Earlier today, our Link of the Day sent you over to Sparty and Friends for a rumor that Billy Gillespie would be fired at Kentucky and replaced by Billy Donovan.
A report this afternoon at MyFox Orlando is confirming that rumor, and we tip our hats again to Sparty for alerting us to the latest Billy Donovan-to-Kentucky report.
Update 3:50 – Gary Parrish of CBS Sports is now reporting that Billy Donovan WILL NOT leave Florida for Kentucky or any other job. No link for this story yet, but I’ll provide one as soon as it is available.
Update 4:00 – Trolling the Kentucky message boards I just read that Donovan also released a statement saying he was “committed to the University of Florida”. Some still are not convinced that means he won’t end up in Lexington, but the earlier report from MyFox Orlando is certainly appearing less and less true by the minute.
Update 4:15 – Thanks to Sparty for the tip on this one too, the statement released by Donovan in response to the Kentucky rumors. From GatorSports.com:
â€œIn 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.”
Hmm…if that’s the entire statement I can’t say it convinces me wholeheartedly that Donovan will be in Gainesville next year. We’ve heard the “I’m committed to XYZ School” utterance before. It is often followed by a press conference soon thereafter introducing said coach at another school. We’ll see. For now, it sounds like Donovan is trying to slow down the rumor mill, but there is no language in that statement (at least that part of it) that suggests he is totally ruling out Kentucky as a possibility.
According to the report at MyFox Orlando, Billy Donovan will resign as Florida’s head basketball coach and subsequently accept the same position at Kentucky. The University of Kentucky has held a 4:00 PM press conference to announce the firing of Billy Gillespie.
The persistent rumor I’ve been reading is that current VCU coach Anthony Grant would be on the short list of replacement candidates for Florida. Grant was also mentioned a few years ago when Donovan had his I will, I won’t about face with the Orlando Magic job after winning his second straight National Championship in Gainesville. Donovan accepted the position, only to back out a few days later.
Since then, Billy Donovan has yet to take Florida back to the NCAA Tournament. After going 68-11 with two National Championships in 2005-06 and 2006-07, the Gators have been 49-23 over the last two seasons. For his career, Billy Donovan has a 345-146 record at Florida and Marshall. He has led the Gators to at least the Sweet 16 four teams, winning the two titles and losing in the 2001 championship game.
There have long been rumors about Kentucky wanting Donovan, in no small part because of Donovan’s connection to former Kentucky coach Rick Pitino. Donovan played for Pitino at Providence, reaching the Final Four in 1987, and was an assistant with Pitino in Lexington from 1989-1994.
Kentucky is obviously hoping that Donovan can help the program return to prominence after fading for the latter part of this decade. Billy Gillespie went 40-26 in two seasons, reaching the NCAA Tournament as an 11 seed last year and missing the tournament this season. By contract, Kentucky was 44-25 in the last two seasons under Tubby Smith, but made the tournament as an 8 seed both seasons and won first round games both seasons.
Kentucky had hoped that Gillespie could help the program add to its 7 National Championships, but Gillespie never seemed to get comfortable in Lexington and fans certainly never got comfortable with him.
If Billy Donovan does indeed accept the Kentucky job, he will be only the 7th head basketball coach at Kentucky since Adolph Rupp took the job in 1931.