Second thoughts for Billy Donovan?

Could it be true that Billy Donovan is having second thoughts about taking the coaching job with the Orlando Magic of the NBA? Jeff Goodman, the basketball analyst for Fox Sports, has reported that Billy Donovan has approached the Orlando Magic about getting out of the deal and talked to University of Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley about staying on as the basketball coach.

Also, Andy Katz reported on ESPN Sunday night during the broadcast of the New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox baseball game that Donovan had asked out of the contract with the Magic so he could return to Florida. On Katz wrote that Donovan’s return will hinge on a Monday decision by the Magic. (

Donovan announced Thursday that he was resigning his position at Florida to take the NBA job and he was announced in Orlando as the new head coach of the Magic Friday morning. All speculation turned to former Florida assistant Anthony Grant as Donovan’s successor.

There were reports at several newspapers that the deal with Grant was imminent. In an email with a friend in the Richmond media that has long-standing ties to Virginia Commonwealth University, where Grant is the head coach, Gator Country was told that it looked like Grant was gone and that the only thing holding up the announcement was a decision at VCU regarding assistant coach Tony Pujol, who wanted to be Grant’s successor.

Goodman reported late Sunday night that Foley flew to Richmond Saturday to talk with Grant, the head coach at Virginia Commonwealth University, but shortly after the UF jet landed at the Richmond airport, Foley re-boarded the plane and took off. (

Sunday evening, Grant told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that he had talked to Florida officials but had not met with them and had not been offered the job. (

Matt Ramker, who heads up the Florida Rams AAU program, called Gator Country Sunday evening and reported that he had been getting calls about Donovan returning from several sources. Ramker, who coached Taurean Green and Marreese Speights, thinks Donovan’s return to Florida would be good news.

“I’ve been getting a lot o phone calls over the last hour in reference to Coach Donovan coming back to Florida,” said Ramker. “Everybody should welcome him back with open arms. I think it’s good for Florida basketball if he returns.”

Ramker’s current AAU team includes 6-10 Kenny Kadji, one of the most highly regarded big men in the nation, and 6-5 Ray Shipman, who is streaking up everyone’s recruiting charts. Both Kadji and Shipman would be considered strong candidates to be part of the Florida recruiting class of 2008 if Donovan would return.

Gator Country will be trying to follow several leads to get further clarification on this story throughout the night.

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Franz Beard
Back in January of 1969, the late, great Jack Hairston, then the sports editor of the Jacksonville Journal, called me on the phone one night and asked me if I wanted to work for him. I said yes. The entire interview took 30 seconds. It's my experience that whenever the interview lasts 30 seconds or less, I get the job. In the 48 years that I've been writing and getting paid for it, I've covered Super Bowls, World Series, NCAA basketball championships, BCS championship games, heavyweight title fights and what seems like thousands of college football, baseball and basketball games. I'm a columnist and special assignments editor for Gator Country once again, writing about the only team that ever mattered to me, the Florida Gators.