Billy D doesn’t rule out coaching in NBA


Billy Donovan has proven more than loyal in building the Florida men’s basketball program through 17 seasons.

But in a candid interview with Dan LeBatard on AM 790 in Miami on Wednesday night, Donovan sounded like a coach still with an itch to work in the NBA someday.

When asked if he’s ruled out ever coaching in the NBA, Donovan said. “The one thing that I think is always intriguing the older I get is the fact that (the NBA) is just all about basketball. I love the practices, I love the games, I love doing individual instruction and breaking down tape and game planning and doing those things.

“Sometimes, I think, as you get older there is a lot of other things that you have to do here in college. For me, right now, I love Florida. I think the one thing that I’ve been fortunate of here is I’ve had the same athletic director, Jeremy Foley, since I first came here. He hired me and he’s still here. He’s wonderful and we have a great relationship.”

Donovan signed a three-year contact extension a year ago that pays him an average salary of $3.5 million per year through the end of the 2015-16 season. There is a $500,000 buyout, though both sides can terminate the contract without cause for a one-month window between March 1 and April 1.

In 2007, Donovan left Florida to accept a head coaching job with the Orlando Magic, but returned to Florida six days later after a change of heart. Donovan said in the radio interview it was a “gut feeling” to return to Florida. Family also played a role in the decision. Donovan’s two oldest children were just starting high school at the time, and in a Gainesville speaking engagement a few years ago, Donovan said “it’s very rare in this day and age in coaching to have one of your sons go through elementary school, middle school and high school in one city.”

Donovan’s two oldest children are now in college (his daughter Hasbrouck is on an equestrian scholarship at Auburn and son Billy is a walk-on with the UF men’s basketball team). He perhaps also is intrigued by the NBA after seeing the success his former players are having at the next level. There are 10 former Gators currently in the NBA and three (Joakim Noah, Al Horford and David Lee) are averaging double-doubles. It’s not a stretch to say Donovan could put together a roster of former players and build an NBA-playoff caliber ballclub.

Here’s what former Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said last month when asked if Donovan’s coaching style would be successful at the NBA level.

“He’d be great,” Van Gundy said. “There’s no doubt about it. I know the guy’s offense would translate great to the NBA level. He knows how to work to that level, that mentality because he’s coached a lot of pro-caliber players.”






  1. Coach Donovan has earned the right to pursue his personal goals and dreams without asking for permission from any of us.

    Yes, we would miss him tremendously and we would all love for him to retire from coaching as the all-time winningest coach in UF history but that still remains his decision.

    If or when he does decide to leave the Gators, we only need to thank him for making our basketball program one of the country’s elite programs in our football-crazed state and conference. And I hope the the UF and UAA administration add his statue outside the O’Dome to show him and his family how much gratitude Gators everywhere have for them.

    Coach D. is nothing but classy. Anything less from the rest of us would just be crass…

  2. Billy D is the man. What he has done for Florida basketball is unprecedented. Imagine a coach winning 2 national titles, playing for another, and being a competitor year in and year out in football at Indiana or Duke. That’s what Billy has done at UF in basketball!

  3. All of the aforementioned sentiments have validity. We can only thank Billy D, and we know he is the kind of person who speaks what is on his mind and answers questions honestly. Who could blame him for considering the NBA, it goes WITHOUT SAYING, which, I have a feeling he would agree, this was not the time to be talking about it….mistake for sure, we forgive him, he has an awful lot of chits! Last, what an AWESOME job he is doing this year, this team (of not that great talent) is SOOOOO much fun to watch, and so easy to love….I’m having a BALL already….not going to mention National Championship (oh….chit….I just did!) should have gone WITHOUT SAYING!

  4. Billy D may retire at Florida if the fans would show the same support they do for the football team. It’s pathetic how good our team is, yet how empty the ODome is on a regular basis. I’m sure it’s disheartening to him and the team to that. maybe it will get better during the SEC season. I sure hope so!
    That being said, even though we support the football team well, from what I’ve heard, we’ve sold the least amount of bowl tickets out of all the SEC teams going bowling. Again: what’s up with that?! We just went 11-1 after two dismal seasons, and we can’t sell out 10,000 or so tickets for the game? Pathetic!!!
    Come on Gators, support your teams!!!

  5. Nooooo! Seriously, Coach D has given us so much more than we could have ever imagined. As much as we would loathe the day, I, for one, support whatever his aspirations may be. Hopefully they are to coach at UF for his whole career, but if not, Godspeed Billy D!

  6. I can understand why Billy would want to just coach basketball which the NBA would provide him. He needs to remember that in the NBA you have the biggest collection of immature, hard headed athletes who rarely listen to a coach that makes less than they do.

    In college you have control over your talent and they listen to you. You simply do not have that in the NBA.

  7. @DCGator

    The haters are the same “fans” that don’t like Urban Myer anymore. That’s just plain hateful and stupid thinking. He(Billy and Urban) won us two National Titles. They earned the right to do whatever the hell they choose.

