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Billy Donovan
Donovan, left, at the White House with President Bush.
Title Head coach
College Florida
Sport Basketball
Born May 30, 1965 (1965-05-30) (age 44)
Place of birth Rockville Centre, NY, U.S.
Career highlights
NCAA Men's Basketball Championships (2006, 2007)
NCAA Regional Championships - Final Four (2000, 2006, 2007)
SEC Tournament Championships (2005, 2006, 2007)
SEC Regular Season Championships (2000, 2001, 2007)
John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award
Playing career
1983–1987 Providence
Position Point guard
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Kentucky (asst.)

William John "Billy" Donovan, Jr. (born May 30, 1965) is the head coach of the Florida Gators men's basketball team. He has taken the Gators to three NCAA championship game appearances, in 2000, 2006 and 2007. The Gators lost to the Michigan State Spartans in the 2000 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball final.[1] The Gators won the national championship in 2006 with a 73-57 win over UCLA and again in 2007 with an 84-75 win over Ohio State, making Donovan the first coach since Mike Krzyzewski to win back-to-back titles. He is one of only four (Dean Smith, Joe B. Hall and Bobby Knight being the others) to play in the Final Four and win the national championship as a coach.[2]

After a brief stint as head coach of the Orlando Magic that lasted only five days, Donovan re-signed with the Gators on June 7, 2007, with a deal that makes him the highest-paid head coach in college basketball, at $3.5-million per year.[3]

Donovan was named the 2010 winner of the John R. Wooden Award's "Legends of Coaching Award," to be honored in April.


Playing career

Donovan was born and raised in Rockville Centre on Long Island, New York.[4] He is the son of Bill Donovan, Sr., the third leading scorer in Boston College men's basketball history. Donovan graduated from St. Agnes Cathedral High School — a local powerhouse where he was coached by the legendary Frank Morris — in 1983 before going on to Providence College, where he played guard on the basketball team. His first two seasons with the Friars were unimpressive; he scored an average of two points per game as a freshman and three points as a sophomore. His junior year, however, Donovan flourished in the system of new head coach Rick Pitino. "Billy the Kid," as Providence fans soon nicknamed him (after the 19th century outlaw, Billy the Kid), averaged 15.1 points as a junior and 20.6 as a senior, when he led the Friars to the Final Four and earned the Southeast Regional Most Valuable Player honors.

Donovan was drafted by the Utah Jazz in the third round (68th overall) of the 1987 NBA Draft. He was waived after the preseason and played briefly for the Wyoming Wildcatters of the Continental Basketball Association. He then signed a one-year contract with the New York Knicks, coached by Pitino. Donovan averaged 2.4 points and 2.0 assists over 44 games.

Coaching career

After an unsuccessful year playing for Pitino on the New York Knicks, Donovan worked for a Wall Street investment firm before joining Pitino as an assistant coach at the University of Kentucky in 1989. His success there secured him the head coaching job at Marshall University.


Marshall University

Donovan's first season as a head coach saw him turn around a Marshall team that had gone 9-18 the season before his arrival. The team doubled its wins from the previous year to go 18-9 and win the Southern Conference North Division.

His first full recruiting class at Marshall included a high-profile local recruit, point guard Jason Williams. In Donovan's second season, the team went 17-11, led the conference in scoring and three-point field goals. He agreed to take over coaching duties at Florida.

In two years at Marshall, he accumulated a 35–20 record and a league championship.

University of Florida (1996–2007)

In 1996 Donovan took over head coaching duties at Florida, whose men's basketball team had fallen startlingly far from its 1994 Final Four appearance. Donovan took the team to the National Invitation Tournament in his second season, 1997–1998. The following season saw the team make its third ever Sweet Sixteen appearance and become only the second squad in school history to appear in the final Top 25 polls (17th in the ESPN/USA Today Poll and 23rd in the Associated Press Poll).

The next season, 1999–2000, saw Donovan lead the Gators to their second Final Four appearance, defeating North Carolina in the national semi-finals before falling to Michigan State in the championship game.

The team reached the NCAA Tournament in every season between 1999–2007, a streak of nine straight appearances; in eight decades of Florida men's basketball prior to Donovan's arrival, the school had never reached the Tournament more than three years running. On February 3, 2003, the team achieved a No. 1 ranking in the ESPN/USA Today poll for the first time in school history, returning there the following season on December 8, 2003.

