Transcript from Donovan news conference
University of Florida Head Men's Basketball Coach Billy Donovan
June 7, 2007
"The last four or five days have certainly been difficult, and I want to take this time to apologize, first and foremost, to the Orlando Magic. I feel terrible about this, and I'm very sorry that it happened. They are a great organization, they have great ownership and they are great people. I also want to apologize to Jeremy (Foley) and Dr. Machen for what I have put the University of Florida through. I'm sorry for that, and I'm also sorry for what I've put my family through for the last four or five days. It was my decision, and I have to take responsibility for that. When I made the decision, part of me just did not feel right, and I've got too much respect for the Magic and their fans to continue on. I thought that it would be totally unfair to them, knowing where my heart was at and where I wanted to be. They were relying and depending on me, and I thought that the mistake I made would have been even greater if I would have continued on. I thought that there was only one thing to do, and that was to start dialogue and discussions with the Orlando Magic about the decision that I made. I tried to be forthright and responsible, and to communicate with them right away how I was feeling. My decision came down to my love for the University of Florida and how much I want to be here, how much I love the people I work with and where my heart's at. I'm sorry that it got to this point. It's been a difficult time for a lot of people. As I said earlier, the Orlando Magic is a class organization, and I apologize to them and their fans. I made a mistake, and I'm trying to move forward the best way I can.''
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On the role his family played in his decision
"I have a great wife, and she's given me tremendous support through all of this. She has supported my decision both times, and the one thing that I've been blessed with is that I've got a family who's been supportive through this.''
On the Orlando Magic's view of the proceedings
"A lot needs to be understood about how cooperative the Magic were in all of this. They were totally professional, and they had an enormous amount of class. I know that this is a difficult situation for them, but they were easy to work with.''
On any outside factors in his decision
"This was my decision. There were no words or pressure by anyone to come back. It's what is in my heart. When you realize that you made a mistake and you try to move forward, people wonder what happened. It had nothing to do with the Magic, my family or the University of Florida. It was a decision that I made myself, and I'm sorry that anyone had to go through this.''
On his initial conversation with the Magic after he made his decision
"The emotional side of me came out when I got the job and signed the contract, and I thought that my heart was going to be totally into (coaching the Magic) once I got past that. When that ended, though, I just didn't have a good feeling in my heart. I woke up Saturday morning, and it was just not in my heart. I felt like the only thing I could do was be upfront with the Magic. I took some time to myself, and then I contacted them right away and expressed where my heart was. I apologized to them, and it was very clear to me that I had to do something, or it would totally unfair to them. They were expecting to get someone who would put their heart and soul into the job, and I just wasn't there.''
On any future NBA aspirations he may have
"As long as the University of Florida would like to have me here, this is where I want to be. In my heart, I want to be at the University of Florida for the rest of my time coaching. This has been a growing and learning experience in a lot of ways for me. I'm just interested in coming back to a job and a place that I love dearly. I have great relationships with the administration and our coaching staff, and I respect them all. This is where I want to be. My heart is in college, and my heart is at the University of Florida.''
On his communications with the Orlando Magic
"I have such respect for the Orlando Magic and the way they've handled everything. They are a class group of people, and I knew that from the beginning. In our conversations, I was speaking from my heart. We talked through the situation, and I tried to give them some time to collect their thoughts. They are a great organization, and I know that they are going to get a great head coach. In my heart, I felt like the right thing to do was to address the situation with them immediately.''
On his negotiation with the Orlando Magic
"They were great in terms of getting this situation resolved. They wanted some ideas from me, and they gave me some ideas and really wanted to work together to get to a resolution. The no-compete clause was something that we both talked about, and it was something that I was glad to accept because I know in my heart that I want to be at Florida.''
On when he began to make his decision
"There are so many things you go through, but I'm not making any excuses. I've got to accept responsibility for the decision that I've made. I'm just sorry that I put the Magic, Florida, my coaching staff and my family through this. It just didn't feel right. I haven't been a person that has jumped around from job to job, and my family and I have been fortunate to have been at some good places. I've been at Kentucky, Marshall and Florida, and that's been a great thing. When I woke up on Saturday morning, I felt like I had made a mistake and that I had to move forward. You can't correct it, but you can move forward. I hope I've handled it the right way with what the Magic have needed and asked me to do.''
On when he initially informed Florida Athletics Director Jeremy Foley of his feelings
"Jeremy's involvement with this has been more as a friend than anything else. I told Jeremy how I was feeling on Saturday, and he told me that he would be here to support me. Jeremy and Dr. Machen have been incredible. I understood that there were some issues with how much the University could be involved because I was under contract with the Magic. I never wanted to jeopardize them while I worked through this with the Magic, and my conversations with both Jeremy and Dr. Machen were much more out of friendship than anything else. When you go through something like this, you realize how solid those relationships are.''
