Florida men’s basketball coach Billy Donovan built a strong friendship with Urban Meyer during their six years working on the same campus.
The two are neighbors who live in adjoining houses on the same Haile Plantation Cul de Sac. They attend the same Catholic church in Gainesville. Both have families with teengage and pre-teen children.
“Urban is a close friend of mine, and coaching aside, I care more about Urban Meyer the person,” Donovan said in a statement released on the Florida men’s basketball Twitter account. “My main concern is for he and his family and their peace. As long as he is at peace with his decision, then I’m happy for he and his family.”
Donovan somewhat foreshadowed the pressures Meyer faced when he resigned for a day six months ago. Last December, Meyer cited health and family reasons for his decision to leave. This time, Meyer said it was strictly family reasons.
Donovan said last December he could relate to Meyer’s family issues because it’s something he’s faced every day in his 15 years as Florida coach.
“I don’t think people really understand what happens and what goes on, and I think at least hearing some of Urban’s comments when he initially was going to step away, I can certainly relate and understand …,” Donovan said last December. “It’s very hard to balance – it’s nearly impossible to balance – because you are living with yourself knowing there is more you can be doing. And when you get put into situations every single day, every minute of every day, to make a decision between your wife, your kids and your job, and then when you spend time with one of them, you worry about neglecting the other one, it is an incredible emotional drain.”
Donovan said the pressure to win combined with the pressure to keep your family happy is a difficult balance. He admitted that early in his UF career, he didn’t balance career and family properly. Now Donovan said he has found a better balance between the two.
“You put a lot of pressure on yourself more so than anything else,” Donovan said. “You hold yourself accountable and responsible in a lot of different ways – you feel a tremendous sense of obligation to this institution, to the fans and the people because it’s a great, great place.
“And you know you’re living it every single day. People think when the season ends, oh, it’s just great to get away. Sometimes the off-seasons are more difficult than the season actually is itself.”