Florida Coach Donovan Not Interested In Kentucky Job

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida coach Billy Donovan says he isn't going anywhere.

Donovan made it clear Friday he has no interest in the Kentucky job or any other opening, reaffirming his desire to stay in Gainesville and get the Gators back to the NCAA tournament.

"In response to the rumors circulating about my interest in other jobs, I wanted to address this as quickly as possible," Donovan said in a statement. "I am committed to the University of Florida and look forward to continuing to build our program here."

Kentucky fired coach Billy Gillispie on Friday, creating an opening at one of college basketball's premier programs and prompting speculation that Donovan would again be the top target to return to the Bluegrass State. Donovan spent five years as an assistant under Rick Pitino in Lexington, learning all about Kentucky's unrivaled fan base and unrealistic expectations.

Nonetheless, Donovan spurned a chance to take over the tradition-rich program in April 2007, turning down athletic director Mitch Barnhart before he even offered him the job. Donovan didn't even let it get that far this time around. His statement was released minutes after Barnhart announced Gillispie's dismissal.

Florida officials, including athletic director Jeremy Foley, don't expect Donovan to waver on his word, either.

Nearly two months after turning down Kentucky in 2007, Donovan took a job with the NBA's Orlando Magic but changed his mind after just a couple days on the job. He returned to Gainesville, got ripped nationally for his flip-flop decision and apologized profusely to everyone involved.

Donovan eventually signed a six-year contract that pays $3.5 million annually. The deal includes a clause stating that Donovan and his agent cannot directly or indirectly explore, discuss or negotiate any employment with any other school or professional team without Foley's written approval.

Foley said Kentucky never requested permission to talk to Donovan.

The Gators are 310-126 in 13 seasons under Donovan, who has vowed to get the Gators on the same level as storied basketball programs like Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, Duke and UCLA. He still has work to do.

Florida became the first national champion since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985 to miss the NCAA tournament in consecutive years. Florida finished 25-11 this season and lost in the quarterfinals of the NIT.

The Gators could return four starters and most of their reserves next season. They also have highly touted guard Kenny Boynton and Georgetown transfer Vernon Macklin waiting to take the court.

Nonetheless, some felt Donovan might be ready for a new challenge, especially after the last two seasons, and Kentucky offers a place where basketball is king.

Then again, Donovan has put down deep roots in Gainesville with his wife and four children. His parents also live nearby.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press


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