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UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA BASKETBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE


May 4, 2015


Billy Donovan

Jeremy Foley


JEREMY FOLEY:  Good morning, everybody.  Thank you for coming.  Is Mark Long here?  I told Mark we weren't having a media thing on Monday, so I apologize to him.  Thank you for coming here today.  Obviously, an emotional day on a lot of different levels.  You know how we all feel about Billy Donovan.  But when he called me last Thursday and said that he had peace in his heart with his decision, then we had peace in our heart as well, because we care about him.  We love him.  We want nothing but happiness for him and his family.  So peace in your heart is pretty strong.
It still made it a very emotional day last week because so many people care about him and care about his family.  So couple things I'd say on the basketball front.  This is the room we were in many years ago when we introduced him.  It didn't look quite like this, but we brought him down here to change the culture of Florida basketball.  At that point in time we were being told you can't do it in basketball at Florida.  Kind of didn't like hearing that and needed to find someone that believed as we did that this could be a special place, and he came down here.  To say that he made it a special place would be an underestimate.
We had a heck of a ride, and that is the thing we're going to miss.  This program is more than relevant.  You think of the National Championships, the Final Four appearances, the NCAA tournaments.  Again, this is a very, very good job because of Billy, and it will be a good job when we go out there to try to find the next person to lead us.
So the basketball piece he delivered in spades, and we thank him for that.  Obviously, very important in this institution to be who we want to be is to have a great basketball program and we have one now.  Because of the relentless efforts of Billy Donovan and his staff for the last 19, 20 years, so the basketball piece delivered.
What we really didn't know 19 years ago was the type of person we were getting.  One of the best, you know?  Chip Howard told me the other day that he embodies everything that this athletic program wants to be in terms of class, quality, integrity.
It's amazing to me the number of people‑‑ I was at a restaurant last night and waiters were coming up to me saying, hey, tell Coach Donovan thank you.
Because he cared about people, he did things the right way.  He lives his life the right way, and we love him.  I'll thank him for that forever.  He'll be our friend forever.  Again, that is the part we didn't know.  My gosh, that's what makes it so hard because basketball games come and go.  Relationships like this are once in a generation.
So I just want to be able to say that on behalf of everybody that represents our program, a lot of people in this room, lot of Gator fans everywhere, want to thank Billy for being that type of person.  You talk about a guy that's one in a million in my opinion.  Want to thank him for what he did in the university, but want to thank him for his friendship more than anything else.  So with that, I'll turn it over to Billy.
BILLY DONOVAN:  Thank you, Jeremy.  It's been a pretty emotional last week.  The first thing I want to say is I felt very, very strongly about standing up here today because I felt like the people that covered our program, at least when I've been here for 19 years, and the people standing in the back of the room and the UAA, I would have never felt comfortable leaving without at least addressing so many people here that I love so dearly, and it starts with Jeremy, because 19 years ago at 29 years old, he took a chance on me.  The relationship that he and I have established will go well beyond these 19 years.
I always felt like we were aligned.  We were on the same page, had a tremendous relationship.  I think what speaks volumes about Florida, and Jeremy is not only him being the best athletic director in the country, but I think you look around the people and his staff and how long everybody has been together.  This has been a really, really special place that's allowed Christine and I to grow and develop as people.  It's a community that's allowed my family and my children to grow and develop, and it's really, really a special place.
Very emotional moving on, but I have nothing but great things and love.  I think people may speculate was there anything wrong here with Florida, and that couldn't be the furthest thing from the truth.  In my opinion Florida has been nothing but perfect for Christine and I for 19 years, and I leave here with nothing but great memories, fond memories.
As Jeremy said for me, our team gets covered 30 or 40 times out of the year by all of you, but there are also 365 days in a year, and those other days for me and my wife and my kids have been filled with nothing but joy and pleasure and incredible relationships.  I think we all work hard in our jobs and we all want to do a good job in our job, but it's been the relationship part of it with all of you in this room and people that aren't here that's made this 19 years really special.
So I would be happy to answer any questions that anybody has and just wanted to make sure I made myself available.

