Billy Donovan, left, and the 2006–07 Gators, with U.S. President George W. Bush at the White House in 2007.
May 30, 1965 |
Rockville Centre, New York
New York Knicks
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|Head coaching record|
|Accomplishments and honors|
NCAA Men's Basketball Championships
NCAA Regional Championships - Final Four
(2000, 2006, 2007)
SEC Tournament Championships
(2005, 2006, 2007)
SEC Regular Season Championships
(2000, 2001, 2007, 2011, 2013)
SoCon Coach of the Year (1995)
ESPN.com National Coach of the Year (2001)
Amos Alonzo Stagg Coaching Award (2006)
John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award (2010)
SEC Coach of the Year (2011, 2013)
William John Donovan, Jr. (born May 30, 1965) is an American college basketball coach and a former college and professional basketball player. Donovan is the head coach of the Florida Gators men's basketball team of the University of Florida. He is best known for leading the Florida Gators to two consecutive National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) national championships.
Donovan has coached the Gators in three NCAA championship game appearances in 2000, 2006 and 2007. The Gators lost to the Michigan State Spartans in the 2000 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball final. The Gators won the national championship in 2006 with a 73–57 win over UCLA and again in 2007 with an 84–75 win over the Ohio State Buckeyes, making Donovan the first coach since Mike Krzyzewski to win two NCAA titles in a row. He is one of only four men (Dean Smith, Joe B. Hall and Bobby Knight being the others) to appear in the NCAA Final Four as a player and win the NCAA national championship as a coach.
After a brief stint as head coach of the Orlando Magic that lasted only five days, Donovan re-signed with the Gators on June 7, 2007. The deal made him the highest-paid head coach in college basketball at $3.5 million per year.
Playing career 
Donovan was born and raised in Rockville Centre on Long Island, New York. He is the son of Bill Donovan, Sr., one of the three leading scorers in the history of the Boston College Eagles men's basketball program. Donovan graduated from St. Agnes Cathedral High School—a local powerhouse where he was coached by the legendary Frank Morris—in 1983 before going on to Providence College, where he played guard on the basketball team. His first two seasons with the Friars were unimpressive; he scored an average of two points per game as a freshman and three points as a sophomore. His junior year, however, Donovan flourished in the system of new head coach Rick Pitino. "Billy the Kid," as Providence fans soon nicknamed him (after the 19th century outlaw), averaged 15.1 points as a junior and 20.6 as a senior, when he led the Friars to the Final Four and earned the Southeast Regional Most Valuable Player honors.
Donovan was drafted by the Utah Jazz in the third round (68th overall) of the 1987 NBA Draft. He was waived after the preseason and played briefly for the Wyoming Wildcatters of the Continental Basketball Association. He then signed a one-year contract with the New York Knicks, coached by Pitino. Donovan averaged 2.4 points and 2.0 assists over 44 games with the Knicks.
Coaching career 
After an unsuccessful year playing for Pitino on the New York Knicks, Donovan worked for a Wall Street investment firm before joining Pitino as an assistant coach at the University of Kentucky in 1989. His success there secured him the head coaching job at Marshall University.
Marshall University 
Donovan's first season as the Marshall University head coach saw him turn around a Marshall Thundering Herd team that had finished 9–18 the season before his arrival. In 1994–95, the Herd doubled its wins from the previous year to go 18–9 and win the Southern Conference North Division.
His first full recruiting class at Marshall included a high-profile local recruit, point guard Jason Williams. In Donovan's second season, 1995–96, the team went 17–11, and led the Southern Conference in scoring and three-point field goals.
In two years at Marshall, his Herd teams compiled a 35–20 record and a conference division championship.
University of Florida 
In 1996 Donovan took over head coaching duties at University of Florida, whose Florida Gators men's basketball team had slipped from its peak during its 1994 NCAA Final Four appearance under previous coach Lon Kruger. Donovan took the Gators to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) in his second season, 1997–98. The following season saw the team make its third-ever NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance and become only the second squad in school history to appear in the top 25 of the final polls (No. 17 in the ESPN/USA Today Poll and No. 23 in the Associated Press Poll).
The next season, 1999–2000, saw Donovan lead the Gators to an SEC Championship and their second NCAA Final Four appearance, defeating North Carolina in the national semi-finals before falling to Michigan State in the NCAA championship game.
The Gators again won the SEC regular season championship during the 2000–01 season.
