Florida coach Billy Donovan believes in "gentleman's agreement" in basketball recruiting
Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan has watched from afar as his friend and former colleague Urban Meyer has been taken to task for what some coaches in the Big Ten call negative recruiting.
Meyer landed Ohio State a Top 5 recruiting class this week after just six weeks on the job, and some league coaches are crying foul because Meyer went after players who had orally committed to other schools.
Donovan, who is in his 16th season with the Gators, said he believes basketball recruiting operates in a much different manner, and recruiting players that have committed elsewhere isn't commonplace.
"I've always been amazed at football.,'' Donovan said Friday as the Gators prepare to play Vanderbilt on Saturday. "There used to be a basketball coach, I'm not going to say his name, he's no longer coaching. When I first got in the business, a guy would commit and he used to say 'That's great, now it's down to two -me and you.' I would say in basketball there is no question a gentleman's (agreement). I will not recruit somebody who is committed never, ever. . . . I think it's kind of an unspoken law in basketball that once a guy is committed that's it. I have not done this, but I know coaches will do this, if a guy is committed to a school and there's another school trying to change or break that commitment, the school he's committed to will call up the coach and say 'Hey, what are you doing?. This guy's already made a decision. He's coming to our school.'' "
Donovan, who just this past year lost recruit Austin Rivers to Duke after Rivers orally committed to the Gators, said he believes that situation is more prevalent in the cut throat world of college football.
"That's kind of the way it is (in football),'' he said. "I remember football coaches being here saying the hardest thing is when you get a guy committing early, is holding onto that commitment because now what you have is five or six schools trying to get back involved with the kid or just attacking the one school about why the decision is such a poor decision. But it's my understanding that that's the way it is in football, that's what goes on there. I've always been amazed in football. A guy is verbally committed somewhere and he's taking official visits to other places. that makes no sense to me. He shouldn't commit anywhere if he's not really sure. It just seems like that's what goes on.''
Donovan had a similar situation in the recruitment of former All-SEC player Al Horford. Horford orally committed to Michigan, but later changed his mind. Donovan said he told Horford he wouldn't talk to him about attending Florida until after he had informed the Michigan coaches of his change of heart.
"But I'm not going to pick up the phone and talk to a kid that's already committed somewhere and tell him why he should go there he's making a mistake there,'' Donovan said.