By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
The Florida Gators made an announcement on Friday involving one of its former coaches. But the plan has been in place for some time now.
Scott Stricklin, the school’s Athletic Director, announced that Billy Donovan will be honored with his name on the court at Exactech Arena. It will now be known as Billy Donovan Court at Exactech Arena.
Donovan — who is the Oklahoma City Thunder head coach in the NBA — along with his wife Christine met with Stricklin and former AD Jeremy Foley, who hired Donovan at Florida, back in October in Oklahoma City. Stricklin and Foley used a ruse to set up the meaning before coming clean about the meeting.
“We’re putting your name on the O’Dome floor,” Foley told the future Hall-of-Famer and winningest coach in program history. “The university wants to do this for you.”
During its fall meeting on Friday, the University of Florida Board of Trustees unanimously approved the motion. It will become official on February 15, 2020.
That’s during the NBA All-Star weekend so Donovan will not have to miss time from his regular responsibilities with the Thunder. His family, along with former players, who were part of Donovan’s teams, have also been invited back to take part in this special day.
The Vanderbilt Commodores will face the Gators in the “Saturday Night Showdown.”
“I was totally shocked,” Donovan said of the moment both Stricklin and Foley, who hired Donovan in 1996, delivered the news. “It was really emotional. I mean, I didn’t anticipate this. I’ve been gone five years, so I couldn’t believe those guys flew all the way out here for that. I’m thankful, I’m honored and just incredibly humbled by it all.”
Donovan was at Florida from 1996 through 2015. He went 467-186, including six Southeastern Conference regular-season championships. His team’s also won the tournament championship four times.
Under Donovan, the team played in March Madness 14 times. The team went to the Final Four during his tenure four times.
The program won back-to-back championships, as well. In the last 50-years, only three college coaches accomplished this feat — Donovan, the late John Wooden, and Mike Krzyzewski.