Newbauer resigns as Gators coach

UF women’s basketball head coach Cam Newbauer resigned on Friday, the school announced.

Newbauer signed a three-year contract extension through the 2024-25 season shortly after the 2020-21 season concluded. However, “personal reasons” led to his dismissal.

“Being the head coach of the University of Florida women’s basketball team has been the honor of a lifetime,” Newbauer said in a statement. “After much reflection, my family and I have come to the difficult decision to step away. Gator Nation and the Gainesville community have accepted me, my wife Sarah and our three daughters from the day we arrived. We will greatly miss all of the people that have made our experience and make this place so special.

“There are many people who I am forever grateful for, but I especially want to thank all of the players who I had the privilege to coach. I have no doubt that the program we built is poised for great success.”

Added athletic director Scott Stricklin: “We wish all the best to Cam and Sarah and their family. We appreciate their efforts during their time here, and we know Cam worked incredibly hard for the Gators and brought a high level of energy to the job.”

Stricklin also announced that Kelly Rae Finley will serve as the interim coach for the 2021-22 season.

“During Kelly’s four years here at Florida, she has been well-respected within the women’s basketball program and throughout the UAA, and we’re fortunate to have her step in and lead our young women,” Stricklin said.

Finley was an assistant under Newbauer for all four of his seasons and added the title of associate head coach two years ago. She served as acting head coach for three games last season, and she’s known as an excellent recruiter.

Finley coached at Arizona, Colorado and Harvard prior to Florida. She was a two-time letterwinner at Colorado State and graduated in 2008.

“I am committed to our student-athletes and will continue to do all I can to help them become the best they can be on and off the court,” Finley said. “I’m grateful to be entrusted with this role and will bring my best every day to help us be successful together as a team.”

Stricklin tasked Newbauer with establishing a consistent winner when he hired him away from Belmont in March 2017. The program is the only one on campus to have never won a conference championship.

Instead, it was more of the same during his four seasons. He posted a 46-71 overall record and failed to finish above .500 in any season. He went just 15-47 against SEC competition.

They did show marked improvement in 2020-21, though, winning the program’s first postseason game since 2014 before losing in the second round of the Women’s NIT.

The roster was a revolving door of transfers under Newbauer’s watch, which made it hard for the program to maintain any sort of forward momentum.

The next full-time coach, whether it’s Finley or someone else, will face a tough rebuilding project, as the program went backward under Newbauer’s watch. He or she needs to energize an apathetic fan base, provide stability to the program and find a way to content for a spot in the NCAA Tournament on an annual basis.

Ethan was born in Gainesville and has lived in the Starke, Florida, area his entire life. He played basketball for five years and knew he wanted to be a sportswriter when he was in middle school. He’s attended countless Gators athletic events since his early childhood, with baseball being his favorite sport to attend. He’s a proud 2019 graduate of the University of Florida and a 2017 graduate of Santa Fe College. He interned with the University Athletic Association’s communications department for 1 ½ years as a student and has spent the last two football seasons writing for InsideTheGators.com. He is a long-suffering fan of the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tampa Bay Rays. You can follow him on Twitter @ehughes97.