Happiness the main factor in Donovan's decision
Billy Donovan is happy with his life and sees no need to change a thing.
That's the reason why Donovan decided against a move to Florida's chief SEC rival, Kentucky.
Fresh off a remarkable run of back-to-back national titles, Donovan simply wants to enjoy what he has accomplished as coach of the Gators. And if he needs a challenge, he already has one in trying to rebuild Florida yet again after his four star juniors (Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer and Taurean Green) told him they are declaring for the NBA draft. Florida was already losing two key seniors, starter Lee Humphrey and sixth man Chris Richard.
"It came down to one thing: I'm happy," Donovan told ESPN.com on Thursday. "My family is happy. The job was never offered to me. I did talk to Mitch [Barnhart, Kentucky's athletic director]. I appreciate him never calling me during the NCAA Tournament. He handled it first-class.
"I never wanted this to be a bidding war with Kentucky and Florida."
Donovan said he met with Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley at 9:30 a.m. ET Thursday, and after the meeting he spoke with Barnhart.
He said that he and Foley haven't hammered out a contract and will get to it sometime this spring. He is leaving for a weeklong family trip to the Dominican Republic on Saturday.
"My wife [Christine] is happy here, and that's really it for me," Donovan said. "I don't look at life that the grass is greener. Kentucky is a great school, great fan interest, and whoever goes there will be in a great situation.
"You can't buy happiness, and the school [Florida] has always taken care of me," Donovan said.
Foley told ESPN.com that he and Donovan have been working on a deal for the past year. Donovan didn't sign a contract extension last spring after winning his first title because his four then-sophomore stars committed to return rather than jump to the NBA.
"Obviously you're relieved and you're confident after 11 years of working together that you have a good relationship with somebody," Foley told ESPN.com.
Foley said he wasn't worried that Donovan would leave but said, "You don't know what's in someone's head ... you never take someone for granted."
Foley said Donovan's contract, which could push the $3 million that Kentucky would have offered, has nothing to do with national championship football coach Urban Meyer.
"Urban is busy with recruiting and spring football practice. We're well aware of his value to the university," Foley said.
Foley said he feels that Donovan values the sense of community in the athletic department and the working environment, as Foley does.
"He said from day one how much he likes the University of Florida," Foley said.
What Donovan hasn't had a chance to do since cutting down the nets in Atlanta late Monday night is to enjoy the title.
He will now.
"I want to do that now," Donovan said. "I want to be able to enjoy what just happened. I knew my situation would get resolved and these four players had to get their situation resolved. Now it's behind me and I can reflect on the last two years and all the hard work by myself and the staff."
The 41-year-old Donovan, who will celebrate the title with the Florida faithful Friday night at the O'Connell Center, is one of only four active coaches to have won multiple national titles in Division I men's basketball. The others are Texas Tech's Bob Knight (three at Indiana), Duke's Mike Krzyzewski (three) and Connecticut's Jim Calhoun (two).
"What happened the last two years is significant in today's day and age, and I haven't had a chance to enjoy it," Donovan said. "There were decisions out there that had to be made before I could. After [Thursday] I will start enjoying this -- absolutely."
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.
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