Well, it seems official now. Billy Donovan will be allowed to break his contract without penalty and rejoin the Florida Gator basketball team. So now that this experience is over, what about the reax?
Well, I think most of you could predict mine, especially given the H-E-L-L I gave UK for buying out of it's return game with UMass. You can be sure that Billy Donovan's former status as assistant to Traitor Rick and the coach of our dreams (before Billy Gillispie came along) will not protect him.
David Whitley has this piece in the Orlando Sentinel which pokes some fun at Billy (as well as provides material for my lede), and explains that this was all really quite unnecessary. Understandably, we get this:
"I'm Billy Donovan, and I voted to leave Florida before I voted to stay."
That was a point I made in my post yesterday, sans the political reference. How can a guy as apparently decisive as Billy D. allow this to happen? Maybe he is only decisive when it comes to basketball.
But while it is fun to use John Kerry and waffles to poke fun at the Magic nee Florida nee Magic (recursion, anyone?) head coach, what damage has been done by Donovan's actions?
This requires little effort in ethical analysis -- Donovan broke a contract he signed. Not only that, he injured the legitimate business interests and reputation of both the Orlando Magic and University of Florida, making both worthies look foolish and reactionary. He had plenty of time to make the decision, and had surely considered the ramifications of leaving Florida many times before the Magic came calling.
No, there is no excuse for this one, although some apologists are predictably starting to appear. He has done violence to his own reputation and that of his family, and that is too bad. Now, no matter how many national championships he eventually wins (and they will have to be at Florida, for no team in their right mind would offer him a job now), he will be remembered as the only coach in decades (maybe ever -- I haven't researched this) to break a contract with an NBA team after leaving his college team.
Any of you who have been following UF alum Peter Kerasotis' columns about Billy D. can surely predict his reaction, and leaving aside the prediction stuff, I couldn't have said it better myself. He lambastes Donovan for his ethical lapses, and details them carefully and powerfully, and if I were Billy Donovan I would agree with every word. I thank God I am not a Gator fan, and I feel sorry for those who are able to look at the entire sorry saga instead of just the outcome.
So as most of the Gator fans welcome back their unfaithful, ethics-challenged coach for what they hope is more basketball success, all I can do at this point is wish them luck. I have to admit, this adventure has soured me on ever seeing Donovan at the helm of UK. Fortunately, I don't think we will be wanting him, and if it turns out I'm wrong about that part, just remember Orlando.
Update [2007-6-5 11:57:21 by JL Blue]:
A few national columnists begin to chime in, and it's not pretty for Billy, at least in part ...
From Jay Bilas (Insider article):
Donovan's recent maneuver is one of the most unprofessional I can recall in college sports. He negotiated a contract with an NBA team, agreed to a dollar amount and the length of the contract, put pen to paper and signed it.
Then, according to reports, he really "thought about it" and understood that he made a mistake.
... From Dan Wetzel:
Don't worry; it'll work out. Donovan will be a bigger hero than ever when Dick Vitale and the crew are done with him. Rival coaches will use this to attack him on the recruiting trail and the NBA may not be so interested anymore. But in the end, it'll be no harm, no foul for Billy D after the wild spring of his midlife crisis.
Update [2007-6-6 9:18:31 by Truzenzuzex]: Some Kentucky fans have apparently been hard at the Gator boards and blogs over l'affair Donovan. Keltic Gator has a rebuke for them (and doesn't really spare the rest of us much scorn) over at Orange and Blue Hue.
Ryan Ferguson's colleague Michael David Smith at the AOL Sports Blog agrees with Jay Bilas and I about Billy D. Dick Vitale doesn't.
Some other reax: Kentucky Wildcat Basketball Blog can't understand what Donovan was thinking. The Orlando Sun Sentinel looks at the winners and losers in the whole affair. Finally, Gainesville.com has an update on the status of the technical details and some player reactions.