Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Foley Goes from Certain to Searching

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Foley Goes from Certain to Searching

Article excerpt

Byline: Sam Borden

GAINESVILLE -- He was sitting in a barber's chair in Destin when he felt his cell phone ring. The clippers were out, so he ignored it.

But then the phone rang again. And again. And again.

That's when Jeremy Foley knew. News had broken that Billy Donovan was headed to the Orlando Magic, and suddenly Foley, the University of Florida's athletic director, was in the spotlight once again.

The search for the Gators' next basketball coach had officially begun.

"I knew all you [reporters] weren't calling me to tell me he was staying," Foley said.

Over the past two months, Foley had seemed supremely confident that Donovan wasn't going anywhere, almost to the point of being dismissive of the possibility. At one point, Foley was quoted as saying, "I don't worry about that. The University of Florida doesn't worry about that. Billy's made it pretty clear that he's committed to the University of Florida, so I can't help rumors and never have worried about rumors."

However, Foley's perspective changed Tuesday when he talked with Donovan at the Southeastern Conference meetings. Donovan had informed Foley that the Magic had reached out to him a few days earlier, but it was only on Tuesday -- when Donovan spoke passionately about considering the job -- that Foley realized how realistic the possibility had become.

Foley wouldn't say he was blindsided. Donovan had never made a secret of his attraction to the NBA, and even though Foley didn't believe the coach would jump this summer -- after all, they had agreed in principle on a contract extension -- he said he was only "sad," not shocked, when it happened.

There's no blame here. Foley's attitude and public statements about Donovan's status probably were more certain than they should have been, but they didn't have any bearing on the end result. …

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