The Gators were invited to the NCAA Tournament in every season between 1999 and 2007, a streak of nine straight appearances; in eight decades of Florida men's basketball prior to Donovan's arrival, the school had never reached the Tournament more than three consecutive years. On February 3, 2003, the team achieved a No. 1 ranking in the ESPN/USA Today poll for the first time in school history, returning there the following season on December 8, 2003.
The 2004–05 season was highlighted by Florida defeating Kentucky 70–53 to win the SEC Tournament Championship, a first for the Gators.
In the 2005–06 season, Donovan's young Gator squad posted the school's best-ever win streak to start a single season, reeling off seventeen straight wins and reaching No. 2 in the nation in the AP Poll. However, the team failed to reach the top spot as they lost its first SEC game of the season to the Tennessee Volunteers. This loss was followed by a surprising season sweep at the hands of the eventual 2006 National Invitation Tournament champion South Carolina Gamecocks. Florida avenged those losses by ending South Carolina's surprising SEC Tournament run in the finals, winning the SEC Tournament championship. The 2005–06 season was the most successful in the history of both Donovan and Florida basketball, as the Gators defeated UCLA 73–57 in the NCAA championship game, winning the school's first NCAA title.
On December 20, 2006, Donovan became the winningest basketball coach in Florida history, earning his 236th win as Florida's coach in a romp over the Stetson Hatters, and thereby surpassing Norm Sloan's 235 wins. During the 2006–07 season, with the return of all his starting five from the 2005–06 team (Lee Humphrey, Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Corey Brewer, and Taurean Green), the Gators pulled off a championship trifecta by winning the Southeastern Conference regular season title, SEC Tournament title, and their second straight NCAA Tournament.
With the return of the entire 2006 championship team, the Gators were named preseason favorites to repeat by many media pundits. The Gators raced out of the gates, losing just two non-conference ballgames (vs. Kansas and at Florida State). The 2007 Gators looked even more mature in terms of their unselfishness, passing and shooting abilities and overall team play. Although the Gators sputtered down the stretch during SEC play, losing three of four games beginning with a loss at Vanderbilt, the team rebounded with its sixth consecutive win over its arch-rivals, the Kentucky Wildcats, to regain momentum. The Gators went on to win the SEC Tournament once again with dominating performances, culminating in a win over the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Florida earned the number one overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and defeated Jackson State, Purdue, Butler and Oregon to reach the Final Four. In a rematch of the 2006 title game against UCLA, Donovan's Gators prevailed 76–66. The Gators secured their repeat championship two nights later with an emphatic 84–75 victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes, coached by Thad Matta. Just three months prior, the Gator football team had defeated the Buckeyes in the BCS Championship Game. Florida became the first team in NCAA history to win both the football and basketball national championships in the same sports calendar "season" (year).
Short-lived Orlando Magic stint 
During Florida's second title run it was rumored that Donovan was interested in coaching the University of Kentucky. After winning the National Championship, Donovan declined and said he wanted to work out an extension to stay at Florida. However, in late May, Donovan was offered the Orlando Magic head coaching job. On May 31, 2007, Donovan accepted the head coaching position for the Orlando Magic of the National Basketball Association (NBA) in a deal reported to be worth $27.5 million over five years, and announced his acceptance of the head coaching job on June 1, 2007. Donovan replaced Brian Hill, who was fired after two consecutive losing seasons. Hill's ouster followed the Magic's first playoff appearance in four years, which ended in the first round against Detroit. Donovan signed the contract June 1, officially making him Magic head coach. Florida then contacted Anthony Grant (who at the time was the head coach at Virginia Commonwealth University and a former assistant coach under Donovan, and who, coincidentally, would end up joining the SEC anyway in 2009 as Alabama's head coach) to offer him the job.
But, on the morning of June 2, 2007, Donovan informed the Magic and the Gators that he was having second thoughts about leaving the University of Florida. On June 6, the Magic came to an agreement with Donovan to release him from his contract, leaving him free to rejoin the Gators basketball team. As a stipulation of his release, he reportedly agreed not to coach in the NBA for the following five seasons.
University of Florida (2007–present) 
Despite the loss of all five starters from the previous year, the Gators surprised many pundits with Donovan's tenth straight twenty-win season. However, after an 18–3 start, the team struggled during the final third of the season, winning just three of its last eleven games and snapping the Gators' nine-year streak of NCAA Tournament invitations. The young Gator team rebounded to reach the semifinals of the 2008 National Invitation Tournament (NIT), where they were defeated by UMass Minutemen.
