Monday, March 26, 2007

Kentucky offers Billy Donovan $3.5 million for 7 years

Kentucky Sports Radio picks up on a story that The Cat's Pause published tonight. Essentially, the university has given Florida men's basketball coach Billy Donovan a contract offer of 7 years for $3.5 million per year. I'll have more up as I get it.
You have heard the rumors…..and so have I. Stories abound all around the Lexington area that a preliminary deal has been reached with Billy Donovan to become UK coach with a 5-7 year deal averaging between 3 and 3.5 million dollars. This news has been message board fodder for the last couple of days and tonight, the Cats Pause lended their two cents by putting the rumor on the front page of the site. The UK fan base is abuzz at the possibilities and excitement is raging at the possibility of a new era in Kentucky basketball.

But that raises the question, is it true? Simply put, regardless of the rumors, and even the Cats Pause story is a rumor, there still remains a question as to whether such a deal has been consumated. I have to say….call me cautiously skeptical. I think there is a VERY good chance that Billy Donovan becomes the next Kentucky coach. However I question whether the deal has been agreed upon at this team. Many are speculating that UK and Donovan’s agent came to a preliminary deal this weekend and are now simply waiting for the tournament to finish before announcing it. I am confident that meetings have taken place and I believe Donovan is seriously considering the job. But I am not ready to say it is a done deal at this time.[...]

Bottom line is this…..the likelihood of Donovan becoming UK’s next coach continues to increase. His players were quoted today as saying they couldnt believe he would leave and dismissing the stories. I expect that there will be MAJOR pressure on him to stay, even from some of the same guys now being quoted. However Donovan refuses to say no to his interest in Kentucky, including today on PTI when Tony Kornheiser put him on the spot. Billy will listen to UK…..and I think the chances are high he becomes the next UK coach. I have spoken to a few people who have said to me today that the deal with Donovan is all done but the signing…..and maybe they are right. But the signing is still a MAJOR obstacle, especially with the intense media scrutiny of the Final Four coming. It may be “all over but the shouting”…..but in this case, the shouting is still an important component.
Here's what was reported on WLEX 18 in Lexington:
"Kentucky is poised to name Billy Donovan as its next basketball coach shortly after Florida's final game in the NCAA tournament. The reported package -- a 7 year deal at 3.5 million dollars per year. If Donovan stays the full 7 years, there's a 3.5 million dollar loyalty bonus. The deal reportedly got done last Thursday and Friday during a meeting with Donovan's agent in Lexington."

Darrell Bird has this to say in the Rupp Rafters:
Here is what I posted on House of Blue.

Steady guys, geez!!! This post on House of Blue -- where we discuss rumors every day -- is exactly what it says it is. Blockbuster deal done? (note question mark). Did not come from UK officials (as stated). REPORTEDLY set to offer. Can still fall through? Yes.

I put a one paragraph teaser on main page simply to direct folks to the message board, same as we did with Sunday's Scuttlebutt segment. That's it. If this had been a news story announcing UK will sign its coach I would have included comments from UK officials.

This is one of several rumors circulating -- only this one can't be shot down -- and from what I've learned these are the details. But we are still a long way from done as evidenced by the reference to another story coming up about Plan B candidates if this doesn't pan out. (I've been told some media outlets ran with this info as fact, which is unfortunate but I can't control that.)

I can appreciate the excitement over the possibilities, but let's take a breath. And thanks to everyone who read it for what it is, adding comments like, "I hope this is true." "I'll keep my fingers crossed."
UPDATED 3/27 at 1:30 PM:
WLEX 18 has retracted their comments last night.
Scott Stricklin, UK's associate athletics director in charge of media relations told LEX 18 Tuesday morning that, "we are closer to the beginning of the search than the end."

Late Monday night, the website posted a story saying Kentucky is reportedly poised to name current Florida head coach Donovan its new basketball coach shortly after Florida's final game in the NCAA tournament. In that story, Cats Pause managing editor Darrel Bird the terms of the contract are "seven years at 3.5 million per year. Should Donovan complete all seven years, there is a $3.5 million loyalty bonus."

The Cats Pause story also said, "indications are that everybody is on board from both sides and only Billy D's signature awaits."

The Cats Pause is now backing away from their original story, and now says the hiring is a rumor. LEX 18 Sports has attempted to contact Bird but has been unable to reach him.

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