In the 2005–2006 season, Donovan's young Gator squad posted the school's best-ever win streak to start a single season, reeling off 17 straight wins and reaching #2 in the nation in the AP Poll. However, the team failed to reach the top spot as it lost its first SEC game of the season to the Tennessee Volunteers. This win was followed by a surprising season sweep at the hands of the eventual 2006 National Invitation Tournament Champion South Carolina Gamecocks. Florida avenged those losses by ending South Carolina's surprising SEC Tournament run in the finals, winning the SEC Tournament Championship, a first for the Gators. The 2005–2006 season was the most successful in the history of both Donovan and Florida basketball, as the Gators defeated UCLA 73–57 in the NCAA championship game, winning the school's first NCAA title.

On December 20, 2006, Donovan became the winningest basketball coach in Florida history, earning his 236th win as Florida's coach in a romp over Stetson and surpassing Norm Sloan's 235 wins[5]. During the 2006-2007 season, with the return of all his starting five from the 2005-06 team (Lee Humphrey, Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Corey Brewer, and Taurean Green), the Gators pulled off a championship trifecta by winning the Southeastern Conference regular season title, SEC Tournament title, and their second straight NCAA Tournament.

With the return of the entire 2006 championship team, the Gators instantly were named preseason favorites to repeat by many media pundits. The Gators raced out of the gates, losing just two non-conference ballgames (vs. Kansas and at Florida State). The 2007 Gators looked even more mature in terms of their unselfishness, passing and shooting abilities and overall team play. Although the Gators sputtered down the stretch during SEC play, losing three of four games started by a loss at Vanderbilt, the team rebounded with their sixth consecutive win over their arch-rivals, the Kentucky Wildcats to regain momentum. The Gators went on to win the SEC Tournament once again with dominating performances, culminating in a win over the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Florida earned the #1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and defeated Jackson St, Purdue, Butler and Oregon to reach the Final Four[6]. In a rematch of the 2006 title game against UCLA, Donovan's Gators prevailed 76-66. The Gators secured their repeat championship two nights later with an emphatic 84-75 victory over the Ohio St. Buckeyes, coached by Thad Matta. Just three months prior, the Gators had defeated the Buckeyes in the BCS Title Game.

Short-lived Orlando Magic stint

During Florida's second title run it was rumored that Donovan may accept a deal from the University of Kentucky. After winning the National Championship, Donovan declined and said he wanted to work out an extension to stay at Florida. However, in late May, Donovan was offered the Orlando Magic head coaching job. On May 31, 2007, Donovan accepted the head coaching position for the NBA's Orlando Magic in a deal reported to be worth $27.5 million over five years, and announced his acceptance of the head coaching job on June 1, 2007. Donovan replaced Brian Hill, who was fired after two consecutive losing seasons. Hill's ouster followed the Magic's first playoff appearance in four years, which ended in the first round against Detroit. Donovan signed the contract June 1, officially making him Magic head coach.[7] Florida then contacted Anthony Grant (who at the time was the head coach at Virginia Commonwealth University and former assistant head coach under Donovan) to offer him the job.

But, on the morning of June 2, Donovan informed the Magic and the Gators that he was having second thoughts about leaving the University of Florida.[8] On June 6, the Magic came to an agreement with Donovan to release him from his contract, leaving him free to rejoin the Gators basketball team. As a stipulation of his release, he reportedly agreed not to coach in the NBA for the following 5 seasons.[9][10]

University of Florida (2007–present)

After announcing his return to Gainesville, Donovan signed the #1 rated class rated by to help retool the Gators with talent[11] . Despite the loss of all 5 starters from the previous year, the Gators surprised many pundits with Donovan's 10th straight 20-win season [12]. However, after an 18–3 start, the team struggled during the final third of the season, winning just 3 of its last 11 games and snapping the Gators' 9-year streak of NCAA Tournament bids. The young Gator team rebounded to reach the 2008 NIT semifinals, where they were defeated by UMass.

The 2008–09 team started out the season ranked 19th and started out 5–0 before falling to Syracuse. A loss 2 weeks later to Florida State knocked the Gators out of the top 25. Though the team won 22 regular season games, it once again was not enough to earn a bid to the NCAA tournament. However, the Gators were given a #1 seed in the 2009 NIT, where they lost to Penn St. in the quarterfinals.

