Stanford coach does not think Gators coach cheats

Updated: October 30, 2003, 6:30 PM ET
Associated Press

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The college basketball season is still a few weeks away. The shots, however, are already flying.

Stanford coach Mike Montgomery and Florida coach Billy Donovan have smoothed over a nasty flap that came about when Montgomery made comments that made it sound as though he thinks Donovan cheats in recruiting.

Last week, The Washington Post quoted Montgomery as saying, "There's one coach we all know who cheats; everyone knows it. A few years ago, he made the Final Four. His president heard all the accusations, knew his graduation rate was awful and what did he do? He gave him a $1.7 million contract. What kind of message is that?"

Montgomery didn't mention Donovan by name. However, the Gators went to the Final Four in 2000, Donovan just signed a contract extension worth $1.6 million a year, and on Wednesday, Donovan acknowledged receiving an apology from the Stanford coach.

"Mike has corresponded to me an apology, of which he said he didn't say those things. He said he wasn't talking about me. Obviously, it appeared that way, but to me, it's over and done with. I accept his apology," Donovan said.

Last week, Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley dismissed the criticism as a matter of coaches being jealous.

"They're jealous of Billy's success, they're jealous that he outworks them and they're jealous of his salary," Foley said.

Since becoming Florida's coach in 1996, Donovan has routinely brought in top recruiting classes. The 2000 championship game, however, remains Florida's only Final Four appearance during Donovan's tenure.

Montgomery isn't the first coach to accuse Donovan of cheating.

When he was coach at Kansas, Roy Williams of North Carolina was among those who accused Donovan of recruiting violations, figuring Donovan must have cheated to bring Mike Miller -- one of the best prep players in the country -- to Florida, which at the time was not a top program.

No violations were proven.

Donovan said he doesn't hold a grudge against Montgomery, and said Montgomery told him he felt his statement was taken out of context.

"His letter of apology to me basically just said, 'You know, I believe you're doing things the right way, and I'm terribly sorry at this inconvenience,' " Donovan said. "Mike really feels terribly bad about what happened, but more than anything else, Stanford apologizing and Mike apologizing -- I just think for myself, that's OK with me."


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press

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