Here We Go Again: Billy Donovan to Leave Florida for Kentucky – Or Will He?

Billy Donovan Resigning - Leaving Florida for KentuckyEarlier 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

“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.”

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.

Is Kentucky better off with Billy Donovan than Billy Gillespie?

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About Jerod Morris

I love words. I write for Copyblogger and founded MSF, The Assembly Call, & Primility. I practice yoga, eat well, & strive for balance. I love life. Namaste. Say hi on Twitter, Facebook, & G+.


  1. Delusional, always delusional, Kentucky fans.

  2. Sparty and Friends nails another college coaching story.

  3. A devoted Kentucky Fan! says:

    Yeah in one way I felt that KY did not give Billy G enough time to prove himself, yet I also feel that he needed to grow up and stay out of the spotlight. He needed to be seen as a well respected man, not a partying person with no morals. I do think deep in my heart that Billy Donovan will be moving his wife and four kids to Kentucky. I think that we are going to lose 2 of our 3 new recruits for next season because of this and yet I am too the point of not caring anymore. I think that Kentucky basketball is going to go down the drain if we don’t get someone in here that knows what they are doing! I think that Billy Donovan is the man for the job! But the question is will that man accept the job laid out before him. I am sure that Kentucky is going to offer him more per season than they did Gillispie and that could be because of notarity! I firmly believe in Kentucky Basketball and I think that all the kinks will be worked out by this time next week! GO CATS!!!

  4. Hey guys, Billy Donovan cannot even discuss another college job without written permission from UF athletic director Jeremy Foley. Furthermore, if he leaves without being fired, he owes UF $500,000 or the remaining pay of his assistants.

    • @Chad, at this point, I don’t think there is anything too the Donovan-to-UK rumors (although I still wouldn’t be surprised if it somehow happened), but I doubt that either of the reasons you mentioned would totally prohibit a move.

      First, I would think that if Donovan asked for permission to talk with Kentucky that Foley would give it. Perhaps I’m wrong, considering UK is in the same conference, but Foley likely would allow him to talk to Kentucky just to keep the peace.

      And with respect to the money, I think Kentucky would take care of that in a heartbeat. It is common practice for a coach’s new team to take care of his buyout or other financial obligations that result from his leaving.

      Still, with all that said, I think Kentucky is moving onto plans B and C.

  5. If you spelled Gillispie right I might think of you as a credible source…

    • @Kevin, first off all, NEVER think of us as a credible source. We just make this stuff up as we go.

      Just kidding.

      Good call on the Gillispie name spelling. I goofed.

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