In many ways, Louisville coach Rick Pitino has been a second father to Florida coach Billy Donovan.
In a poignant moment at the Dick Vitale gala last May, Donovan wondered what his life would have been like without Pitino. It was Pitino who developed the pudgy Donovan into a star college player at Providence, then helped launch his coaching career when he hired him as a graduate assistant at Kentucky.
So that must have made the news of Pitino’s admitted infidelity this week tough for Donovan to swallow. Compounding matters, Pitino’s son, Richard, just joined Florida’s staff as an assistant last April.
UF spokesman Fred Demarest said neither Donovan nor Pitino Jr. would comment on the story. Donovan is on vacation this week.
Many have speculated that because Pitino knew the allegations were going to made public, he had his son leave Louisville to come to Florida. There have been additional rumblings that Pitino was/is looking to get out of Louisville, which is why his name surfaced for the Sacramento Kings head coaching job opening last spring.
Here is what Pitino had to say, on the record, about his son coming to Florida last May. “It was the toughest conversation I’ve ever had with any coach, now my son … but I told him that you have the same exact first name, the same exact last name you have the opportunity to work under someone I love, somebody that’s going to teach you an awful lot, a great place and you can do your own thing. You’ve been around me since you were a little kid, you’ve sat on the Knick benches, the Celtic benches, the Kentucky benches and you’ve been around basketball all of your life. It would be a great treat. He would not have done it under anybody other than Billy Donovan. So to me it’s just an unbelievable treat to have him with Billy.”