  8. Billy can get people to believe in Billyball at any level but his son is a walk on at Florida there is 3 years. I think it would take a change at AA before he would leave. He would have Orlando at the next level had he stayed and could have. Promises were made then and he is a man to keep his promises. Maybe way down the road but then again maybe not.

    and if he wins a 3rd NC maybe change the name of the O-Dome to the D-Dome, or at least incorporate his name onto the building.
    Hell, he made us relevant like we never were before in basketball.
    I hope he stays forever, and best wishes to him whatever he decides because he earned it!!!

  10. Donovan is the most underappreciated coach in college basketball. Despite his fat contract. I wouldn’t be suprised if he left for greener pastures. That’s what successful professionals do who feel unappreciated.

  11. The NBA is the classic example of the inmates running the asylum. Witness the Stan Van Gundy soap opera with Dwight Howard, Mike Brown with Kobe Bryant, Lebraun James with Cleveland and many more. Why any highly successful college coach would want to jump into that snake pit is beyond me.

  12. Billy coaches team basketball. He’s in charge. The NBA plays superstar basketball, with the players in charge. Why would Billy even think about going to the NBA? His endorsement was from Stan Van Gundy, who has a very similar coaching style to Billy, and look how long he lasted in the NBA.

  13. Here’s another non-event turned into a news story by Brockway and Gator Sports. The last one was the story about Donovan not breaking NCAA rules. I’ve got a great idea, why don’t we start spreading rumors that Donovan is leaving for the pros, right after this season, and see if we can ensure he loses out on any future recruits and possible turn a few of the current commits. Then maybe we can cause infighting and dysfunction between teammates. I didn’t see anything in that interview that would lead us to believe he’s going elsewhere and, if he was, do you think he would hint to it in the middle of the season. Come on, please stop writing articles that could hurt the hometown team.

  14. Great!!! Just when we get over the disasterous results accruing to his 4 day infatuation with the Magic—-don’t think every school he recruited against didn’t use his indecision as a weapon against him—we now start to hear more garbage just as the “best” recruit in America prepares to make his selection. is there a Death Wish somewhere??

  15. None of the comments here even touched on the relevant issue. Donovan’s quote “He (Foley) hired me and he’s still here. He’s wonderful and we have a great relationship.” Translation: when Foley leaves look for Donovan to leave. As a long time Gator, I would love to see him retire at Florida. However, for what he has done for Gator basketball he is entitled to follow whatever path he desires. And I also think he has earned whatever other accolades Florida might bestow on him, whether that is a statue or renaming the O’Dome, then so be it.

  16. I listened to the interview live. And the suggestion by this article, slight albeit, that he is considering the NBA, is LUDICROUS! He touched on a number of topics and was asked if he had ruled out the NBA and gave a very honest answer. He basically said that as a basketball coach it’s interesting that the NBA is all basketball. NOWHERE in the interview did he even remotely hint that he had an “itch” to give it a run. A BASKETBALL coach saying the NBA is interesting in no way, shape, or form suggests that he has an itch to jump. Further, Donovan works for the top Athletic Director in the country in Jeremy Foley. As long as Foley is at UF it’s a long shot that Billy D turns away from the arrangement he presently has.

    I’m not suggesting that he will never go to the NBA. I’m just saying that his interview with LeBatard did NOT suggest that it’s presently on his mind.

    I find Brockways story to be sensationalistic to a high degree.

  17. Listen to the whole interview. If there was any indication that he was thinking about leaving I did not hear it. This article only includes a piece of the interview and i think its out of context.Really for a guy like Donavan why would he say “never” to going to the NBA when he is that young and you never know what you may be feeling years from now?? If he was 65 or older then he can shut the door!

  18. William Donovan is becoming an elite college coach. He has reached that level in his evolution. Originally he thought if he brought in enough three point shooters, regardless of their athletic ability the offense he designed would be successful in the NCAAs. Over time he learned the years he was successful in the NCAAs was when his teams were athletic and could defend and compete against good defenses. He went on long NCAA success droughts when he continued to try and put teams with just shooters on the court. I always stated publicly Billy Ball would have to give way to a team able to score in and around the rim, setting up timely shooting. More importantly, had enough athletes on the floor who could defend at a high level. His recruiting and the team has put out on the floor the last couple of years his great experiment of being Duke of the deep south is over. While he has grown in the college game and is recruiting athletes now, he is still not ready for the NBA. He was scared to death of it when he took the Magic job and he is still scared to death. The NBA is too big for Billy. He doesn’t have the crass and crustiness of a top NBA coach. They are hardened men with a way with urban athletes. While Billy is from Long Island, I never felt he connect well with the urban athlete. Rosario and Noah, withstanding. Over all his years at the former Long Island boy was never that successful at getting ballers from the northeast metro cities, Chicago, Detroit, or other regions that put out the top talent perennially. He is more comfortable with the suburban and southern kids, with a little less moxie than the urban players, who make up a good amount of the NBA rosters. College is home. The NBA would break him within 3 years.