On the role his father has played in this situation
"He's been great through all this stuff, and he's been very supportive. He's raised me in a way that I know that I have to take responsibility for my mistake. He told me to handle the situation in a first-class manner. I know that I've put a lot of people in a difficult situation, and I'm deeply sorry for that. The thing that's most bothersome for me is that there are some really great people who have been affected by all of this.''
On refraining from calling current Florida players or recruits during this process
"The Magic have been great through all of this, and they needed some time to regroup themselves. I thought that it would be inappropriate on my part to call anybody, so I had no contact with the players or recruits. I wanted to deal with the Magic because I want to see that franchise be successful. I thought that it was in everybody's best interest for me not to get on the phone and talk to people. I wanted to honor the way that the Magic wanted to handle the situation.''
On when he talked to the current UF players for the first time
"I talked to the players on (Wednesday night). I felt bad for them and their families because we couldn't talk. I wanted to not say anything out of respect to the Orlando Magic, and when the time was right to talk, I was able to talk to the players. The coaching staff that I have is terrific, and they've done a phenomenal job taking care of the players.''
On the Orlando Magic's fans
"When I talk about the Orlando Magic, I include their fans. I apologize to them profusely, but I also know that, in my heart, this is the best thing for the organization. I apologize to the fans of Orlando, and to the organization and players for what has happened. When I talk about the Orlando Magic, that's all-inclusive.''
On his feeling now that the situation was resolved
"I don?t feel relieved. I feel bad for what I put everybody through. None of this was done intentionally by me to hurt anyone. When you are dealing with quality people like the Orlando Magic and the University of Florida, you don't want to see anyone get hurt. I'm happy that it got resolved, but there are still some things that I am going to have to work through for myself. I'm not going to make excuses. I'm going to take responsibility and move forward.''
On how much of his decision was based on his love for the University of Florida
"The best way I can describe it is that my heart and my passion are here. I've always tried to put my heart and soul - everything I have - into a situation, and I didn't feel like I could do the job with the Magic where my heart was at. I love Florida, and there are great people here. The biggest thing for me was knowing where my passion was and where my heart was. I felt that the place I wanted to make an impact on people was at the University of Florida.''
On dealing with criticism stemming from this situation
"I need to be comfortable with where I'm at. Everyone's going to have an opinion, but I have to look at what I know about the situation. I didn't do anything to intentionally hurt anyone. It was a situation where I made a mistake, and I've apologized and accepted responsibility for it.''
On earning back the trust of players and recruits
"I made a mistake, and I think I've taken measures to try to rectify that mistake. I want them to see a guy that loves the University of Florida and is committed to it. I'm comfortable with that because that has never wavered.''
University of Florida player quotes
Rising sophomore Dan Werner
On the coaching situations he has experienced in his college career
"This has been a crazy situation. I was supposed to go to North Carolina State, but (Herb Sendek) decided to leave, so I came here. I was here for a year and then Coach Donovan decided to leave. It seemed like nothing could go right. Then he decided to come back and everything turned out great."
On the 2007-08 season
"Things are going to be a lot different next year. There really aren't any expectations. We may be picked to finish last in the SEC. We are fine with that. We have a lot of things to work for and a lot of hard work ahead of us."
Rising junior Walter Hodge
On Coach Donovan's decision
"When I saw his face, I got the feeling he didn't want to leave. I think he knew it was a mistake and he wasn't ready to move on."
On having Coach Donovan back at the helm
"This is great. We've got a coach that loves our players. We have the chance to do something special again. The last time I talked to coach I told him I was going to miss him and that I hoped he would come back before I graduated. He always talked about how he loved our players."
Rising sophomore Jonathan Mitchell
On the team's initial reaction when Coach Donovan accepted the head coaching job of the Orlando Magic
"The initial reaction is hard to put in words. There was a lot of stuff going through our minds. We just stuck together. That has made us stronger as a group. That just goes to show you that in the tough times your most important friends and family stick together. I think we have all grown from this.''
On advice given to him by former Florida players
"I speak to Corey (Brewer), Jo (Noah) and Al (Horford). They just told me not to shut it down, to keep working and keep going to class. At the same time, they were sad to see coach go, too. Everything worked out alright in the end.''
On the current UF team
"Basketball wise, this is a whole different team that it was a couple months ago. We are young and really haven't had a chance to prove ourselves. Maybe Coach just wanted the change to help us grow as men, basketball players and through life. This is going to be a great experience for us in the next couple months."