Florida Gators coach Billy Donovan becomes second-youngest to 500 career wins

By Adam Silverstein
February 28, 2015

Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan on Saturday became the second-youngest coach in Division I college basketball history to reach 500 career victories.

Donovan (49 years, 271 days) joins former Indiana coach Bob Knight (48 years, 81 days) as the only other man in D-I history to achieve win No. 500 before his 50th birthday.

The vast majority of Donovan’s wins (465) have come with the Gators as he’s led Florida to four Final Fours, three appearances in the national title game and back-to-back NCAA National Championships in 2005-06 and 2006-07.

“You’re only as good as the people around you. It’s really the players, it’s the coaches that I’ve had here. I think people lose sight, a lot of times, that Jeremy [Foley]’s been here since I started. As an athletic director, there’s an incredible bond that he and I have in terms of a shared vision. Not to say we get along and agree on everything, but I think we’re always moving together in the right direction. So there’s been a lot of stability [with Foley and my assistant coaches]. … And there’s been a lot of really, really good players that have come through,” said Donovan after the game.


Entering this season, Donovan’s streak of 16 consecutive campaigns with 20+ victories was the longest in the Southeastern Conference and fifth-longest nationally. He is also one of only eight coaches that have ever won 20+ games in 14 or more consecutive seasons.

Despite his career of milestones and success, including six SEC regular-season titles and four SEC Tournament crowns, Donovan did not earn an SEC Coach of the Year nod until 2011. However, he’s won it three times in the last four campaigns with back-to-back awards in the last two seasons.

Donovan has still yet to receive a national coach of the year award despite his tremendous success, though he was honored with the John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award in 2010.

Nevertheless, his name was chanted by the Stephen C. O’Connell Center crowd just moments after he picked up his 500th win – a 66-49 victory over Tennessee – on Saturday.

“I’ve been part of at least a lot of unbelievable experiences in that building. For me personally, it was very, very meaningful,” Donovan said. “I thought there was a great crowd tonight. Obviously our team has struggled this year, and for the amount of people to come out and watch our team play, I’m very, very appreciative and very thankful for that. I thought we had a great environment, great crowd. To kind of be honored like that at the end of the game was extremely touching, and I was very, very thankful for that.”

Florida announced a contract extension with Donovan, keeping the coach with the Gators through the 2018-19 campaign, in March 2014.

Asked whether he hopes to double his career victories and achieve 1,000 before hanging up his tie, Donovan quipped that he is wondering whether he can just pick up one more win.

“I don’t know if I can get to 501 right now, you know what I mean?” he said.

“I started when I was relatively young. I still really enjoy doing this. I really do. I get great pleasure from coaching. I enjoy the games and I enjoy the preparation and I enjoy practice and those kinds of things. For me, how much longer I go, I don’t know, but I do enjoy it.”

11 Comments

  1. Ken (CA) says:

    Congrats to the team for finally getting it together and congrats to Billy, but oh how bittersweet it must be with this team.

    I guess he might have gotten there faster if his “Billy Ball” style of play weren’t so terrible and all of his teams didn’t have such low basketball IQ.

    • Gator84 says:

      Ken (CA)…..you must be a bitter person.
      Did the point spread get you?
      Over/Under on when he would have gotten to # 500?
      Do all US Gators a favor, don’t guess and as for such
      a low basketball IQ, I suggest you look in the mirror.
      GO GATORS!
      Congrats to Coach Billy D. on #500!

      • Ken (CA) says:

        lol, not bitter at all. You must have not seen previous comments by Michael Jones that constantly tear down Billy Donovan as a coach, he “loves him as a person”, but hates his style of coaching. I was referencing his absurd commentary that Billy was a bad coach. Billy has made UF relevant in hoops in a place where it was never thought it could happen, and has been consistent year after year in high quality level of play and ability to compete with anyone;

        I just hate (as do others here who have commented) Michael Jones constantly deriding Billy Donovan skill as a coach.

        I was making a sarcastic comment to his opinion, because he thinks most Billy teams are worthless and inconsequential. except for 3-4 teams in the past 20 years. It is ridiculously stupid idea and opinion, so I point out when I can how ridiculous it is.

