When Cameron Newbauer answered his cell phone last week and was told he was being considered for the women’s basketball head coaching job at the University of Florida, a combination of shock and awe coursed through his body.
Newbauer had just completed his fourth season as head coach at Belmont, leading the Bruins to their second consecutive Ohio Valley Conference Championship and a perfect 16-0 record in league play.
The Fort Wayne, Indiana, native was viewed by many as one of the nation’s most promising young coaches in women’s college basketball, and it was only a matter of time before he moved up to a Power Five conference school.
However, when the moment finally came for Newbauer, he still couldn’t help but feel dumbfounded.
“My jaw dropped,” he said. “To get that phone call was amazing, a dream come true.”
Newbauer was officially hired as the 10th head coach in program history on Monday by athletic director Scott Stricklin and was formally introduced on Tuesday afternoon at a press conference.
Newbauer said he was first and foremost focused on spending time with his new players and beginning to develop a bond with the program.
“Change is tough,” he said. “This is tough on me. This is tough on them. So just building relationships, that’s the number one most important priority.”
The women’s basketball team is about one month removed from one of its worst seasons over the past decade under former head coach Amanda Butler. The Gators lost 11 of 16 games against SEC opponents and missed the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years, leading Stricklin to fire Butler on March 6.
Stricklin is confident that Newbauer is capable of turning the program around over time and emphasized the level of passion the coach displayed over the course of the hiring process.
“(Newbauer) was the most ready to come in here and help us be better from day one, and he was the one who wanted to be at Florida more than any other,” Stricklin said.