St. John’s makes initial contact with Donovan

By Adam Silverstein
March 21, 2010

The New York Post confirmed Sunday that St. John’s University has indeed made initial contact University of Florida head basketball coach Billy Donovan about filling their job opening. According to the Post’s sources, Donovan spoke with a Red Storm booster late Friday and “was intrigued by what he heard.”

Nevertheless, it would take a lot (and certainly a contract exceeding his current $3.5 million per season) to lure Donovan away from Gainesville, FL. Currently, the school is looking to spend under $2 million per year for a coach, though it could raise plenty of additional money through private donations.

“I am very happy here, and we have a very good team coming back next season,” Donovan told the Post via text message. “St. John’s has a great tradition, and I have great respect for that program.”

Donovan, who is already “breaking down film of his team’s first-round NCAA Tournament loss to BYU and working on his recruiting plan” for Florida, is doing exactly what one would expect a coach to do in preparation for remaining at his job next season.

The Post also reported that Red Storm athletic director Chris Monasch already requested permission from Gators AD Jeremy Foley to speak with Donovan directly about the position, though that information is being disputed by Foley (see below).

UPDATE: In text messages he received from Donovan and Foley, respectively, Pat Dooley of The Gainesville Sun reports that the Post’s story is not 100 percent accurate. Donovan told Dooley that he cannot control what is being written about him in the press and that he has only spoken with a school alumnus who is close to the Post, while Foley contends that he has not yet been contacted by Monasch.

OGGOA will continue updating this breaking story.


  1. Bill McNeal says:

    What in the world does St. John’s have to offer Billy?

  2. Mitch says:

    If this is true and Donovan doesn’t put this all to rest ASAP after the Magic debacle, he should really go. His pay the last few years is probably 4 times more than what we got for it. If he even hints at entertaining offers I want him to go.

    • It is getting tiring hearing you fans complain about Donovan’s salary. He is being paid as one of the beat coaches in the game because he is one. Much of his contract is also a reward for his past accomishments. It is as simple as that.

      As far as him shooting anything down, did you read what he said in his text message? He also told the Sun that he can’t control what is written about him.

      In summation: he is not going anywhere.

  3. SaraGator says:

    Donovan is worth every cent of his salary! He put Florida on the basketball map. He brought us 2 National Championships, and he has his team playing hard each and every year.

    National Champs are difficult to achieve. Ask Kansas who was highly favored by all the experts this year. Ask Kentucky who was on a long drought and will be again when Calipari leaves. Ask St. Johns who wants Donovan because they know he is their best chance to bring them to a baskeball powerhouse and is willing to pay it.

    If you still don’t think he deserves it. Go ask former NBA coaches and former players who want their sons to be coached by Donovan.

  4. ReptilesRule says:

    Mitch, I couldn’t agree with you more. I agree that if Billy doesn’t come out with a definitive statement then he should be free to go. The Magic fiasco put a damper on the direction on the program just as the program was in a position to gain momentum from the back to back championships. I believe that it actually set our program back. BUT, Billy has built this program from the beginning and certainly should have the opportunity to get it back to at least “very good” top 25 status. But if he’s going to use this as some kind of “leverage” by just letting it float out there, then I for one would just say…go.

  5. Mitch says:

    4 mil for 3 mediocre years in a row. I love Billy, he is paid at the level of long time historic programs. I know that a deal is a deal but he should really get a pay cut based on the last few years. Continuing to pay for past success is not good business.

    • Mitch- if you expect a coach who loses his starting six players from back-to-back title teams, loses another handful to transfers and early pro entries and has a couple of injuries each season while STILL posting 20 or more wins per season (one of six coaches in the nation to do so for over a decade I believe) to not falter at all and have a misstep here or there, your expectations are absurdly high. You want him to return money or take leas?you have to be kidding. Do you know how many big-time programs missed the tourney this year all-together?

  6. Donnie wise says:

    I love Billy Donovan and think he is worth every cent of his pay. I think we are seeing the effect that loseing great assistant coaches have on teams. Anthony grant was Billy’s right hand man and had alot to do with our success. If any fan is mad at anything it should be the peoe that refuse to pay any of our assistant coaches what there worth. Lord knows they have the cash to do so.

  7. ReptilesRule says:

    Adam, I doubt that Billy feels he is in a position of negotiating for money. I’ll bet that he wouldn’t feel that he would be right in doing so. But by not being definitive in your intentions you could gain in other ways, such as public opinion and perceived job longevity. Look, I don’t believe Billy is going anywhere. I have the utmost respect for him as a person and as our coach. But I think that his fling with the Magic was a distraction for our program and maybe even affected recruiting a little. I believe it broke some of the momentum that Billy had built in making us a top 25, maybe even a top 10 program. Now he in the process of getting that back and with nexrt years team, that is all within view. But if this coaching thing comes up and just floats around out there, it could affect other things like recruiting and we could be in for the same thing over again. And it’s tough enough when you have to compete with the like of Calipari and Pearl in your own division. A mis-step and we could be relegated to 3rd or 4th place long term status in the SEC East!

    • What do you want him to do – hold a press conference? The man feels there is nothing to comment on. Did you read what he said in three text messages in the above article? It seems nothing Donovan does is good enough for some of his harshest critics when, in reality, the level of criticism he has received is laughable. Gators fans should be flattered that their coaches and assistants are so sought after. This same thing happened with Kentucky in 2007 and 2009 and Donovan initially handled it the SAME way he is now. He said he was flattered to be so desired by another program but that he had not been officially offered or contacted and was happy at Florida. Then, when he actually received an offer, he turned it down and said so bluntly reiterating his desire to remain with the Gators. Think about it.

  8. ReptilesRule says:

    Just do what Urban did. Just make it public or when a reporter asks and say “I’m not going anywhere”. It’s not that hard!

    • Fair enough. But remember, Urban didn’t go out of his way to tell the media that on day one. It’s the weekend, Donovan is at home and he hasn’t been in front of any reporters.

  9. Rich says:

    Leave Billy alone. He’s delivered 2 National Titles and now the O’Dome is still less than capacity for every game. He deserves to listen to ANY offer. Having said that, he’s an awesome coach and we should all be blessed and happy that he’s our Gator coach.

  10. Drew 4 Orange & Blue says:

    I am sure the only reason a few Gator fans are saying negative comments is they are holding the Magic fiasco over his head…from the merits on what Bily has done at UF he is worth every penny we are paying him…what Billy has done at a school with very little B-Ball tradition is just amazing….to me the only current coach who has done a better job building a program is Coach K…..I think the expectations of some fans are just absurd

  11. brlgator says:

    I demand that roy williams and jim calhoun pay back every cent they were paid by unc and uconn this year because their teams didn’t make the tourney. Likewise coach jacobson from northern iowa should get paid 4million this year for upsetting ku and ruining my bracket.
    Billy D is worth every penny we pay him period

  12. Mr2Bits says:

    I think Urbes should step up and take over for Billy. He has had alot of time on his hands and think he would be a great replacement 🙂

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