Friday, March 30, 2007

UK's offer to Billy Donovan

ESPN reports:
Kentucky officials are prepared to offer Florida coach Billy Donovan an annual raise of more than $1 million as part of a contract that would make him one of the highest-paid coaches in college basketball.

Sources close to Kentucky's search said the school is prepared to tender an offer to Donovan early next week, either after Florida is eliminated from this weekend's Final Four in the Georgia Dome, or after it plays Monday night for its second consecutive national championship.

When asked whether he has authorized anyone to negotiate with Kentucky on his behalf, Donovan said Friday, "Absolutely not. I have told our athletic director that I am focused on UCLA. What a great opportunity ... and there shouldn't be any distraction with any of this stuff."

The sources said Donovan, a former Kentucky assistant under Rick Pitino, is the Wildcats' top choice to replace Tubby Smith, who unexpectedly resigned last week to become Minnesota's coach. Kentucky's starting point in the negotiations will be a seven-year contract that would pay Donovan at least $2.8 million per season and as much as $3.5 million with performance-based incentives, the sources said.

Florida, seeking to become the first team to win consecutive national titles since Duke in 1991 and 1992, plays UCLA in a national semifinal Saturday night.

"One of the things we have talked about is distractions and how they're going to come and a lot of times you can't control how they do come," Donovan said. "For me right now, it has been all about UCLA and all about preparation and all about getting ready to play this game. I'm just so happy we've gotten to this point."

"There's always going to be speculation and people want to talk, and I can't control that. What I can control is how I choose to focus my time and how my team chooses to focus its time. I think right now our team has great respect for UCLA and our focus is getting ready to play them."

After this season, Donovan would have five years remaining on his contract with Florida, which pays him about $1.8 million per season.

Donovan and his agents have been in negotiations with Florida athletics director Jeremy Foley for nearly a year. The two sides haven't yet reached a contract extension, but Florida was already prepared to pay Donovan at least $2.5 million per season before the Kentucky job opened, sources said.[...]

Kentucky officials have hired Parker Executive Search, an executive search firm in Atlanta, to conduct its coaching search. Dan Parker, president of the firm, was contracted by Minnesota to lure Smith to the Gophers, and Indiana used his firm to hire Kelvin Sampson from Oklahoma.

Regardless if Donovan stays at Florida or leaves for Kentucky, he figures to become one of the five highest-paid coaches in the country. Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and North Carolina's Roy Williams each earn close to $3 million per season, and Michigan State's Tom Izzo is paid about $2.6 million annually, according to industry sources.

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