Donovan signs contract extension with UF

Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan talks with a referee against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the second half of the NCAA tournament third round game on Saturday, March 22, 2014 in Orlando, Fla. Florida defeated Pittsburgh 61-45 to advance to the Sweet 16.

Matt Stamey / Staff photographer
Published: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 11:24 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 12:50 p.m.

Florida men’s basketball coach Billy Donovan faced a long rebuilding project in getting the Gators back to the level of a national championship contender again.

Donovan was rewarded for that hard work and loyalty with a three-year contract extension that will bump his average salary to $3.7 million from 2014 through 2019.

Donovan, who will turn 49 in May, has led the Gators to three Final Fours and two national titles in 18 seasons. But this season has been perhaps his finest coaching job. On a roster with no projected NBA draft lottery picks, Donovan has led the top-ranked Gators to a 34-2 record and the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament. Florida will take a 28-game winning streak, the longest in the country, into its Sweet 16 matchup Thursday night against UCLA.

Donovan agreed to terms of the deal last summer and signed it in February. Under terms of the contract, Donovan earned a $250,00 loyalty bonus March 1 that bumped his salary to $3.9 million this season.

Remaining the same in the contract are Donovan’s bonuses, which include $50,000 for winning the SEC, $50,000 for an AP Top 10 finish, $50,000 for AP coach of the year, $25,000 for AP SEC coach of the year, $25,000 for winning the SEC tournament and $37,500 for reaching the NCAA tournament. The NCAA tournament bonus increases to $75,000 for reaching the Sweet 16, $100,000 for reaching the Final Four and $150,000 for winning a national title.

So far this season, Donovan has earned $225,000 in bonuses for winning the SEC, finishing in the AP Top 10 (1), winning the SEC tournament, winning AP SEC coach of the year and reaching the Sweet 16.

Donovan’s extension keeps the Gator coach as the second-highest paid basketball coach in the SEC, behind Kentucky’s John Calipari, who makes an average of $5.4 million per season.

Donovan is one of three SEC coaches to win 400 games. On Saturday, Donovan moved into second all-time in wins at an SEC school behind Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp (875), picking up his 449th victory to pass LSU’s Dale Brown (448 wins). Donovan is 449-168 at UF and has led the Gators to 14 NCAA Tournament appearances in 18 seasons.

He left the program following Florida's second national championship in 2007 to become the coach of the Orlando Magic, but changed his mind and returned to the school four days later. He has since led the Gators to four straight Sweet 16s in the NCAA tournament and is playing for a fourth straight Elite Eight berth Thursday in Memphis, Tenn.

Last weekend in Orlando, Donovan was asked if he considered himself a “Florida lifer” or whether he would have interest if an NBA team came calling again.

“When you say I’m a lifer, that means to me that I’m never going to go anywhere and be there,” Donovan said. “Who knows? They may get sick of me at Florida and want me to move on. But I don’t like coming out making predictions or statements. I would say right now I’m extremely happy with my life at Florida.”

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