Billy Donovan’s flip-flop decision to return to Florida after signing a contact with the Orlando Magic affected different people in different ways.
But the person who may have faced the most uncertainty and anxiety was Florida assistant coach Rob Lanier, who was hired nine days before Donovan initially left for the Magic.
Lanier explored all of his options, including a possible return to his previous job as an assistant at Virginia.
“I was intent on being patient,” Lanier said. “I certainly did explore with (Virginia coach) Dave (Leitao) whether that possibility still existed. …. What Dave did was allow me to talk to him as a friend about what was going on.”
Lanier had returned to Virginia to be with his wife, Dr. Dayo Lanier, when the coaching search began. But as news broke that Donovan was reconsidering, Lanier was kept informed.
“(Donovan) kept me in the loop the best he could under the circumstances and made me feel comfortable that the opportunity still existed,” Lanier said.
Lanier turned down the assistant coaching position at Florida a year ago because he had only spent one season at Virginia. He’s looking forward to stability at Florida now that Donovan’s status is settled. Donovan returned to a six-year contract extension worth $21 million.
“One of the reasons I didn’t come last year is that we moved five times in nine years,” Lanier said. “The impending NBA stuff really isn’t impending anymore. It’s really gone away. So when we move into a home and find schools for our kids, we feel really comfortable this is where we are going to be.
“So we’re excited about this. We’re glad that it happened. Even though it happened in a strange way, I couldn’t be happier with the way things materialized.”