GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - 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
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. All Rights Reserved.)