On a day dominated by the NFL Draft there are major reverberations around the college basketball landscape, as Billy Donovan has agreed in principle to become the new head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Donovan coached in the college ranks for 21 seasons, 19 of which were for the Florida Gators. During his heralded tenure in Gainesville he compiled a record of 467–186, won six SEC regular season championships, claimed four SEC Tournament titles, reached four Final Fours and cut down the nets for two national championships. This past season he became only the second coach under 50 years of age to win 500 games (Bob Knight).
According to Florida beat writer Kevin Brockway, there is no word on the terms of the Oklahoma City contract, though Donovan will owe Florida half a million dollars as a part of his buyout.
No immediate word on financial terms of deal with OKC, but Donovan will need to pay a $500,000 buyout to leave his contract at UF.
— Kevin Brockway (@gatorhoops) April 30, 2015
Brockway also reports that Donovan’s assistants, John Pelphrey and the newly rehired Anthony Grant, might be replacement considerations, though there is a chance they, too, might leave for the NBA.
Florida assistants John Pelphrey and Anthony Grant could also get a look, though one or both might follow Billy D to OKC. — Kevin Brockway (@gatorhoops) April 30, 2015
Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley is now tasked with the unenviable chore of replacing a true coaching legend. The below graphic illustrates just how much of an architect Donovan was during his 19-year tenure with the Gators.
As for Donovan, he now faces the chore of doing what Scott Brooks couldn’t: getting Oklahoma City over the hump for an NBA title. He also trades in the rigors of revolving door recruiting for NBA free agency, with both Kevin Durant and Russell Westrook’s contracts set to expire over the course of the next three seasons. At the end of the day, Donovan always stated that he would only leave Gainesville for the perfect situation; it appears the opportunity to coach two of the league’s top players was too great an offer to pass up.