The body of Florida's 2009-10 season is still warm and Billy Donovan has already been attached to another job. This one makes no sense, however.
St. John's, once a pillar of The City Game, is crumbling. They just fired Norm Roberts, who cleaned up the program, but had only two winning seasons out of six. In a New York Times article, Roberts was criticized by New York AAU and High School coaches for not "bending the rules," essentially not greasing the palms of local coaches who can steer kids to certain programs. Of course, the irony is that a Catholic school fired a squeaky clean coach for not playing dirty.
Inside the five boroughs, St. John's is still a brand name. That's why so many want a big name for the Red Storm. The first name that comes up is Catholic and Long Island native Billy Donovan. Not only did the Daily News' great basketball writer Dick Weiss call for it, the NY Post did the same complete with the anonymous sources that the Post has built their reputation on.
The reasons the News and Post give for Donovan in Queens is that he's Catholic, from New York and played in the Big East at Providence. Some how, he would appreciate half as much salary (but twice the taxes) playing at a Catholic commuter school in Queens in a 16-team superconference without football funding or great facilities. St. John's likes to promote that they play in Madison Square Garden. But they play half their games on-campus in a building that seats as many as UF's Southwest Rec would if you pulled in bleachers. St. John's can barely compete in the Big East, much less a SEC Powerhouse like Florida.
The News and Post also ignore the reasons why Donovan stays in Gainesville and has turned down Kentucky and the Orlando Magic. Donovan makes a crapton of money, none of which is taxed by a city or state income tax like in New York. The O'Connell Center isn't fantastic, but UF's basketball complex is so nice, it became a model for facilities at Kentucky and Texas. Also, the idea that Donovan, as a New Yorker, would go back is absurd. His Gainesville neighborhood is the highest concentration of people from Rockville Centre, NY south of RVC that isn't my family's house. (My family is from the same street as the Donovans.) Why would he uproot to salvage a program that can't pay him, can't provide the facilities needed to win and doesn't have the resources to do either?
Donovan has already been quoted that he's not interested. He told the NY Post;
"I am very happy here, and we have a very good team coming back next season," Donovan told the Post in a text message. "St. John's has a great tradition, and I have great respect for that program.
Donovan also told the Gainesville Sun's Pat Dooley;
"I have not talked to anyone from St. John's. There was an alum that reached out to me who knows people at St. Johns and the Post."
Dooley also says that the Post report of St. John's contacting UF Athletic Director Jeremy Foley is "false," according to Foley. As long as Donovan is at Florida and UF is perceived as a football school that plays basketball to pass the time, Donovan will be attached by others to open jobs. It just so happens that this year's rumor came early.