Coaching protégés

Several of Donovan's assistants have become college head coaches in recent years. Two of Donovan's former assistants currently serve as head coaches with Donovan in the Southeastern Conference. The following head coaches all spent time under Donovan at Florida:

Personal life

Donovan married his wife, Christine, in 1990. The Donovans have four children: William III, Hasbrouck, Bryan, and Connor.[13] Donovan is a devout Roman Catholic.[14]

He has been described as conservative by some of his players and in the media.[15] However, he is a registered independent.[16]


On October 2008, coach Billy Donovan and head University of Florida football coach Urban Meyer were named co-chairmen of an effort to raise $50 million to support the Florida Opportunity Scholars Program.[17][18]

This scholarship was designed for first-generation students that have unique needs and financial challenges. The Florida Opportunity Scholars Program was created by President Bernie Machen in 2006, and is intended to increase the opportunities for academically prepared first-generation students.[19][20]

Head coaching record

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Marshall (Southern Conference) (1994–1996)
1994–1995 Marshall 18–9 10–4 1st (North)
1995–1996 Marshall 17–11 8–6 3rd (North)
Marshall: 35–20 18–10
Florida (Southeastern Conference) (1996–Current)
1996–1997 Florida 13–17 5–11 5th (East)
1997–1998 Florida 14–15 6–10 6th (East) NIT 1st Round
1998–1999 Florida 22–9 10–6 3rd (East) NCAA Sweet 16
1999–2000 Florida 29–8 12–4 T-1st (East) NCAA Runner-Up
2000–2001 Florida 24–7 12–4 T-1st (East) NCAA 2nd Round
2001–2002 Florida 22–9 10–6 T-1st (East) NCAA 1st Round
2002–2003 Florida 25–8 12–4 2nd (East) NCAA 2nd Round
2003–2004 Florida 20–11 9–7 2nd (East) NCAA 1st Round
2004–2005 Florida 24–8 12–4 2nd (East) NCAA 2nd Round
2005–2006 Florida 33–6 10–6 2nd (East) NCAA Champions
2006–2007 Florida 35–5 13–3 1st (East) NCAA Champions
2007–2008 Florida 24–12 8–8 4th (East) NIT Semifinals
2008–2009 Florida 25–11 9–7 3rd (East) NIT Quarterfinals
2009–2010 Florida 21–13 9–7 4th (East) NCAA 1st Round
Florida: 331–139 137–87
Total: 366–158

      National Champion         Conference Regular Season Champion         Conference Tournament Champion
      Conference Regular Season & Conference Tournament Champion       Conference Division Champion

See also


  1. ^ "Michigan State wins title". New York Times. 2000-04-04. Retrieved 2008-01-13. 
  2. ^ 2007 March « TicketCity Blog - Find Great Ticket Deals!
  3. ^ "Winning pays off". Gainesville Sun. 2007-06-07. Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  4. ^ Hermoso, Rafael, "COLLEGE BASKETBALL: SOUTH; Easy Part For Florida Is Playing The Game," The New York Times, March 18, 2001. Accessed November 25, 2007.
  5. ^ Donovan becomes the winningest head coach in Florida history
  6. ^ "2007 Final Four". USA Today. 2007-03-31. Retrieved 2008-01-13. 
  7. ^ "Orlando Magic hire Billy Donovan as coach". Orlando Sentinel. 2007-06-01.,0,2783635.story?coll=orl-sports-headlines-college. Retrieved 2007-06-01. 
  8. ^ "Source: Donovan has second thoughts about Magic job". 2007-06-04. Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  9. ^ Reports: Donovan Almost Out, Van Gundy Almost In for Magic, Retrieved on June 5, 2007.
  10. ^ "Magic release Donovan from contract". Associated Press. 2007-06-06. Retrieved 2007-06-06. 
  11. ^ "Gators have top recruiting class". 2007-10-24. Retrieved 2008-01-13. 
  12. ^ Florida Gators
  13. ^ Billy Donovan Head Men's Basketball Coach, University of Florida
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Florida's Noah molding his own destiny in Gators' quest for back-to-back titles". USA Today. 2006-10-27. Retrieved 2008-03-19. 
  16. ^ "How do public figures vote?". Gainesville Sun. 2004-08-01. Retrieved 2008-03-19. 
  17. ^ Meyer & Donovan to raise funding
  18. ^ Gainesville Sun article about the scholarship
  19. ^ About the Scholarship Program
  20. ^ UF Coaches lead the charge

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Roy Williams
NCAA Men's Basketball Champion Head Coach
2006 & 2007
Succeeded by
Bill Self
Preceded by
Lon Kruger
University of Florida Basketball Head Coach
1996 – Present
Succeeded by
None—Current Coach


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