        • Michael Jones says:

          Stop obsessing over me and enjoy the big win. I’m happy for Billy and I’m happy for U.F. As for your paraphrasing of my comments, they are as sad as your obsession with them.

          Is this how you handle it every time someone has a difference of opinion with you? Constantly whine, piss, bitch and moan about it until they change their mind? Get a grip, bro.

          Quite frankly I don’t think YOU have the basketball IQ to even engage in this debate. But, in any event, try somehow to find a way to go on with your life and get past the terrible pain I’ve caused you.

          Enjoy the W. I’m sure that we’ll be celebrating the 1000th win very soon.

          P.S. Lon Kruger made Gator basketball relevant. It was ridiculous that it took that long for it to happen given all of the talent in this state (which too often still chooses to go elsewhere). Billy did a good job of continuing and building on what Kruger started. Feel better?

          • uf_84 says:

            LMAO! Lon Kruger? Really? Actually it was Norm Sloan who put UF BB on the map leading us to the NCAA tourney for the first time ever three times in the late 80’s and an SEC regular season title in 89. Yeah Kruger led us to the final four in 94 but that was the only team he had that even won 20 games in his 6 years as UF head coach. Every other Gator team he had before or after that was average at best (By the way, what’s he done since anywhere else he’s been?). To say Donovan continued what Kruger started is a total joke. In fact Kruger doesn’t deserve to even be mentioned in the same breath with Donovan IMO.

            • Ken (CA) says:

              What do you expect? Donovan can’t get credit for anything except his “fluke” teams. No matter that the analysts as a consensus believe him to be the best coach in the country right now. GatorAlum88 lays it all out below. The facts speak for themselves. Clearly he is doing quite a lot of things correctly to become the 2nd youngest coach in history to 500 wins. The fact that he had 16 straight 20 wins seasons after having to “repair” Lon Kruger’s left behind garbage in his first couple of seasons and find kids that could actually play consistently, isn’t relevant to the storyline.

      • Michael Jones says:

        lol. . Couldn’t agree more, Gator84. A very bitter man. Sad, really.

  2. uf_84 says:

    Congratulations Coach Donovan. What you have accomplished with this UF basketball program is nothing short of amazing!!

  3. Michael Jones says:

    Where are all the Kurtz bashers? All of the “water boy” and “ball boy” pundits? I’m sure that you’ll have the intellectual integrity to come on this site and retract your criticisms of him today. . . just as soon as pigs start flying.

  4. Gatoralum88 says:

    Congrats Billy D! Despite this disastrous season, when you compare & consider what Billy has done in 19 years to 77 years prior to his arrival at UF his accomplishments have been INCREDIBLE!!! :

    NCAA Championships: 2 to 0
    Title game appearances: 3 to 0
    Final Four appearances: 4 to 1
    NCAA tourney wins: 35 to 4
    20 win seasons: 16 to 5
    30 win seasons: 3 to 0
    SEC Championships: 6 to 1
    SEC Tourney titles: 4 to 0
    NBA 1st round picks: 9 to 2
    McDonald AA’s signed: 17 to 3
    Weeks ranked in Top 10: 139 to 12
    Weeks ranked #1: 10 to 0
    & perhaps most importantly…
    Average wins per season: 25 to 12!!!

    Billy’s record speaks for itself & it’s idiotic to think otherwise. Gatornation is lucky to have him. By the time he’s done he’ll be thought of as one of the best ever. A DEFINITE future Hall of Fame Head coach. Go Gators!

  5. INGATORSWETRUST says:

    Congrats to Billy D.

    Any coach could come in and carry on a tradition of winning at a Kentucky, but to make Florida basketball relevant nationally for such a long period of time is truly a tremendous accomplishment. I also admire that he does not put winning first and requires that his players develop as men both on and off the court. Preparing players for life is just as important as winning a basketball game, and Billy has not sold out his soul simply to win a basketball game. We are lucky to have him. I’m just as proud of the basketball alumni in the pros, as I am of the our team. Thanks for making basketball fun to watch these many years.

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