The 2008–09 Gators started out the season ranked No. 19 and 5–0 before falling to Syracuse. A loss two weeks later to the Florida State Seminoles knocked the Gators out of the top twenty-five ranked teams. Though the team won twenty-two regular season games, it once again was not enough to earn a bid to the NCAA tournament. However, the Gators were given a number one seed in the 2009 NIT, where they lost to the Penn State Nittany Lions in the quarterfinals.
The Gators returned to the NCAA tournament during the 2009–2010 season, but lost in the first round to the BYU Cougars in double overtime. During the season, Florida defeated Florida State, ending a three-game losing streak to the Seminoles. They also defeated Michigan State, a preseason favorite to win the NCAA tournament and an eventual Final Four team, en route to winning the 2009 Legends Classic tournament.
With three returning senior starters, the 2010–11 Gators posted an improved record. They won the SEC regular season title, and were the runners-up in the 2011 SEC Tournament. In the 2011 NCAA Tournament, the Gators defeated the Jimmer Fredette-led BYU Cougars, before losing in overtime to the Butler Bulldogs in the Elite Eight.
On March 8, 2011, Donovan was named the 2011 SEC Coach of the Year. Despite appearing in three national title games and winning two national titles, it was Donovan's first time winning the award. Gators forward Chandler Parsons also became the first Gator to ever win SEC Player of the Year honors.
The 2011–12 Gators were again invited to the NCAA Tournament, this time as a 7 seed. They defeated the tenth-seeded Virginia Cavaliers and fifteenth-seeded Norfolk State (who had beaten second-seeded Missouri) to advance to the Sweet Sixteen, then defeated Marquette 68-58 to return to the Elite Eight for the second straight year. In the Elite Eight, Donovan and the Gators faced off against Louisville and Donovan's former coach, Rick Pitino. The Gators fell in a very close game, 68-72.
Donovan recorded his 400th career victory at the University of Florida on January 19, 2013 with an 83–52 win over the Missouri Tigers.
Coaching protégés 
Several of Donovan's assistants have become college head coaches in recent years. One of Donovan's former assistants currently serves as a head coach with Donovan in the Southeastern Conference. The following head coaches all spent time under Donovan at Florida:
- Anthony Grant, currently at University of Alabama
- Donnie Jones, currently at University of Central Florida
- Shaka Smart, currently at Virginia Commonwealth University
- Lewis Preston, currently at Kennesaw State University
- Richard Pitino, currently at Minnesota
Former players in the NBA 
Several of Donovan's former Gators players have been selected in the NBA Draft or signed as members of National Basketball Association (NBA) teams, including seven first-round NBA draft picks. These former Gators players include:
- Bradley Beal (1st round, 3rd pick, 2012 NBA Draft)
- Matt Bonner (2nd round, 45th pick, 2003 NBA Draft)
- Corey Brewer (1st round, 7th pick, 2007 NBA Draft)
- Donnell Harvey (1st round, 22nd pick, 2000 NBA Draft)
- Udonis Haslem (2003 undrafted free agent)
- Al Horford (1st round, 3rd pick, 2007 NBA Draft)
- David Lee (1st round, 30th pick, 2005 NBA Draft)
- Vernon Macklin (2nd round, 52nd pick, 2011 NBA Draft)
- Mike Miller (1st round, 5th pick, 2000 NBA Draft)
- Joakim Noah (1st round, 9th pick, 2007 NBA Draft)
- Chandler Parsons (2nd round, 38th pick, 2011 NBA Draft)
- Marreese Speights (1st round, 18th pick, 2008 NBA Draft)
- Jason Williams (1st round, 7th pick, 1998 NBA Draft)
The United States Sports Academy presented Donovan with the Amos Alonzo Stagg Award in 2006. Donovan was the recipient of the John R. Wooden Award's "Legends of Coaching Award" in 2010. Donovan was recognized by his peers as the 2011 SEC Coach of the Year.
Personal life 
Donovan married his wife, Christine, in 1990. The Donovans have four children: William III, Hasbrouck, Bryan and Connor. Donovan is a Roman Catholic. He has been described as conservative by some of his players and in the media. However, he is a registered independent.