Q.  You've had other opportunities over the 19 years.  Why now?  What made this opportunity too good to pass up?
BILLY DONOVAN:  Well, I think like I said a little bit earlier, it's the relationship piece of it.  When Jeremy and I sat down 19 years ago he shared a vision with me that I really bought into, I felt aligned with, and I really trusted.  I think with Sam Presti in Oklahoma City and their staff, I really felt like I was aligned to what they want to do with their organization, not only their team, but their whole organization.  The direction they're trying to move, the vision, the involvement in the community there in the state of Oklahoma and in Oklahoma City.  And for me I'm very appreciative how patient they were to lay those things out for me, and I really felt aligned with a lot of those things and shared in a lot of the same values and beliefs that they have and that's probably what made it different for me.

Q.  Was there ever any thought, particularly when you rebuilt the program the second time and got it to the Final Four, was there that thought in the back of your mind about staying here your whole career and having your whole family grow up here and being that kind of an icon coach?  Obviously, you've built a legacy here, but being a coach who stays at one college for your whole career?
BILLY DONOVAN:  I don't know.  Like I've always said, it's so hard to predict and project the future.  Things change.  It's very rare as a head coach in college that you can honestly say you've had the same athletic director for 19 years and the same administrative staff.  I've had the same administrative assistant.  I've had the same secretary.  All the way around there's been so much continuity but as time goes on, continuity changes at some point.  I tried to be open and honest when I was asked questions about the NBA, and never wanted to mislead anybody or anything else like that.  But it's something I've always been intrigued by, but I also knew it wasn't something I wanted to do for the sake of doing.  I wanted it to be right all the way around for me, and I just felt like this situation was right for me.

Q.  How did you tell your players?  How have they reacted?
BILLY DONOVAN:¬† That's been the hardest part.¬† Timing sometimes in life we don't have control over.¬† When I came back on Thursday, all of our guys had basically moved on from final exams and kind of gotten home for the break in between the end of the semester and the start of Summer A.¬† The only two players had a chance to talk to face‑to‑face was Alex Murphy and Dorian Finney‑Smith.
I drove back to Gainesville.  I spent the whole entire day as quickly as I could to make contact with all the players by phone and communicate with those guys by phone.  I was really, really blessed with the way all those guys handled it.  They were very happy for me.  They understood.  They handled it great with me on the phone.  I think in today's day and age with social media and how much stuff gets out there, I was concerned about the players because they're seeing and hearing things, and I wanted to keep them informed.  But outside of Dorian and Alex Murphy, I've just had the only opportunity I've had to communicate has been by phone.

Q.¬† When Coach Spurrier left here, one of the things he talked about was he said that 12 years he felt was a pretty long time in this business.¬† He sort of intimated that he wanted to go try the challenge of going to the pro ranks.¬† Was there any part of you that felt that way like the length of time and maybe the continuity that you wanted to see would factor in and that you might not‑‑ you just kind of felt like it was time in some way?
BILLY DONOVAN:  I don't really feel I ever felt it was time.  I never really looked at it that way.  The reason I say that is because of Jeremy and because of my staff.  Even with John Pelphrey being with me for the first stint and then coming back, Darren Hertz with me the whole entire time.  The relationship with Rashon Burno over the years, and Matt McCall being a manager and going away and coming back, even the situation with Anthony Grant.
I never looked at it like it was time to go.  I think if people in those leadership positions change and maybe there is a different position, you know, I think if Jeremy was not here and somebody else came in with a different vision that I didn't really feel comfortable with or felt aligned with I may feel that it was time to maybe make a change.  But there was no reason for me to feel like a change was needed.  I was just not going to pick up and walk out of Florida unless it was something really unique and special in my mind, and that's what I feel the situation in Oklahoma is.
It's a special and unique situation with a person in Sam Presti that I feel in terms of his vision, I'm aligned with, and that's comforting.  Because any time you make a change, I think you've got to go into a situation that you feel strongly about that you believe in.  So for me, I never looked at it like, okay, it's time.  Do I need to get out of here and make a move?  There was no reason to because with Jeremy here, everything has stayed the same in terms of the way he and I were aligned, and that's our relationship.
I don't want to get emotional here either, but I don't think people understand the relationship that he and I had.  Do we agree on everything?  No.  But there is a lot of love between he and I and a lot of care.  Like I said, he changed my life in a lot of ways, and I'll always be grateful for him and for Florida.

