— Chris Harry (@GatorZoneChris) May 24, 2015
In late April Billy Donovan accepted an offer to become the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, thus ending a two-decade run as head coach at Florida. During his time in Gainesville, Donovan led the Gators to two national titles, four Final Four appearances, seven Elite Eights (including a stretch of four straight years from 2011-14), six SEC regular season titles and four SEC tournament titles.
To say that he accomplished a great deal in Gainesville would be a major understatement, especially when considering the program’s history prior to his arrival.
Yet for as great of an impact that Donovan and his family had on the school, its basketball program and fan base, those who support the Gators impacted the Donovans as well. Sunday the family thanked the fan base in the form of a full-page ad in the Gainesville Sun, which can be seen in the embedded tweet above.
Their message read as follows:
“GOODBYE” is so difficult, especially after having spent two decades in this community. (And as you’ve seen before, leaving you all has never been easy for us!)
“The University of Florida and Gainesville embraced us from the day we arrived so long ago, and we have grown to love not only this local community that has so loved us, but all of Gator Nation — from Crescent Beach to Cedar Key, from Miami to New York, from Jacksonville to San Fransisco, to all over the nation and globe.
“We are so grateful to Jeremy Foley, staff and leaders at the University of Florida, along with scores of players and coaches who have become part of our family. And, of course, the Rowdy Reptiles.
We leave with hearts full of love and cherished memories of euphoria and heartbreak — on and off the court — shared at every step with our Gator family.
We are excited for all that Mike White brings as he puts his own unique mark on Florida basketball…Fannnnntastic!
And so, rather than goodbye, …until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.
— Billy and Christine Donovan
They were sure to allude to Donovan’s first “dance” with the NBA, as he accepted an offer from the Orlando Magic in 2007 before changing his mind and deciding to return to Florida. This time around, the opportunity to coach a team led by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook was too enticing to pass up.