In October 2008, coach Billy Donovan and then-head Florida Gators football coach Urban Meyer were named co-chairmen of an effort to raise $50 million to support the Florida Opportunity Scholars Program. The Florida Opportunity Scholars Program was created by University of Florida President Bernie Machen in 2006, and is intended to increase the opportunities for academically prepared first-generation students who have experience significantly different needs and financial challenges.
Head coaching record 
|Marshall Thundering Herd (Southern Conference) (1994–1996)|
|Florida Gators (Southeastern Conference) (1996–present)|
|1997–98||Florida||14–15||6–10||6th (East)||NIT 1st Round|
|1998–99||Florida||22–9||10–6||3rd (East)||NCAA Sweet Sixteen|
|1999–00||Florida||29–8||12–4||T–1st (East)||NCAA Runner-up|
|2000–01||Florida||24–7||12–4||T–1st (East)||NCAA 2nd Round|
|2001–02||Florida||22–9||10–6||T–1st (East)||NCAA 1st Round|
|2002–03||Florida||25–8||12–4||2nd (East)||NCAA 2nd Round|
|2003–04||Florida||20–11||9–7||2nd (East)||NCAA 1st Round|
|2004–05||Florida||24–8||12–4||2nd (East)||NCAA 2nd Round|
|2005–06||Florida||33–6||10–6||2nd (East)||NCAA Champions|
|2006–07||Florida||35–5||13–3||1st (East)||NCAA Champions|
|2007–08||Florida||24–12||8–8||4th (East)||NIT Semifinals|
|2008–09||Florida||25–11||9–7||3rd (East)||NIT Quarterfinals|
|2009–10||Florida||21–13||9–7||4th (East)||NCAA 1st Round|
|2010–11||Florida||29–8||13–3||1st (East)||NCAA Elite Eight|
|2011–12||Florida||26–11||10–6||T–2nd||NCAA Elite Eight|
|2012–13||Florida||29–8||14–4||1st||NCAA Elite Eight|
National champion Conference regular season champion Conference tournament champion
See also 
- Florida Gators
- History of the University of Florida
- List of NCAA Men's Division I Final Four appearances by coach
- List of Providence College people
- Marshall Thundering Herd
- Providence Friars
- University Athletic Association
- Joe Drape (2000-04-04). "Michigan State wins title". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-13.
- 2007 March « TicketCity Blog - Find Great Ticket Deals!
- Winning pays off (2007-06-07). "Winning pays off". Gainesville Sun. Retrieved 2007-06-07.
- Hermoso, Rafael, "COLLEGE BASKETBALL: SOUTH; Easy Part For Florida Is Playing The Game," The New York Times, March 18, 2001. Accessed November 25, 2007.
- Donovan becomes the winningest head coach in Florida history
- Steve Wieberg (2007-03-31). "2007 Final Four". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-01-13.
- Brian Schmitz (2007-06-01). "Orlando Magic hire Billy Donovan as coach". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2007-06-01.
- ESPN.com news services (2007-06-04). "Source: Donovan has second thoughts about Magic job". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2007-06-04.
- Reports: Donovan Almost Out, Van Gundy Almost In for Magic, NBA.com. Retrieved on June 5, 2007.
- Associated Press (2007-06-06). "Magic release Donovan from contract". Associated Press. Retrieved 2007-06-06.[dead link]
- Rivals.com Basketball Recruiting Staff (2007-10-24). "Gators have top recruiting class". Rivals.com. Retrieved 2008-01-13.
- Orlandosentinel.com Florida Gators
- "Amos Alonzo Stagg Coaching Award". ASAMA - The American Sport Art Museum and Archives. Retrieved 06 Oct 2012.
- http://premierespeakers.com/billy_donovan Billy Donovan Head Men's Basketball Coach, University of Florida
- Erik Brady (2006-10-27). "Florida's Noah molding his own destiny in Gators' quest for back-to-back titles". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-03-19.
- Janine Young Sikes (2004-08-01). "How do public figures vote?". Gainesville Sun. Retrieved 2008-03-19.[dead link]
- Meyer & Donovan to raise funding
- Gainesville Sun article about the scholarship
- About the Scholarship Program
- UF Coaches lead the charge
- Billy Donovan's website at the University of Florida athletics site
- Billy Donovan at BasketballReference.com
- Video interview with Donovan at a May 2008 pediatric cancer research benefit hosted by Dick Vitale