Advertisement

Archive for Friday, June 1, 2007

Donovan decides to test NBA waters

Florida coach accepts offer to coach Orlando Magic

June 1, 2007

Advertisement

— Rich history wasn't enough to lure Billy Donovan away from Florida. In the end, it was just riches.

Donovan will have plenty of them after he was hired to coach the Orlando Magic on Thursday. The team confirmed the hiring Thursday night and scheduled a news conference for this morning.

Donovan agreed to a five-year deal paying $5.5 million annually, an official in the NBA told The Associated Press.

"Billy Donovan is a winner," general manager Otis Smith said. "We feel he is the right person to develop and maximize the talents of our players. We look forward to Billy leading us to the next level."

Donovan has been the subject of speculation since the Gators' second straight NCAA championship in April. He turned down an offer to coach Kentucky, whose storied program launched his career as an assistant in 1990, and was more recently linked to the Memphis Grizzlies' vacant coaching job.

He seemed to squash those rumors after turning down the Kentucky position, proclaiming, "I love the University of Florida."

But Orlando, about 115 miles south of Gainesville, proved too strong to resist. The Magic job pays more than twice Donovan's $1.7 million annual deal with the Gators.

Both Donovan and the school had said all along they were negotiating a contract extension. Florida president Bernie Machen said Thursday the deal was basically done, just not signed.

"There's always a next," Machen said at the Southeastern Conference's annual spring meeting in Destin, Fla. "Billy Donovan has been here for 11 years, won two national championships. He's been a great ambassador for the University of Florida. We'll always love Billy Donovan, whether he's here 11 years or 21 years."

FLORIDA COACH BILLY DONOVAN signals to his team during a Final Four game against Ohio State. Donovan, who led the Gators to their second straight NCAA title in April, decided Thursday to become coach of the NBA's Orlando Magic.

FLORIDA COACH BILLY DONOVAN signals to his team during a Final Four game against Ohio State. Donovan, who led the Gators to their second straight NCAA title in April, decided Thursday to become coach of the NBA's Orlando Magic.

Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley also emphasized there were no hard feelings.

"We certainly wish this run could have gone on forever. It's been an incredible privilege to be a part of. We're indebted to Billy Donovan," Foley said in a written statement. "We hired him 11 years ago to build Florida basketball and he did that beyond anyone's expectations. We'll miss him as a coach, but we'll always be friends and remain close to Billy and his family."

ESPN says Florida likely will consider hiring VCU's Anthony Grant as replacement for Billy Donovan. Grant worked for Donovan for 10 years at Florida and was instrumental in recruiting players from both national title teams.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.