Billy Donovan, who coached the University of Florida to two national championships and four Final Fours in 19 seasons, resigned Thursday to become the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, the NBA team announced Thursday.
Donovan, 49, who has flirted with making the leap to the NBA several times in recent seasons, going so far as to accept an offer to coach the Orlando Magic in 2007 before backing out and returning to Florida days later, will be tasked with coaching one of the league's most talent-laden teams, albeit one that missed the playoffs after an injury-plagued season.
"I want to thank [Florida athletic director] Jeremy Foley, the players, coaches and staff I've had the chance to work with during my time at Florida," Donovan said in a statement released by the university. "The administrative support and stability has been unbelievable here, and it is an incredibly difficult decision to leave that. I knew that it would take a unique opportunity to leave the University of Florida and that is clearly how I look at this situation."
Donovan, who led the Gators to an overall record of 467-186, replaces Scott Brooks, who was fired as the Thunder's coach after seven seasons. Oklahoma City finished this season 45-37, narrowly falling short of the final spot in the Western Conference playoffs. Kevin Durant missed 55 games because of injuries.
Yahoo Sports reported Donovan will received a five-year deal paying $6 million a year, a raise of $2 million on his annual earnings at Florida.
"We warmly welcome Billy and his family to Oklahoma City," team chairman Clayton Bennett said. "He is the perfect fit for our organization and for our community and we look forward to a long and successful relationship."
Donovan, who has had a long-standing relationship with Thunder general manager Sam Presti, faced a bit of a rebuild at Florida following a 16-17 finish last season. After 16 straight 20-win seasons, the Gators missed the postseason for the first time since 1997-98.