Q.  When did you know this was a legitimate possibility?  Was it within the last week or two or at some point later in the season?
BILLY DONOVAN:  No, when I was going through the season I was basically coaching our team.  Obviously, it was a challenging year in trying to help our guys get better.  When the season kind of came to an end, I think if you talk to our staff and the people in our offices, I worked as hard as I could to try to help our guys grow, get better, improve the experience that those guys went through.  How do we learn from it?  Where can I get better?  I think the growth part of it, anytime you want to keep growing and getting better, that was really important to me.
So there was nobody that had reached out to me, third party, fourth party or anything else like that.  I know there was a lot of speculation and things like that, but it really didn't get underway until last Sunday in terms of when a phone call came in.

Q.  You had two former head coaches on your staff that are still here.  Have you, are you going to have any role or suggestions you think for how Jeremy proceeds?
BILLY DONOVAN:  Well, I think Jeremy knows the way I feel about John Pelphrey and just the way he's been by my side all the way along his whole entire career.  John and I, I coached John.  He was here for a while.  He came back.  I think he was a vital part to the success of the program since I've been here.  I'd put Anthony in the same category.
Jeremy is the best athletic director in the country, and he's done this before.  I just basically told him that I'm here in any way to help and support and assist in any way.  I'm not going to try to inject myself in anything going forward from here, but I do want to see this program do extremely well.
I think if you guys recall when I first got here, and Pat Dooley and I were talking about this at Bennigan's, which is no longer in existence, can you build a basketball program here?  Like no one's been able to do it.  Can you do it?  And I think my whole point was there have been pockets of success.  It's shown signs of success, but nothing has been sustained over a period of time.  So that's what the goal was to get a program that could be sustained over a period of time.
And there are a lot of people that have played a role in that, because assistants have come and gone and coaches leave and take head jobs, but I'm going to try to assist Edgar anyway they see fit that I can assist.  And people that Jeremy may or may not look at, I don't probably know them all, but obviously the relationship I have with John is great, Anthony is great, and my staff is great.

Q.  You have four kids signed for the upcoming to come in.  Have you spoken with them and can you categorize what their reaction has been?
BILLY DONOVAN:  Yeah, I reached out to all of those guys as well.  The part that's been challenging is I haven't been able to get to everybody as you can imagine, and even parents and things like that.  Again, all the kids were great.  They were first class.  They were very, very nice.  They understood.  They were very supportive and positive.
And I basically told them that my feelings to Florida haven't changed at all.  It's a great, great place.  I think probably I know the national letter of intent says you're not signing with an institution.  I think everybody would agree there is a reason there is a recruiting process because they want to know who they're playing for.  I think they'll have to go through a little bit of a process themselves to digest this.  But as it relates to me talking to them and speaking to them, the one thing I've said to them is I have the utmost trust, respect for Jeremy in this process.
What I don't want to see happen is what's been built over 19 years take a step back.  I don't want to see that.  I want to see this growing.  Because I think for such a long time, as I said earlier, everybody said, could you sustain something?  And just because it's a transition period right now, I want to see this be sustained.

Q.  How would you categorize the talent on hand?  The guys coming back?  The four guys on the bench who weren't able to play?  How do you feel about what's going to be inherited by the next coach?
BILLY DONOVAN:¬† I feel like it's a good team.¬† I feel like those guys are going to grow.¬† I think Kasey will be a year older, a year better.¬† DeVon Walker was out with an ACL.¬† But he's a year older, more mature.¬† I think Dorian Finney‑Smith's the same thing, John Egbunu has had a chance to sit out, so has Brandone Francis.¬† I think those are four good quality freshmen.
But coming off last season, this needs to be a high level of growth for those guys.  There are great kids in the program, great kids I trust, kids that are committed to being here, committed to Florida and want to grow and get better.
But I feel good about the team.  But starting off last season, being ranked and then probably starting this upcoming season unranked, they're going to have to prove their way.  But I do think what they went through last year will help them move in the right direction.

