Florida and Billy Donovan have reached an agreement on a contract extension that will keep the longtime Gators head basketball coach with the program through 2019.
Kevin Brockway of The Gainesville Sun passed along word that a deal had been struck:
Florida coach Billy Donovan has signed contract extension through 2019. Details upcoming.— Kevin Brockway (@gatorhoops) March 25, 2014
Donovan will get a $1 million per year bump in salary from 2016-19 to put his salary at about $3.6 million during those seasons.— Kevin Brockway (@gatorhoops) March 25, 2014
David Jones of Florida Today adds the new contract is expected to pay Donovan in the $20 million range:
Florida Today has learned Florida executed a extension with Billy Donovan recently worth close to $20 mill. Details coming. #Gators— David Jones (@DaveJonesUFbeat) March 25, 2014
Brockway had more on where Donovan's extension puts him among his peers in the SEC:
Billy D's contact extension keeps him second-highest paid coach in SEC ($3.7 million) behind Kentucky's John Calipari ($5.4 million).— Kevin Brockway (@gatorhoops) March 25, 2014
Will Muschamp spoke about Donovan after the extension (via Bryan Holt of Rivals):
Will Muschamp on Billy Donovan: "I think he's the best college coach in the country, period. I'm not just talking about basketball."— Bryan Holt (@Bryan_Holt) March 25, 2014
Word of the extension comes a couple days after Donovan led the Gators, the top overall seed in this year's NCAA tournament, past Pittsburgh and into the Sweet 16. It's the fourth straight season Florida has reached at least this stage of the Big Dance.
After stints with Kentucky as an assistant and as a head coach at Marshall, Donovan took the Florida job in 1996 and is now closing in on two decades at the school. His teams have appeared in the Final Four three times and have proceeded to win the national title twice.
He left the program for about a week in 2007 to accept the same position with the Orlando Magic in the NBA. After changing his mind, he returned to Florida and has stayed with the Gators ever since. He holds a record of 449–168 (.728) in 18 seasons.
According to Eric Adelson of Yahoo Sports, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is among Donovan's biggest supporters:
Belichick has been friends with Donovan for 15 years. "He’s a great motivator, a great fundamental coach," Belichick told Yahoo Sports after Florida’s 61-45 win. "He’s great with scheme and team stuff."
The two friends talk "a lot," Belichick said, and although so much has changed for both men over time, "at heart, he’s the same guy. A team-builder."
The NBA remains in his mind, however. The Associated Press (via ESPN) passed along comments from Donovan last week in which he talked about still being intrigued about the next level despite what happened with Orlando:
I got into coaching because of the basketball piece of it, and there is an intrigue as it relates to (the NBA). When you try to project where your future is, where you're going to be, and you don't know because I don't have a crystal ball, all I can say is I am happy here at Florida. I love being here.
The NBA part of it, the intrigue part of it for me, is just the fact that it's basketball 24 hours a day. That's all you're dealing with is basketball.
Jones of Florida Today reports further details about the new deal, including the fact the basic tenants were actually agreed to last summer but not locked in until recently:
Donovan agreed in terms to a five-year extension last summer the deal was not finalized and executed until last month. The contract will run through 2018-19 and remains at the current value of about $3.5 million a year making the extension, which includes bonuses, incentives, etc. worth potentially more than $20 million.
Jones also notes the agreement upon Donovan's return to Florida that didn't allow him to coach in the NBA for five years has since lapsed. It's led to renewed speculation about his future, highlighted by talk of the New York Knicks job.
Will Donovan ever return to the NBA?
Whether that caused Florida to pick up the pace in getting the extension finalized is unclear, but he's now signed through the 2018-19 season.
It's interesting to see Donovan still talking about coaching at the NBA level given how quickly he second-guessed himself the last time around. That's especially true when you consider the consistently successful program he's built at Florida.
That said, there's obviously enough about the next level that intrigues him to speak openly about it. An extension might quiet that talk for awhile as Donovan pushes toward another national title, but things could always change after that.
Florida must do everything in its power to keep him through 2019 and beyond.