Cameron Newbauer

UF women's basketball coach Cameron Newbauer

Cameron Newbauer was named Florida’s new women’s basketball head coach on Monday, UF’s athletic department announced.

Newbauer comes to Florida from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, where he was responsible for leading the Bruins to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances. But the situation he inherits at Florida isn’t ideal.

The Gators are coming off a 15-16 record and no postseason play. The Gators also lost their top scorer and All-SEC First Team member Ronni Williams to graduation. However, Newbauer isn’t deterred by the potential struggles of his new job.

“This opportunity is going to take a lot of hard work and diligence,” he said in a release, “but it’s one I’m proud to have in front of me.”

Newbauer’s hiring was a first for Florida athletics director Scott Stricklin. The freshman AD, who took over for Jeremy Foley in November, had never made a head coaching hire at UF before. He has, however, had great luck hiring women’s basketball coaches before.

During his tenure as Mississippi State’s AD, Stricklin hired Vic Schaefer to coach the women’s basketball program. Schaefer brought MSU from perennial SEC cellar dweller to a Final Four appearance in his fifth season. And Stricklin believes that Newbauer can be just as successful.

“I share his confidence” Stricklin said in a release, “that he can build Florida women’s basketball into a conference and national contender.”

The hiring came three weeks after Florida fired former women’s basketball coach Amanda Butler. Butler coached in Gainesville for 10 seasons, but none of her teams made it past the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and that’s if they made it at all.

UF only made the dance in four of her 10 seasons.

But Kenny Kallina, the director of the Florida Girls Basketball travel team and former coach of current UF players Sydney Searcy and Delicia Washington, believes that Newbauer has the potential to slowly build Florida into a contender.

Kallina has known Newbauer since he was an assistant coach at Georgia from 2007-12. During that time, Newbauer recruited in Florida and got to know Kallina as a result.

“I think Cam is gonna do a good job,” Kallina said. “I mean, you think of (Washington coach) Mike Neighbors and Vic Schaefer, they’re in their first contracts going to the Final Four. I’m not sure that’s the type of result we’re gonna see, but it’s gonna be more consistent and at a higher level than it was with Butler.”

Kallina believes that one area where Newbauer should improve the team is with recruiting high-character players, which he believes was a problem under Butler. It’s also something Kallina said Newbauer has done in his previous stops as an assistant coach at Georgia and Louisville, as well as at Belmont.

“I think Cam is gonna steer away from those kinds of kids,” Kallina said, “and is really gonna help the program in that way.”

Contact Ethan Bauer at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ebaueri