Q.  When you came here, I'm sure a lot of your friends say you're taking over the basketball program at a football school.  Was that something you felt and 19 years later, what is your feeling about where this program stands nationally?
BILLY DONOVAN:  Well, I think I took a different approach because I trusted Jeremy.  I think there has been in these situations and 19 years ago, there was, I think, a stigma out there that you could not be successful in both.  You had to be one or the other.  You couldn't have a good basketball and football program, and I think Jeremy will tell you I've always embraced football here.  The one thing I've tried to do since I've been here is to integrate myself with the rest of the coaches.
I think Jeremy's got a very, very clear vision that everything on this campus is extremely important, and we all need to pull together and help each other.¬† We need to be in a situation that we're making each other better as coaches and helping each other's programs out as best we can.¬† I even go back to my second year here.¬† And an hour and a half before the Tennessee‑Florida football game here, Steve Spurrier is meeting with Mike Miller.¬† That is the kind of relationships and environment Jeremy has created here.¬† I don't think most athletic directors do that.
So it was really never about, for me, football versus basketball.  It was how do I as a coach bring value to the University of Florida?  How do I elevate the program in basketball with the resources that are here?  And at the same time, make the program, the school, and everybody better from it.  That's what's different here.  That's what makes this place special.
There are a lot of good coaches, and a lot of good sports, and Jeremy cares about each sport very much.  But he also cares much, much more about the University of Florida.  So I've never looked at it football school, basketball school.  Certainly from a financial standpoint I think everybody knows what the football program does here.  And I always believed that when football is doing well here, it's great for the university because it creates and provides resources for other schools.  I think the same thing could be said for basketball.

Q.  The program you're leaving, do you feel strongly that it's going to have a great chance of being a contender like it was during your time?
BILLY DONOVAN:  I have confidence in Jeremy.  I have confidence in Jeremy.  That's who I have confidence in.  Every job is hard.  No job is easy.  I said to somebody, it's very, very rare in a coaching job over 19 years that you get a chance to touch every possible situation as it relates to winning and losing.  Losing in a National Championship Game, winning a National Championship, being the first ever SEC Championship, getting beaten by Manhattan in the NCAA tournament, three Elite Eights and can't quite get to the Final Four, get to the Final Four, SEC Championships, falling short, the ebbs and flows, I've touched it all.  Losing season, NIT, I've touched it all.
I think the one thing that's helped maintain a high level of success over a body of work for 19 years is that Jeremy and I have never wavered on the vision of Florida and what we need to do.  And certainly me being the head coach, there had to be a lot of hard work.  It had to be putting the right people in there.  I've always said you're only as good as the people standing around you.  And over the last 19 years, our program has only been as good because of the people I've had a chance to work with.

Q.  Since you've accepted the new job in Oklahoma City, have you had contact with the head basketball coach at the University of Oklahoma?
BILLY DONOVAN:  It was really, really nice for the press conference.  Lon, you talk about different parallels, Lon showed up to the press conference and so did Travis Ford.  I coached Travis Ford at Kentucky with John.  Then, obviously Lon having to come in and replace him as a Florida connection there.  So you have two people coaching there that I have great respect and admiration for and a great relationship with.

Q.  Have you decided to take anybody from your staff with you?  And you've said many times you've been intrigued by the NBA.  What specifically intrigued you?
BILLY DONOVAN:¬† Well, I think the first thing is getting out there and seeing who is there and looking at their staff there, and I'll probably sit down with their front office and go through some of those things.¬† So nothing decision‑wise has been made on anything like that as of right now.¬† What made the situation for me unique was the vision that they have for their organization, the kind of players they're trying to bring in, the kind of environment they're trying to create, the commitment they're trying to make, how they want to do things.¬† I think everything that was important to me in making a decision like that, I felt very, very aligned with and felt very, very comfortable, and really had a strong belief in what Sam had talked to me about.¬† And in talking to him, I think, maybe there were some other opportunities to explore things but for whatever reason just wasn't right.¬† Probably really good organizations, but I think with the way it was laid out to me, it put me in a very, very comfortable situation there.¬† That kind of to me is always about the people.¬† I think it's about the people, and if you're aligned with people and we're all moving in the same direction, that's when you have a lot of talented people around you and you can do some really special things.

