Texas steals White from powerhouse program

Ross Burkhart

On the morning of June 25, Mike White was in the process of recruiting for the Oregon Ducks at a softball camp in Colorado. Twenty-four hours later, he stood at a podium wearing burnt orange at an introductory news conference after getting named as Texas’ next softball head coach.

The introductory press conference on June 26 marked the first time in 22 years that Texas softball has seen a captain at the helm other than Connie Clark. As White took the podium following an introduction from Chris Del Conte, vice president and athletics director, members of his family and six Texas softball players watched on.

“It took a lot to get me out of Oregon,” White said during his introductory press conference. “I’m excited to be here. The opportunity is second to none. There were a lot of coaches that wanted this job, but it needs more than that. It needs someone that is going to pour their heart and soul into it, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

White arrived at the University of Oregon after the Ducks finished their 2009 season with an abysmal 16–34 record. One season after White took over, the Ducks improved to 35–21 and 42–16 the following year. This trend continued until Oregon made an appearance in the Women’s College World Series — just three years into White’s campaign.

Now, he has decided to leave the same program he led to five Women’s College World Series appearances in a nine-season stint. While White admitted that financial security played a major factor in his decision, there were also several other pieces to the puzzle.

“Why not Texas?” White said. “I believe the University of Texas has every resource available to become a national power in softball. The recruiting base in Texas is tremendous, and the plans that Chris Del Conte has for the program and facility upgrades make Texas very appealing. I think it’s the right time in my career to make a move. I still have a lot of energy and time left to make an impact, and Texas has the backing and resources to do just that.”

White’s track record for maintaining a collegiate powerhouse speaks for itself. The five Pac-12 championships and five Women’s College World Series appearances he brought to the program over nine seasons wasn’t a fluke. Now, he will have the opportunity to recruit players from Texas — a state that boasts arguably the best softball talent in the nation. 

“I asked Mike, ‘Why Texas?’” Del Conte said as he introduced White. “He said, ‘Because I can win a national championship at the University of Texas.’ Oregon is not known for softball. We have 1,300 young ladies that play softball in this state. We have some of the very best that come here. He took a program with no state talent and went to Oklahoma City (the Women’s College World Series) five times in a nine-year period of time.”

White won’t be taking over a team that is in quite as bad of a position as Oregon was when he took over nine seasons ago, but White said he knows he has work to do when he takes over a Texas team that has failed to reach the Women’s College World Series every year since 2013.

Now ready to lead a Texas team looking to build on a 33–26 record from the previous season, White said he is hoping to bring postseason success to Austin once again.

“My first goal would be to make regionals, then host regionals, obviously, which is a big stepping stone,” White said. “Then hosting super regionals, which means you have to be in the top eight. That’s a big step, and it takes a little bit of time, but hopefully I can attract some players to come here to help fill out our squad and be competitive straight away.”