2006 NCAA Basketball Champion; Head Coach of University of Florida
As a player he was known simply as "Billy the Kid”, a kid no more, Billy Donovan concluded his 10th season at the University of Florida atop a place he had always dreamed of - the ladder at the RCA Dome cutting down the nets in the national title game. A lifelong journey was realized on April 3, 2006 as Donovan guided the University of Florida to its first national title in basketball.
Donovan's squads have led the SEC in a statistical category 33 times including 29 offensive categories. In a year of balance, his 2005-06 squad led the SEC in field goal percentage, three-point accuracy, free throw percentage, while at the defensive end, they led the league in lowest field goal and three-point percentage allowed. UF finished second in the SEC in both scoring and in scoring defense. A total of 25 of his players have earned All-SEC honors while 10 of his freshmen have been recognized as among the best in the league including in 2002-03 when Anthony Roberson earned SEC Freshman of the Year from both the league coaches and Associated Press.
Four of Donovan's players have been first round draft picks in the NBA Draft, after the school boasted only two before his arrival and he has inked eight McDonald's All-Americans after UF had just three prior to his arrival. The fans have taken notice, attendance is up by nearly 5,000 spectators a year since Donovan's arrival and UF averaged a school-record 11,047 fans in 2003-04, while in 2005-06 a school record average of 12,141 fans passed through the gates in league play. UF has averaged over 10,000 fans per game each of the last six years and a record 195,331 fans passed through the gates at the O'Dome last year.
Off the court, Donovan's players have excelled in the classroom. A league-best 38 Gators have been named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll under Donovan including a league record six in 1997 and 1998. In 2002-03, Matt Bonner earned his second consecutive Academic All-American of the Year award while earning First Team Academic All-America honors for the third straight year. Carrying a 3.98 GPA, Bonner is also the only player in school history to be named to the Academic All-American team three times. Lee Humphrey added to that list in 2005-06, earning Second Team Academic All-America honors, while UF tied for the SEC lead with five Academic All-SEC recipients. Eighteen of the 20 seniors who have suited up to play for Coach Donovan have graduated from the University of Florida.
Donovan's work ethic and never-say-die attitude was instilled at a young age, when he played at St. Agnes High School in Long Island, New York. Never having enough time at the gym, Donovan was known to have propped open the door to the gym before leaving practice so he could return on his own to shoot. On at least one occasion, his worried mother, Joan, found his bed empty at 2 a.m. “No worry”, said his father, William, who was a standout guard at Boston College and graduated in 1962 as the third leading scorer in school history. “Check the gym, and you will find him”. Eventually, the school custodian gave Billy a key to the gym, and later his father built a lighted court in the back yard. The results paid off as Donovan earned first-team All-Long Island honors his last two seasons and led St. Agnes to the Long Island Catholic High School Championship his senior year.
Donovan and his wife, Christine, have four children.
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