FOLEY: “Thank you everyone for coming today. Obviously it has been a hectic couple of hours here for the University of Florida and Coach Donovan. Today is a sad day and a happy day. It is a sad day at the University of Florida from the perspective that we have lost something special and it has come to an end. It has been special. Eleven years ago when Billy and I sat in Huntington, we envisioned that we could put Florida basketball on the map and I feel that Billy and his players have done that. It has been a tremendous ride the past 11 years when you think of all of the games we have played in and all of the games we have won.
University of Florida Athletics Director Jeremy Foley
“ We have won two national championships and even along the way, winning in Rupp (Arena) for the first time in a long time and the Rowdy Reptiles and the O’Connell Center being packed. It has been a great, great run and a great ride and you hate to see those things end. All good things do come to an end, so that is the sad part about it. The happy part of it is a guy that we admire and respect gets a chance to achieve something that he has dreamed about for many years. He made that very, very plain to me in a number of conversations with me. He is not too far away, which makes it even better. We can all drive an hour and a half down the road and have a chance to see him. We certainly owe a great deal of gratitude to Billy Donovan for what he has accomplished for this institution, and we have seen it every single day. I use the words ‘relentless effort,’ and that is what it has taken. You don’t do what he has done, and what this program has done, without an unbelievable work ethic, commitment and sacrifices. We have seen that happen. So again, I am appreciative of all he has done for this program and for the University. I am proud that he is my friend, and I really enjoyed working with him.
On coaching contracts at the University of Florida:
“We do things a little differently here at the University of Florida because of the level of trust that the AD has with the coaches, and vice versa. Yes, we have contracts, but people are forgetting that we had a lucrative contract for Billy after he won the national championship a year ago, and he didn’t want to sign it because of the players coming back and the sacrifice they were making. We don’t have to have a contract in place to take care of our coaches.”
“Well obviously this personally very, very hard for me because of the person that I am sitting next to (Jeremy Foley). We were able to accomplish a lot of great things here at the University of Florida. I know that there is a lot talked about and made about my contract and what was going on with that, and I just want everyone to know that in my mind and in my heart, that was never an issue for me at all. Jeremy kept me informed that it was going to get done, he kept me totally in the loop of all the things that were being done and being worked out. There is obviously a process that the University had to go through. My decision really has nothing to do with the University of Florida, my contract or anything of that nature, and I think sometimes when there is a departure of a coach, people immediately think things are going sideways or there are problems. 9Jeremy Foley) is one of my closest friends in life who afforded me the opportunity of a lifetime, and I will always be gratefully indebted to the University of Florida and Jeremy for giving me the opportunity to coach here. Not that I have worked for a lot of them, but he is the best athletics director in the country and he has built a program here that is among the elite in all of collegiate athletics. I was very grateful that I worked with the best in his field and hopefully he made me better as a coach and as a person. It has been very hard for me because when you are happy, people say ‘Why leave if you are happy?’ I think for me, it was the challenging piece of taking another step in my life and I am out of my comfort zone. It would have been easy for me to stay, but I am out of my comfort zone, taking on a challenge that I have never done before. I am going to work hard, and I think I know enough people in that profession that have been at that level and will be very helpful. I think it will be great for me. I am going to be very busy, but its going to be a different type of busy for me and a new challenge. I am just happy and grateful that I could be a part of what has happened in this program the past 11 years, and I am sad that I will be moving on.”
On the delay to finalize his contract:
“People say ‘If the University of Florida would have done it three or four weeks ago, would that have changed my decision?’ and I say no because Jeremy (Foley) and I have had conversations very much up front. When the Kentucky situation happened, Jeremy and I sat down, and we talked about the parameters and the things that we could do. I did tell Jeremy that the one thing I wanted to be up front with him about was that there has always been a level of intrigue with the NBA, there has always been a level of intrigue with doing all basketball, and I said that if something comes down the pipe that really peaks my interest, I may look at something like that. I may not do it, but I may look at it. I think that he was fine with that, he was ok. It wasn’t about me coaching at another college. This is the only university that I want to coach at. I just told Jeremy that I am fine, and I think that people want to make more of a bigger deal about that and it had nothing to do with that.”
On public perception of his decision:
“Everything that I’ve tried to do here has been in the best interest of the University of Florida and the kids that were in the program. Part of the reason why I didn’t sign a contract in 2006 is because I didn’t want it to look like I was capitalizing on our team’s success. In 2007, the University had to go through their process. It looks like the contract isn’t getting signed and people are asking ‘What’s going on?’ but the institution has a process. I have no problem with that because I trust Jeremy Foley with my life and I trust Dr. Machen with my life. They are good people, and I was fine with the way everything was moving.”