Ex-Gator Butler leaves Charlotte for job at Florida

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- UNC Charlotte's Amanda Butler was hired Friday as the women's basketball coach at Florida, returning to the school where she once played and where the men are NCAA basketball and football champions.

She succeeds Carolyn Peck, who was fired in February following the team's 13th consecutive loss. Peck finished the season that ended with a 9-22 record, unable to put the Gators in the same class with Southeastern Conference powers Tennessee, Georgia and LSU.

Athletic director Jeremy Foley hopes Butler will follow the path of two other young coaches he hired -- men's basketball coach Billy Donovan and football coach Urban Meyer. "We talked to a lot of people during this hiring process, and the one name that continually surfaced was Amanda Butler's," Foley said. "She is a young, up-and-coming coach who has such a bright future."

The move marks a new beginning for the school's only team -- in any major or minor sport -- that lacks an SEC championship. Butler was a four-year starting guard for the Gators in 1990-94, leading Florida to its first two NCAA tournament appearances. She was an assistant for two years under former coach Carol Ross. She then spent four years as an assistant at Austin Peay, four years as an assistant at Charlotte and the last two seasons as the 49ers' head coach.

The 49ers went 40-22 in two years under Butler. They earned a share of the Atlantic 10 Conference regular-season championship in 2006, and Butler was recognized as the league's coach of the year.

"This is a very emotional day for me because returning to the University of Florida is a dream come true. ... Florida is such a respected place, athletically and academically," she said. "And we will work hard on the court, in the classroom and in the Gainesville community and make the Gator Nation proud."

The Gators went 72-76 in Peck's five seasons, including a 24-46 mark in conference play. She led Florida to NCAA tournament berths in 2004 and 2006. Now it's Butler turn to try to elevate the women's basketball team to where just about every other program is in Gainesville -- competing for conference titles annually.

"Under her direction, the sky really is the limit to what we can accomplish," said Florida associate AD Lynda Tealer, who's in charge of women's sports. "I look forward to the journey."