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Six-year deal will pay coach $1.7M per

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida agreed to a new six-year
contract with Billy Donovan worth about $1.7 million a year
Tuesday, yet another step to ensure he finishes his college
coaching career with the Gators.

The contract, still to be finalized, will keep Donovan as the
second-highest paid coach in the Southeastern Conference, below
only Tubby Smith. It gives him about a $500,000 raise and has all
the apparel, TV and radio incentives that were in the old deal.

At 38, Donovan is considered one of the best young coaches in
the country. He is thought to covet an NBA job someday, and has
widely been considered a prime candidate to coach at Kentucky,
where he worked as Rick Pitino's assistant, should Smith ever step
aside.

"The NBA, nobody can control," athletic director Jeremy Foley
said, "but we can control what happens in college. He has made
great inroads here and we want to make it clear that this is where
he needs to be."

Donovan took over a program that had experienced only limited
success -- one that former coach Lon Kruger said could never
regularly compete at the highest level -- and guided it to the NCAA Tournament for an unprecedented five straight seasons.

He gave Florida's recruiting program national scope and has
routinely brought in one of the top-10 recruiting classes in the
country.

In 2000, the Gators made the national finals for the first time.
Last season, they reached No. 1 in The Associated Press poll for
the first time, but failed to advance out of the first weekend of
the tournament for the second straight year.

"I'm certainly very appreciative of the commitment that Florida
has made to its basketball program, to me and my family," Donovan
said in a statement. "I look forward to being head coach at
University of Florida for many years to come."

The contract replaces an earlier deal that had four years
remaining. Foley said it was time to tear the old one up and start
over, because it had been reworked so many times to give him
extensions and raises.

Donovan 149-73 (85-55 SEC) in seven seasons at Florida, and
184-93 overall, including his two years at Marshall.

"We're making him one of the highest paid, because we want him
to know his value to the program," Foley said.