Billy Donovan, the winningest coach in University of Florida men's basketball history, has been named the head coach of the NBA's Orlando Magic, the organization announced Thursday evening.
"We certainly wish this run could have gone on forever, it's been an incredible privilege to be a part of." said University of Florida athletics director Jeremy Foley. "We're indebted to Billy Donovan. We hired him 11 years ago to build Florida basketball and he did that beyond anyone's expectations. We'll miss him as a coach, but we'll always be friends and remain close to Billy and his family. We know he has a lot more success in his future and we wish him the best in his new journey."
Donovan spent the last 11 seasons as head coach at the University of Florida, compiling a record of 261-103 (.717). He guided the Gators to nine straight 20-win seasons, a school-record nine consecutive NCAA Tournament berths, three trips to the NCAA Championship Game (2000, 2006, 2007) and back-to-back NCAA Men's Division I Championships in 2006 and 2007.
Last season (2006-07), Donovan's Florida team posted a 35-5 mark, setting a school-record for most wins during a single season. The Gators captured the Southeastern Conference regular season basketball title and the SEC Tournament championship for the third consecutive year. Florida then rolled through the NCAA Tournament, becoming the first Division I team to repeat as national champions since Duke accomplished the feat in 1991-92.
Donovan leaves Florida as the school's all-time winningest coach. Prior to Donovan?s arrival to Gainesville on Mar. 27, 1996, the University of Florida had just one SEC championship in 77 seasons. During his 11-year tenure (1996-2007), Donovan tallied three SEC regular season crowns (2000, 2001, 2007) and won back-to-back-to-back SEC Tournament titles (2005-07). He led the Gators to the school?s first-ever appearance in the National Championship Game in 2000 and their first-ever No. 1 national ranking (both AP and ESPN/USA Today polls) on Feb. 3, 2003. Donovan also became one of only three people (Dean Smith, Bobby Knight) to play in the NCAA Final Four and win the national title as a head coach.
Donovan began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of Kentucky in 1989-90. He spent five years on Rick Pitino's staff at Kentucky (1989-94), helping the Wildcats reach the NCAA Final Four in 1993. During his stay at UK, the Wildcats went 122-38 (.762).
In March of 1994, Donovan was named the head coach at Marshall University. He inherited a program that went 9-18 in 1993-94, but quickly turned things around. During his first year, Donovan guided the Thundering Herd to an 18-9 mark and a North Division title in the Southern Conference. In two seasons under Donovan, Marshall posted a record of 35-20 (.636).
Donovan played point guard at Providence College from 1983-87. Originally considered undersized and underdeveloped, Rick Pitino arrived in 1985 and the once part-time player thrived under the new system and finished his career as one of the premier players in Friars history. As a senior (1986-87), he averaged 20.6 ppg. and shot .409 (97-237) from three-point range. He earned honorable mention All-America (UPI) honors and led Providence on a magical ride to the 1987 NCAA Final Four. Donovan was led the Southeast Regional?s Most Outstanding Player. He was inducted into the Providence College Hall of Fame in June of 1999 and was named to the 10-man All-Time Providence Civic Center Team in January of 1999.
Originally selected in the third round (68th overall) of the 1987 NBA Draft by Utah, Donovan was waived by the Jazz during the preseason. After a brief stint in the CBA with Wyoming, Donovan signed as a free agent with the New York Knicks, where he saw action in 44 games during the 1987-88 season.
A native of Rockville Centre, N.Y., Donovan was born on May 30, 1965. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in general social studies from Providence in 1987. He and his wife, Christine, have four children, William (15), Hasbrouck (13), Bryan (10) and Connor (5).
The University of Florida will held a press conference with Athletics Director Jeremy Foley and Billy Donovan at 4 p.m. ET to be aired statewide on Sun Sports.
Story Courtesy: The University Of Florida Sports Information