Thursday , Apr , 05 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Donovan staying at Florida

Gainesville, FL (Sports Network) – Florida men’s basketball coach Billy
Donovan will apparently remain just that, after much speculation that he might
be tempted to leave the program he has built into a national power to take
over at SEC rival Kentucky.

A university official would not comment on reports from various media outlets
that indicate Donovan’s decision to stay, but a press conference with the
coach and some of the players was scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

Donovan has guided the Gators to back-to-back national championships, becoming
the first program to accomplish the feat since Duke in 1991 and ’92. Rumors
during the last two weekends of the NCAA Tournament said Kentucky was waiting
for Florida’s season to end to offer Donovan its head coaching vacancy.

The Kentucky program has a storied history and has been the premier basketball
school in the SEC, but Florida has clearly eclipsed Kentucky in the latter
category thanks to Donovan.

A former Kentucky assistant under Rick Pitino from 1989 through ’94, Donovan
has spent the last 11 years at Florida after two seasons as the head coach at

The Gators have amassed a record of 261-103 under Donovan, including a mark of
33-5 this past season. Florida has made nine straight trips to the NCAA
Tournament and has advanced to the Final Four three times during his tenure.

Kentucky is trying to fill its opening created when Tubby Smith left after 10
seasons to take the job at Minnesota. Smith guided the Wildcats to a record of
263-83, including 22-12 this past season, and won a national championship in
his first year with the program.

Despite NCAA Tournament appearances in each of Smith’s 10 seasons, the school
had not advanced to the Final Four since the magical run in his first year.
The Wildcats were bounced in the second round of the tournament in each of the
last two years and Smith’s job was rumored to be in jeopardy before he decided
to make the move to Minnesota.