Donovan turns down most offers to speak

Updated: May 31, 2006, 10:39 AM ET
Associated Press

DESTIN, Fla. -- Billy Donovan turned to two of college basketball's biggest names for advice.

The Florida coach called Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and North Carolina's Roy Williams for guidance on how to handle the aftermath of winning a national championship.

"My thought process was probably right along what they were feeling, which was if you're not careful your time can get swallowed up very quickly," Donovan said Tuesday at the Southeastern Conference's annual spring meetings.

"You need to balance between your time and your family and your job in terms of what's going to be important for you."

Donovan, whose Gators beat UCLA 73-57 to win the title April 3, decided to reject nearly every offer that came his way.

Hang with celebrities at one of Donald Trump's functions? No, thanks.

Throw out the first pitch at a Yankees-Devil Rays game? Not this year.

"I've tried not to do much other than my job," said Donovan, who received a $250,000 bonus for winning the title and is expected to get a contract extension. "I haven't allowed it to get to a point where I'm running all over the place speaking and doing a lot of different things because of the national championship.

"Maybe some day I'll regret not being able to do some of those things. ... But what's really important to me is my family and my job and doing what I need to do for the University of Florida."

Donovan focused on recruiting, getting his players caught up in the classroom and having them start an offseason conditioning program.

He also had to find a new assistant after Anthony Grant left to take the head job at Virginia Commonwealth. Donovan hired Lewis Preston, who spent the last six years working under Mike Brey at Notre Dame.

The coaching staff was pretty much all that changed.

Forward Adrian Moss graduated and Jimmie Sutton, a freshman who didn't play last season because of a knee injury, decided to transfer. But the biggest news came a few days after the title game, when sophomores Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Corey Brewer -- all possible first-round picks in the NBA draft -- decided to return for at least one more season in Gainesville.

"I'm very happy they came back, but I really didn't give it a lot of thought," Donovan said. "It's going to be the same situation after next year. Maybe this was something where the fate and the role reversed. We've lost a lot of guys early and maybe this was one time where we got a few guys to stay, which was kind of nice."

It also was unique, especially during a time when NBA riches are difficult to overlook.

"There should be a lot of talk about those kids and what they did because everybody's talked about the college kids going for the quick fix and for the money and you can never turn down the money," Donovan said. "Yes you can. Those kids proved you can turn down the money.

"They turned down money for happiness. For a lot of them, having a chance to be around their fathers who were professional athletes, they probably have a different perspective of things than someone who hasn't had that type of fame and fortune."

As for Donovan, the most overwhelming part has been the endless calls, e-mails and letters.

"It still comes. It's staggering. It's been pretty remarkable and amazing with the amount of stuff, and the magnitude of when you do win it and what happens," he said.

He found another example Tuesday, when former Florida and current South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier walked into the meeting room where Donovan was holding court and loudly asked, "Is this where the Billy Donovan show is?"

After the laughter ended, Spurrier said winning a title changes outside expectations.

"He got one forever and Florida has one forever, just like what we did in football there in 1996," Spurrier said. "It's just a wonderful feeling in our profession of coaching that you have one, forever you have one.

"He's not going to sit around and bask in it. He's excited about trying to do it next year. There'll probably be a lot of pressure on him now. He'll probably feel more pressure to do it again next year than he did this year."

Donovan had a different take.

"To say our focus is going to be on winning a national championship would be a mistake," he said. "Our focus needs to be on what comes with what just happened. To me, there's no defending of a national championship. We've already won the national championship. That's over with. It's done. It's been written about.

"Once the first day of practice starts next year, it's over with. We're not defending anything. We've already won it. It's about 2006-07, what kind of team can we become then? Can we build off what we've done? Can we be a better team?"

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press