregon, White said the opportunity to provide his family with financial security and to build the Longhorns into a national powerhouse was too good to pass up.

“I wouldn’t leave if I didn’t think I had a chance to build a new program and the ability to win a national championship,” White said during an interview with The Register-Guard. “Texas was the right one.”

White, who will be introduced during a news conference Tuesday in Austin, did not disclose how much more Texas will pay him than Oregon. He is expected to sign a five-year deal that a source close to the situation said would make White the second-highest paid coach in the nation.

Oklahoma’s Patty Gasso reset the market by signing a contract through 2024 with an annual salary of $925,000 after leading the Sooners to four national championships.

Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens and White agreed to a six-year contract worth $1.425 million in guaranteed salary (an average of $237,500 per year) in June 2015 after the coach interviewed with Arkansas and as ground was being broken on the $17.2 million Jane Sanders Stadium project.

According to White, who also earned $90,000 in performance bonuses last season, Oregon wasn’t interested in redoing the deal again.

“They felt like I was being compensated fairly,” White said. “Obviously that wasn’t enough. They didn’t step up to the plate, so to speak. I don’t blame them. That could be resources-based.”

Mullens announced assistant coach Chelsea Spencer will serve as interim coach during the immediate search for White’s replacement.

“We appreciate all of Mike White’s contributions to the Oregon softball program over the last several years, and we wish him the best of luck in his new role,” Mullens said in a statement. “Oregon has the best softball stadium in the nation, the most dedicated and passionate fan base and, most importantly, an outstanding group of returning and incoming student-athletes.

“We will find a leader who will build upon the strong foundation already in place for our program.”

White replaces Connie Clark, Texas’ coach since the softball program began in 1996, who stepped down last month after posting a 873-401-3 record over 22 seasons.

The Longhorns have been to the WCWS five times with four Big 12 regular-season titles and four conference tournament titles. Texas finished 33-26 (10-8 Big 12) in 2018, including an 8-0 loss to Oregon on Feb. 16 in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

“I really wanted a grinder,” Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte told the Austin American-Statesman. “He’s been (at Oregon) nine years and been to the WCWS five of eight years. They were perennially dead last when he got there. They were god awful.”

White steadily turned the Ducks into a contender during his first six seasons at Howe Field and benefited from perhaps the best atmosphere in the sport at Jane Sanders Stadium over the past three seasons.

“Obviously we built a pretty rabid fan base, and that’s important,” White said. “That’s one thing Texas doesn’t have that we need to look at building, because having the regional and super at home is so much of advantage.”

White, a three-time Pac-12 coach of the year (2013, 2014, 2016), has had 19 NFCA all-Americans.

Oregon matched the program record with four all-Americans in 2018 — junior pitcher Megan Kleist and senior catcher Gwen Svekis were on the first team, sophomore pitcher Miranda Elish was on the second team and senior third baseman Jenna Lilley was on the third team.

“Excited for your next journey,” Svekis said on Twitter after the news of White’s decision broke. “Always a duck, though! Thanks for everything.”

The Ducks finished 53-10 overall and 21-3 in Pac-12 play after being bounced from the WCWS by eventual champion Florida State. Oregon finished No. 6 in the final NFCA poll.

At season's end White’s top assistant, Jimmy Kolaitis, was hired as the head coach at Alabama-Birmingham.

One possible candidate to replace White is Kentucky’s Rachel Lawson, who raved about Oregon’s fan support and the atmosphere at Jane Sanders Stadium during the Wildcats’ appearances in the NCAA Eugene Super Regional the past two seasons.

Mullens and Oregon deputy athletic director Lisa Peterson both previously worked at Kentucky.

White said he believes the success the Ducks have enjoyed can be sustained by his replacement.

“Oregon fans, just like the players, have to get behind a new coach and trust and build on what I set up,” White said. “Just like I have to build on what Connie did previously (at Texas).”

White said his first WCWS appearance in 2012 is his fondest memory at Oregon. The Ducks dropped the first game of the Austin Super Regional that year before two straight wins over Texas to reach the WCWS.

“I think making that first world series was special. You want it more for the players than you do for yourself,” White said. “Of course right on the tail of that was going on to win five out of six Pac-12 championships. That’s something I don’t think anyone envisioned us doing. That was so special.

“It’s always about the people you meet, and I met a lot of special people and coached a lot of special players.”