Florida will name its basketball court after former coach Billy Donovan, who led the Gators to two national championships and four Final Four appearances during his 19 seasons in Gainesville.
The court will officially be renamed on Feb. 15 at the men’s basketball game against Vanderbilt with Donovan in attendance during NBA All-Star break, the school announced Friday. Donovan left Florida in 2015 to become head coach of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder.
Former athletic director Jeremy Foley, who hired Donovan in 1996, and current athletic director Scott Stricklin recently delivered the news to Donovan in person.
“I was totally shocked,” Donovan said in a statement. “It was really emotional. I didn’t anticipate this. I’m thankful, I’m honored and just incredibly humbled by it all.”
Donovan went 467-185 during his time with the Gators and in addition to the national championships and Final Fours, Florida won six SEC championships, made 14 NCAA tournament appearances and had 16 20-win seasons.
The 2006 and 2007 national championships are the only back-to-back titles in men’s basketball over the past 25 years, and Florida reached a No. 1 national ranking in five different seasons under Donovan. That includes 2013-14 team, which won a program-record 30 straight games wins.
“It had been on my radar for some time, and Jeremy had made it clear it was something that was important to him,” Stricklin said in a statement. “During my time at Kentucky, I had a front-row seat for the impact Billy made, not just on the Florida program, but our league. You saw the kind of coach and person he was, and the respect he had around the country. This was just an obvious way to honor him.”