A second bout of March Madness has earned coach Amanda Butler a longer stay in Gainesville.

Athletic director Jeremy Foley announced the extension of Butler’s contract through 2017 on Wednesday. Foley’s decisions comes on the heels of the Gators’ return to the NCAA Tournament during the 2011-12 campaign.

Florida finished the season with a 20-13 record and lost to undefeated national champion Baylor in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

“I like the direction our program is headed,” Foley said.  “We know Amanda will be our coach for a long time. We’re excited about the future of the Gator women’s basketball program.”

In five seasons at UF, Butler has led the Gators to a 98-67 record and two trips to The Big Dance. Florida has fallen in the second round in both NCAA Tournament appearances and each loss has come against the No. 1 overall seed. Butler’s other three years have produced three WNIT appearances and a 54-43 record.

“To have the confidence that Jeremy has in my staff and me feels fantastic,” Butler said. “It makes us even more excited about the future of the program and where it’s headed.”

The Gators lose five seniors and one transfer from last season’s roster, but they return Jennifer George, who lead the team with 12.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game last season.

Florida expects a boost from Butler’s latest recruiting class. Headlined by Kentucky’s Miss Basketball honoree Sydney Moss, the four-member group is ranked No. 20 nationally by ESPN.

Butler will try to lead the Gators to their first-ever Southeastern Conference title during the 2012-13 season. The women’s basketball program is the only UF sport that has not won a conference championship.

"There is a lot of work to be done and I am anxious to get right to work,” Butler said at her introductory press conference in April 2007.

“Florida is such a respected place, athletically and academically, and we will work hard on the court, in the classroom and in the Gainesville community and make the Gator Nation proud."

Contact Joe Morgan at [email protected].

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