How far does Billy D bend rules?


Take it for what it’s worth. In a survey based on anonymous comments from college coaches, Florida coach Billy Donovan ranked second as the coach who can best “bend but not break the rules.”

Who was first? No surprise, Kentucky coach John Calipari. Others on the list included Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Arizona’s Sean Miller, North Carolina’s Roy Williams, and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo. That’s a pretty heavy hitting lineup, one that, including Donovan, has combined for 11 national titles.

One anonymous source cited Donovan’s Elite Camps, which he holds for incoming recruits in early August, as an example of finding loopholes in the system. “Billy is, or at least he used to be, the best,” an anonymous source told “He’s the one who came up with the idea of elite camps. He’s just really smart. He knows how to get things done.”’s Gary Parrish first brought up the subject of Elite Camps in 2008, quoting Donovan. Parrish implied in the story a wink-wink agreement in which an AAU coach receives a speaking fee, then turns around and uses some of that money to fund travel expenses for his top prospects to visit a campus. “You say, ‘Listen, what are some creative ways to get some guys on campus?'” Donovan said in the story. “Either you are allowed to do something or you are not allowed to do something, and if you are allowed to do it then it just comes down to your own personal judgment of whether you want to do it or not. But it’s all just people trying to be creative.”

Donovan dealt with accusations of cheating early in his UF tenure, ranging from former South Carolina/Vanderbilt coach Eddie Fogler to Kansans-turned-North Carolina coach Williams to Stanford-turned-California coach Mike Montgomery. All were unfounded. An NCAA inquiry in 2001, similar to what the Tennessee basketball program went through before it ultimately fired Bruce Pearl, revealed only secondary violations.

Based on a public record request I filed and received, Florida has reported 15 secondary violations in men’s basketball between 2003-11. Most were minor infractions. The most serious involved a player receiving $2,000 in benefits from his former eighth and ninth-grade AAU coach. The player, whose name was redacted in the report, was disassociated from the program (the violation was reported Jan. 7, 2005, but I was told it involved a player who was on the team before I started covering the Gators in 2003).

The facts suggest that Donovan is a coach who bends the margins, but doesn’t break them.  Recruiting is competitive at the Division I level, and all coaches are looking for an edge.

Your thoughts?










  1. Is bending the rules like driving 67 mph in a 60 mph zone? No. You can get pulled if you’re over the limit, period. Just like Billy D said, “Either you’re allowed to do something or you’re not allowed to do something…” It’s too bad you want to cast a shadow of deceit over Billy Donovan’s work at UF. You pundits slay me sometimes.

  2. I think this is simply the game, and I regard Billy as a high character guy who runs a classy program. I think earlier in his career in order to make us into an elite program if you didn’t get creative about bending rules we don’t win 2national championships, and we’d have cycled thru a few coaches and be a mediocre SEC basketball program…

  3. There’s no proof of NCAA violations. Anonymous comments from coaches is not proof of anything. If there was any proof of NCAA violations you can rest assured that a competing coach would pull a hamstring running to the phone to call the NCAA.

  4. Take it easy, guys. Nobody said he cheats or does anything wrong. They just said he bends the rule legally. So I don’t see this as casting any shadow of deceit on anyone. He’s pointing out that Billy D is great at doing his job to best of his ability which is better than most!

  5. I BELIEVE in BILLY ‘D’ like I believed in Coach Spurruer, and now I BELIEVE in COACH ‘D’ more than any other on The University of Florida campus, other than perhaps the Staff at Shands Hospital. I do believe the article casts a NEGATIVE LIGHT on such a POSITIVE PERSON & COACH, and that in of itself is a shame! Coach ‘D’ is a TREE with FRUIT in it, and JEALOUS MEN throw ROCKS at TREES like Billy ‘D’. How’s aobut a story on Florida Basketball’s AMZING RUN SINCE BILLY ‘D’ took over, or the AMAZING RUN THAT FLORIDA BASKETBALL is about to have soon! …Come on Gainesville Sun and Brock…you all can DO MUCH BETTER!

  6. I can’t wait for College Football, it will make stories like this footnotes on the last page. I would think you have met Billy D and you should know this guy is a classy and caring coach. To write an article shedding any doubt on his integrity based on annnymous comments only discredits the writer of this article. Like a previous comment says, if he was doing ANYTHING wrong that they had any proof of, they would be pulling the info on a banner behind a plane letting the whole world know. GO Gators! Go Billy!

