ATLANTA - Coach Billy Donovan spent several hours after the national championship game mingling with family and friends, and socializing with school officials.
Sorry Florida fans, he didn’t agree to a new contract.
He didn’t talk to Kentucky, either. But it could happen soon.
Donovan’s future — along with those of stars Corey Brewer, Taurean Green, Al Horford and Joakim Noah — took center stage Tuesday, just a few hours after the Gators etched their names on another national championship trophy and secured a spot in NCAA history with an 84-75 victory against Ohio State.
“I haven’t talked to anybody, and everybody’s looking for answers from me like I’m having all these behind-the-scenes conversations and I’m working these angles,” Donovan said Tuesday. “None of that is going on.”
At least not yet.
Donovan acknowledged that his agent could have talked to the Wildcats, and he expressed admiration for the storied program in the Bluegrass State.
But he also said he intends to stay at Florida. He talked about his loyalty to the Gators and athletic director Jeremy Foley and his desire to “build tradition over a period of time” in Gainesville.
In short, he gave fans in Florida and Kentucky hope.
“It’s hard for me to comment about anything,” Donovan said. “I think people maybe feel like I’m being coy or trying to move around the questions. I’m not doing that. There’s nothing for me to say at all. I haven’t spoken to anybody, so my intentions are to be at the University of Florida and coach their basketball team, and I’m happy there.”
Normally, it would mean a contract extension for Donovan.
This time, though, it could result in a change of scenery.
Since Tubby Smith left Kentucky to take the head job at Minnesota, speculation has grown that Donovan is the Wildcats’ top choice to replace him.
Donovan spent five years as an assistant under Rick Pitino in Lexington, quickly learning about Kentucky’s unrivaled fan base and unrealistic expectations.
“There’s a feeling in my heart that’s very strong about Kentucky because I had my first opportunity to coach there through coach Pitino, and my time there was very, very enjoyable,” Donovan said. “But that was a while ago — 13 years. It’s not like I’m removed two years.
Donovan is much more familiar with Florida, the once-mediocre basketball program he turned into a national power, and at a place where football used to be king.
He has spent 11 years in Gainesville, putting down roots with his wife and four children.
Donovan has two years remaining on a contract that pays him $1.7 million a season. School president Bernie Machen and Foley have been working on a new deal for Donovan since last year. Negotiations began during Florida’s title run, but Donovan postponed sealing the deal because he didn’t want to send the wrong message to the players who unselfishly turned down NBA riches to stay in school.
The coach probably won’t have that problem this time around.
Duke coach said that after winning his second gold medal in men's basketball would be his Team USA finale. That may not be the case anymore.
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