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Sunshine State Report

The latest on college sports in Florida

Billy Donovan on Jeremy Foley: 'He changed my life'

Billy Donovan and Jeremy Foley celebrate the Florida Gators' trip to the 2007 Final Four.

Tampa Bay Times file

Billy Donovan and Jeremy Foley celebrate the Florida Gators' trip to the 2007 Final Four.

14

June

After two national championships and four trips to the Final Four, Billy Donovan ranks among the most successful coaches in Florida Gators history.

But when UF athletic director Jeremy Foley hired Donovan in 1996, Donovan wasn't yet a major name; he was a 30-year-old with only two years of head coaching experience at Marshall.

So when Foley announced his retirement Monday at age 63, Donovan — now the head coach of the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder — felt grateful for the chance Foley took 20 years ago.

"He changed my life," Donovan told the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday. "He changed my life. He provided an opportunity for me at a very, very young age. … He took a chance on me. l'll always be grateful for that.

"I don't lose sight and perspective. A lot of people can say, yeah you won some games. It's not about that. It's about the opportunity and how thankful I am for what he was able to do for me at a very, very young age, then go 19 years. It's unheard of that the athletic director's going to be the same person in place."

Foley will address reporters at a news conference later today in Gainesville, and I'll have more from my interview with Donovan up later.

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 14, 2016 1:51pm]

    

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