Q.  There is some sentiment out there for something to be named after you, the court, closet, bookcase, something to be named after you?
BILLY DONOVAN:  Jeremy's going to put my name below his door.

Q.  Something, anything.  Ultimately, how do you want the fans to remember you here?
BILLY DONOVAN:  Wow, you know, I think that people will always look at wins and losses and those kinds of things.  I hope that I'm able to leave a big gaping hole here, and I don't mean that from an arrogant standpoint.  I mean that that I was able to make an impact.  That I was able to impact people's lives.  That I was able to bring value to people.  That I was able to help people grow from staff to players to the administration.
I just hope that I brought value.  I hope I made Florida better.  I'm not talking about from wins and losses.  I hope I made Florida better as an institution.  I want the people in the community to kind of remember me as somebody that really cared deeply because I had my kids grow up in their primary years and their development had a lot to do with the community and the people here.
I think the biggest thing that I would say is I hope I really left and brought value here and maybe changed the perception of the culture here.  Just that I worked as hard as I could.  I did everything I could.  I cared deeply about the program.  I cared deeply about Florida, and just wanted to leave a dent and to bring value.  And I hope that by my presence for 19 years that the place is better for having me here.

Q.  I know this is kind of far off at this point, but with so many former players in the NBA, have you thought at all about maybe trying to bring some of them in and have those guys there that you've coached before?
BILLY DONOVAN:  Well, I think those are decisions that the front office will sit down and make.  Right now the roster is pretty set.  They've obviously, Sam and his staff have done a great job assembling a team, assembling players.  I think they have a vision and an outlook of how they want to continue to build and move forward with their team.  Those are decisions I'm sure we'll be part of.
But when you're in those situations, you have to trust.  I have trust that they're going to do what's best for the organization.  It's no different than here.  I'm with Jeremy, and there are things that he's going to make decisions on that I have to trust.  And know that he's got, in looking out for the best interest of everybody involved.  I feel like there I'm in a situation that I can kind of trust them in terms of making decisions that are going to be best for the organization.

Q.  Whenever you live in a place for 20 years you obviously fall in love with the little things.  So the question is what are some of the things about the university of Florida and Gainesville in general that you're going to miss when you're in Oklahoma?
BILLY DONOVAN:  Wow, I mean driving in my parking spot, going to Haile Plantation, going over to Cedar Key, Crescent Beach, going out to dinner.  There are a lot of things that are great about the community here.  But I think the one thing that I'm really going to do is keep a very, very open mind too because I know that Oklahoma City has got a lot of great things as well and a lot of great people there.  I just haven't had a chance to know any of them.
But anytime you leave a place you're going to feel that way.  I felt that way I felt there were things I was leaving behind in Lexington, and things I was leaving behind in Huntington, West Virginia, and clearly there will be things I'll be leaving behind here.  But the thing I'm leaving behind more than anything else is a lot of relationships and those kind of things.

Q.  I was curious, the fact that OKC has the state to itself as a pro franchise, is that a significant positive in your mind?
BILLY DONOVAN:  I'm not quite sure I understand what you mean by that.

Q.  No competition, NFL teams, Major League Baseball?
BILLY DONOVAN:  The one thing I've heard, I've never seen a game there.  I apologize for not understanding the question.  Everything that I've heard is that the environment, the crowd, the enthusiasm, the energy, the way the city has taken to the program and the organization is really remarkable.  It's an extremely special environment to be part of, so I'm looking forward to it.  I've never witnessed a game there.  I've seen games on TV from there, and it looks like a tremendous place to play, and I'm excited about that.  How that factors in with two state schools there that have good athletic programs, I don't know.
But at least in Oklahoma City, there is no question there is a strong following and commitment there inside the community to the thunder.