  7. This is why I stopped reading Gator Sports. I started checking it again recently, but that’s going to stop. Why, why, why would you write this? If Billy broke the rules, then that would be a story (a story some other paper should write), but none the less, a story. Here’s another story you can write: Muschamp is not an alien. Many have said he could be, but reports show he is not from another planet. The jury is still out on many Gainesville Sun reporters.

  8. Agreed w above, this piece has a negative vibe, how can you say “bending the rules”. Either rules are broken or not, black and white. If a rule is not broken, why is this even reported? Is it because CBSSports did a stupid survey? Where is any sense of timing? Great things have been happening w the baseketball program and this? Last week Robbie does a story on who should be thinking of going to the NFL and haven’t even played a down this year, not to mention our record the last two years. These kids have a job to do here at UF and we are more worried about draft status?…simply remarkable.

  9. I think this is a valid piece of reporting. An outside source such as CBSSports has a story in which Billy comes off negatively, and now Kevin has done a bit of further research, in which he does show that the basketball program has been run pretty cleanly – believe me 15 2ndary infractions is nothing. Still, the truth is that Billy has been innovative in finding ways to create relationships with prospective players, and this has pushed practices in new directions outside of what was traditionally done by other coaches/programs. Maybe he is not ‘bending’ the rules, but he is bending practices to get a leg up for our program. Like uflajeff says, it’s like lawyers finding loopholes and exercising them creatively.
    The purpose of the article is to see how the Gator faithful feel about interpretations of these practices, as it is likely to become a target of more stories.

  10. Kevin,no rules have been broken,no rules bent.Why don’t you go back to St. Johns and report there.Keep doing what you do coach D we love you here in Gator do so many positive things here in G’ville.We respect and admire you. GO GATORS!!!!!

  11. Kevin, don’t worry about the fans who don’t follow college basketball and only post negative comments anytime anyone anywhere hints about some trivial thing that they may take offense to. Coach Donovan was pictured in the CBSSPORTS.COM article that followed up the one you linked too (see link below) in the article; which I would guess none of the above commenters have actually checked out. It was certainly appropriate to address this subject on a blog about Florida basketball, especially in the summer when things are slow. I’m impressed that you did it the next day showing that you are both diligent and efficient; and you did it honestly with a positive Gator spin. I don’t see why even the biggest homers are upset. Keep up the good work.

  12. I read the CBS article and they are essentially saying that a lot of big name coaches follow the letter of the law but not necessarily the spirit of the law. Billy has been in the business quite awhile and his programs have never been cited for a major violation during his tenure. Calipari, however, is a different story. I’d use velcro to hang last years NCAA banner.

  13. Yes, and Harry Reid says an anonymous source told hiim Romney didnt pay taxes for 10 years. That is a load of unfounded B.S. too.

    If you have an actual accusation why don’t you put it out there you or else zip it up.

  14. Secondary violations are like parking tickets. Bama had 27 secondary violations last year (all sports), so Billy having 15 in 9 years is next to nothing.
    Really, our program is so clean you could eat off of it.

  15. All Gators should be proud that the UF athletic program as a whole has a remarkably “clean” compliance record for a school that competes at the highest level nationally. Not perfect, but clean. I think that is a credit to Jeremy Foley, and the standards he has set for both on field performance and rules compliance. It also appears that UF is cleaning up the off field legal issues that have palgued it for a while. At the ned of the day, we all want to be able to say we are proud to be Gators, and not just based on winning games.

  16. The CBS article doesn’t really characterize what Billy, K, Crean, etc. (Cal is in a different category in my opinion) do as “bending” the rules. It characterizes it more as guys who know the rules so well, they know what they can legally do and not do better than most coaches. They use that knowledge to their advantage. That is as it should be.

  17. This is NOT an attack article. I agree with the comments Alcavman and Mark posted. Kevin is “reporting” a CBSSPORTS poll of COLLEGE COACHES. This is very much worthy of reporting and then he investigated and reported the results of his research and because this is a blog opened it up to “the masses” for their thoughts. All of you who are adamantly supporting Coach Donovan (and well worthy of our support!!) by attacking Kevin for reporting this are missing the point…in my opinion.