The Florida Gators may have lost basketball coach Billy Donovan to the Orlando Magic. According to the Orlando Sentinal Donovan, who was in contract negotiations with the University of Florida on an extension, was offered a 6 year 36 million dollar contract by the Magic who had recently fired head coach Brian Hill. Donovan had turned down an offer to coach Kentucky earlier this year after winning his second consecutive National Championship, but apparently the lure of the NBA was too much to ignore this time. Donovan has been a great success in the college ranks and he must believe that the NBA is a new challange or the money was just too much to turn down. I hope that it is the latter after what Donovan said about being happy at UF and wanting to stay where he is happy.
I believe that this is a mistake for Billy Donovan. Donovan, who is known as a disciplinarian, will be going into a league that has not had many successful coaches who were big on discipline like Donovan. In fact the Magic's previous coach, Brian Hill, was also a disciplinarian who stressed defense first, which is similar to Donovan. Also, Donovan runs a similar system to Rick Pitino and we all know how well that turned out for Rick in Boston. One has to wonder if Billy talked with his long time friend and mentor about this and what was Pitino's response.
While I am disappointed that Donovan maybe leaving, I am not overly surprised. Throughout the past couple months his name has come up for a couple NBA jobs and he had never denied interest in any of the jobs. The Orlando job makes sense as it is still in Florida, it is substantially more money, and they are a team that is not that far off from contention in the pathetic Eastern Conference. Also, the team is very young and most of the guys are just out of college or in Howard's case did not go, but would be of graduating age. It will be a huge blow to the University of Florida to lose Donovan and i am a little upset that he did it at this time after the big coaches have been signed to other schools.
The name I am hearing the Gators may turn to if Donovan leaves is former assitant Anthony Grant. Grant is the current coach of VCU and beat Duke in the opening round and just fell short of beating Pitt in OT of round 2. Grant runs the same type of system as Donovan and was a long time assitant for Billy D. Other names that have been thrown out are John Calipari and Steve Lavin.
I do want to thank Donovan for all he has done for the Gator basketball program and the University in General, if this is true you will be missed Billy D.