Q.  You recently signed an extension going into I believe next year.  What was it about this opportunity in Oklahoma City that made you decide to leave?
BILLY DONOVAN:  Well, like I said, I didn't go into any of this stuff with the idea that I wanted to leave.  That never crossed my mind.  This had nothing to do with me being unhappy, and I think a lot of times people will look at that.  It was an opportunity.  I felt like in 19 years I've touched every possible scenario as you can possibly touch at the University of Florida.  I think for myself, an opportunity to grow and develop and continue to improve, be challenged in a different way.  And believe me, I was challenged here every day I was here.
Like I said earlier, I think the vision really resonated with me when I went there, and really believed in the direction that they want to go.

Q.  Just curious if your dad either offered any advice or whether you sought him and said am I doing the right thing or anything like that?
BILLY DONOVAN:  No, he was great.  My dad was unbelievable.  I did speak to him.  Obviously him and my mom moving here to Gainesville I think speaks volumes about how they feel about Gainesville, the community, and obviously the university of Florida.  But, no, he was great.  The only thing he said to me is look at it, and just don't have any regrets in whatever you do.  Whatever your heart is in, just don't have any regrets.  If you felt like you wanted to leave, that's fine.  If your heart is in here just staying here and you just want to stay here for however long it is, that's great too.
But he was very, very supportive.  But really to be honest with you, I think in those situations you can start to go out and pick different people's brains and get advice and stuff.  But at the end of the day, it's going to come back to what's in my heart and how I feel.  Because you can take someone else's advice, make a decision and you're making a decision based on what somebody else said, and I think I need to evaluate it personally more than anything else.

Q.  There is no chance you'll change your mind?  Nothing will happen where you wake up tomorrow and have a change of heart?
BILLY DONOVAN:  I don't think so.  I know you've got to ask it, but no.  I know I've got a history of that, but no.  I feel very, very good, very comfortable.  I think as Jeremy said, I have peace about doing what I'm doing.  The harder part for me is the relationships here. That is the hard part.
I'd like to say in closing, again, I really appreciate everybody being here.  It's been an incredible experience for me all the way around.  I want to thank you for covering us over the years.  Some of you have been here obviously longer than others.  And I just wanted to make sure I at least got back and got in front of everybody because I felt like you guys deserved that and you were owed that.  I just didn't want to all of a sudden do something and all of a sudden nobody sees or hears from me again.
So I told Jeremy I felt compelled that I wanted to sit down and just be able to share and answer questions for you guys.  So I appreciate you coming.  As Jeremy said, the relationship will continue on.  It will continue on.
So if you're ever out in Oklahoma City and want to look me up, I'd love to see any of you.  I really, really appreciate it.  It's been a wonderful ride.  It's obviously emotional for me, but I do appreciate all of you and just wanted to say thank you.
JEREMY FOLEY:  Any questions for me about anything going forward?

Q.  Characteristics you're looking for in a new coach?  What do you want?  Obviously it's a tall task, but what are you looking for in a person to replace Billy?
JEREMY FOLEY:  I'd like a guy that played in the NBA for 53 games, GA at the University of Kentucky, Assistant Coach of Kentucky.  Obviously certainly the last two or three days we've been dealing with the emotions of Billy leaving.  I think you can see how we all feel about him.
We've been collecting information on a number of coaches.  Candidly when Oklahoma City decided to make a change, we paid attention too.  We heard some undercurrents that this is a possibility, so we began looking at coaches probably several weeks ago.  But we know what Billy has built here, and I think Billy said it himself, we're not taking a step back.  We want to keep this thing going in the right direction.
I think there are a lot of people doubting that we can do that, and that fires us up because we have a good job here.  We have a great institution, great commitment, great support.  The same conversation we had with Billy 19 years ago, we're going to have with another coach saying, hey, let's keep this thing going.  Let's build this thing.
So characteristics are really that.  Obviously, doing things the right way, treating people the right way.  That is going to be on the top of the list.

Q.  Will Anthony and John be considered?
JEREMY FOLEY:  I think that the slate is totally wide open right now.  You know how I like to do things.  I'll sit down with our internal group.  Our first meeting with them is this afternoon.  Haven't discussed anything with anybody yet.  But we've not made any decisions but nobody has greater respect for those two guys than I do.  Their contributions to this program, and what they've done with their lives, I love them too.  They're all about the right things as well.  So certainly those are people we'll be talking about along with others.
We have a process here.  We have a job to hire the best basketball coach for the university of Florida.

