Grant among possible replacements

Anthony Grant, right, who was on Billy Donovan's staff at UF for 10 years and is the current head coach at Virginia Commonwealth, could be a candidate to replace him.

Sun file photo
Published: Friday, June 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, June 1, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

Billy Donovan's departure from Florida comes at an inopportune time for the Gators to find a new coach.

Had Donovan bolted for Kentucky following the Final Four in April, at least Florida would have factored into the coaching carousel that saw Billy Gillispie go from Texas A&M to Kentucky, Todd Lickliter go from Butler to Iowa, and John Pelphrey go from South Alabama to Arkansas.

Now Florida faces the unusual circumstance of being without a basketball coach in June.

The most obvious name that will surface as Donovan's replacement is Anthony Grant. A Miami native, Grant served as an assistant to Donovan for 10 years before taking over as the head coach at Virginia Commonwealth last season. Grant led VCU to a 28-7 record and an upset of Duke in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Grant did not answer a call to his cell phone Thursday night, and his voice mailbox was full.

Current Gator assistant Larry Shyatt may also be a candidate. Shyatt has been a Florida assistant the past three seasons. He previously served as the head coach at Wyoming (1997-98) and Clemson (1998-03). Shyatt would keep stability in the program, but it is uncertain if he has the desire to return to the head coaching ranks.

Perhaps one of the top candidates without Florida ties is Marquette head coach Tom Crean.

Crean is 163-84 and has led Marquette to four NCAA berths in eight seasons.

"I'm happy at Marquette," Crean said Thursday. "They gave me a job eight years ago and I've enjoyed every minute of it."

Crean, who last year signed a contract extension through the 2016-17 season, admitted the Florida job is appealing.

"I think Florida has always been an excellent job," he said. "Norm Sloan won there. Lon Kruger won there. Billy Donovan kept taking it to greater heights. It's always been one of those great jobs. It's one of the great positions in basketball. But there are some. I feel like I've got one, too."

Like Crean, many of the nation's top young coaches have recently signed long-term contract extensions.

Southern Illinois coach Chris Lowery, 34, was mentioned for the head coaching job at Michigan and Iowa two months ago, but instead inked a seven-year contract extension in April that will pay him $750,000 annually.

Xavier coach Sean Miller and Villanova coach Jay Wright also signed long-term contract extensions during the past year.

Contact Brandon Zimmerman at 352-374-5051 or

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