Q.  Obviously you've talked about the emotions.  But just how big of a blow, personal blow this is for you, and how much will that play into your decision finding someone you have that synergy with?
JEREMY FOLEY:  I don't know if you can repeat that.  It's not a personal blow.  It's disappointing, but things happen.  Steve Spurrier leaving here was difficult because you saw what he did.  He was a good friend and continues to be a good friend.  Like I said, we've been dealing with a lot of sadness around here.  It's a guy we really, really like, a guy we all love, a guy that's been part of our program family, he's grown up in the profession with us.  So that's the sadness point.  But at some point you have a job to do and you have to get beyond that.
Obviously, there are some attributes that Billy totally has that we'll look for again.  I talked to you about treating people right, energy, fit, you heard me talk about that before.  But I think Billy talked a little bit about the type of program we are here.  All 21 sports are important to us.  All 21 coaches or 16 coaches, depending on how you count them, they're all important to us.  So fit into how we do things, what is important to us, because, as I said earlier, Billy epitomized every single one of those things, so those things will be important to us.

Q.  This is now the fourth coach, really, in the last year that you've had to replace.  Muschamp, Rhonda, Buddy Alexander, would you say Florida is in a state of transition?
JEREMY FOLEY:  I mean, anytime a coach leaves there is a transition.  But I think it's inherent with the business.  Certainly Will was the difficult decision because of the circumstances there and the way we felt about him.  But Buddy retired after a stellar career.  Rhonda did something that after three National Championships, she wanted to chase another dream.  Billy is chasing a dream.
It's not like you're having a huge transition because a bunch of bad people aren't doing their job or doing their job the wrong way.  It's part of what we're doing.  If you can wave a wand, they're still here and things are perfect, and we're all winning and we're undefeated.  That's not the way our world works.
Besides the fact it's all stacked up on each other and it's happening in a relatively short period of time, it's kind of inherent in the business of college sports.¬† College sports is a transitional business.¬† Athletes come and go, graduate, leave early, what have you.¬† But I don't look at it in terms of transition.¬† I look at it as a blessing.¬† You look at Buddy Alexander, two‑time National Championship coach, and Rhonda Faehn, three‑time National Championship coach, Billy Donovan, two‑time National Championship, we're blessed to work with people like that.
I think it shows what this place can accomplish if you hire the right people.  That's the challenge for the next search here.  We need to hire a person that can achieve at the highest level.

Q.  Do you feel energized personally?
JEREMY FOLEY:  I'm not energized when a guy like Billy Donovan walks out of the room.  As you can see I'm trying to control my emotions on that.  I always had a lot of energy.  You sit here and go through the sadness, if that's the right word, and the emotions, and the fact that it's surreal.  Billy's not going to be here anymore.  He's been here so long, but then you wake up and you have a job to do.  Great staff to work with, and great job to offer.  That excites us.
You know what excites us?  When people say I can't continue because Billy is leaving.  It can't continue because that's not a great job.  I don't buy that for one second.  I'm going to tell you right now, it's a really good job.  The competitive juices get going.  But you don't get reenergized when people leave.  You don't.
You've got to take a step back, control your emotions.  Let your emotions go, and then a day later or two days later you have a job to do and you go do it.  And that's what we're doing here now.

Q.  You keep talking about your emotions and you got choked up earlier.  But can you give us insight as to what that was like?  The phone call or first time you talk to Billy and you realized the reality of the situation?
JEREMY FOLEY:  Not unexpected.  Once Billy met with them, and he kept me abreast, and those meetings continued over a couple of days.  We all had a lot of emotions.  Will he go?  Will he stay?  But I wasn't shocked.  As I said earlier, and I meant it when he said, I have peace in my heart.  Okay, good for him.  Now you're happy for him.  Achieving a lifetime goal and to be totally selfish about that and all you worry about is your own emotion, that's what it would have been, selfish.
But it was difficult in the sense that something really, really good was ending, and that's how we've all felt about it.  But at some point in time you have to put on your professional hat and go do your job.

Q.  Are you at peace with it now?
JEREMY FOLEY:  Yeah, I was at peace at it when he told me.  It's his life, his career, his goals and his decisions, so totally at peace with it.  Will I miss him?  Every day.  Will I make sure that I have a relationship with him forever?  We will all do that.
But I'm not sitting here saying I cannot believe Billy left.  How can he do that?  I've never had those emotions.  I'll be sad.  And that may sound a little like we all walk around with tears in our eyes.  It's just it's something good, we all loved, enjoyed and had a lot of fun.  Golly, we had fun.  When that's over, yeah, there is some sadness.  But that will be there forever.  The good part is we're excited about the future and we're fine with it.

Q.  You say your competitive juices get flowing when people challenge you about the Florida basketball program.  Tell folks why is it a great job?
JEREMY FOLEY:  Well, first of all, back whenever we hired Billy the exact same thing was said.  All they care about is football down there.  Don't go down there.  Even Billy was advised by some of his closest friends don't go down there.  It's The University of Florida it's a very good recruiting base in the state of Florida.  The commitment we have internally is second to none.  I'll give Billy Donovan 90% of the credit or 99.9% of the credit, but I promise you a lot of people in this program were heavily involved in changing the culture of Florida basketball, and he'll tell you that.
He had great coaches, great commitment from a lot of people.  We have resources, a great fan base, we play in a great league.  Again, why people would say this is not a good job is beyond me.  Do we have the nicest arena in the world?  No.  Getting ready to put $60 million into it.  Will it be the nicest when it's done?  No, it will be really, really nice.
Do we treat our coaches well?  Do we have a great opportunity to academics?  People come to The University of Florida and get one of the best degrees in the country.  So there are a lot of pieces here.  Certainly the tradition piece that we were missing through the years, that's what Billy put on the table in my opinion.
You go down to our practice facility and see Final Four floors down there, we have five of them.  How many schools in America can say that?  How many schools in this league can say that?  The one up in Lexington, can.  So there is a lot to sell here for a new coach.  So I'm excited about that.
Again, I just think when people sell The University of Florida short in anything, I guess all of our competitive juices go on.

Q.  You've talked about the timetable maybe being a couple of weeks.  Do you see yourself talking to a number of people or could you zero in on a guy if you really like him?
JEREMY FOLEY:  Yeah, we'll meet this afternoon with our internal staff.  The style here is to do that.  We've done that before.  Did that in football a couple times, three times, I guess.  But for me to talk about exactly where we're going to go, the process we're going to do, I'm not comfortable until I have a chance to sit down with the staff.
They are people‑‑ and I told you before, we started making a lot of good hiring decisions around here when I involve the staff more.¬† So that's why I like to do that.¬† They're all talented.¬† They all help.¬† They're not afraid to tell me what's on their mind.¬† They're not yes people.¬† They're honest people.¬† They care and know this university as well as I do.
So to talk about exactly about that is hard for me to say right now.  Obviously when we make a hire, we're going to ask that question again and I'll tell you the process.  So I've told you all this before, and some of you understand this, and some of you contribute to it.  Lot of rumors and scrolls across the bottom of ESPN.  I don't know where that stuff comes from.  I haven't talked to one coach.  I haven't had time to do that.  I've talked to Billy Donovan, and we'll go from here.
But confident we have a really good job.  I think we're going to have a great candidate pool, and we'll figure out what the best fit it is for The University of Florida, and someone that can be successful here and win here.

Q.  So it sounds you don't have a candidate in mind yet.  It sounds like the national search has begun?
JEREMY FOLEY:  It's not begun until I meet with my staff this afternoon.

Q.  This afternoon.  When can we expect a coach, a few weeks?
JEREMY FOLEY:  Yeah, I don't want to put a timetable on it.  I think the day with the release with Billy, two or three weeks.  But with that, the key is to have something in place obviously sometime in June because July is a huge recruiting month, and you're not going to hire a coach on July 1.
So we have some time to do our due diligence.  That's what we like to do.  Call a lot of people, and try to figure out the right person.  But I don't anticipate that happening.  Again, who knows when it will happen.  But there is some time here.  There is some time here.  Thank you guys so much, and appreciate all you do for the Gators.  Thanks.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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