For a guy paid to cover college basketball, ESPN’s Jay Bilas is far more offended by Billy Donovan walking out on the NBA’s Orlando Magic than he was by the coach skipping out on Florida’s recruits, proclaiming that “Donovan’s recent maneuver is one of the most unprofessional I can recall in college sports.”
Adults that are really happy where they are — and constantly say so — do not negotiate a multimillion-dollar, multiyear contract, agree in principle to a deal and then execute the contract without thinking things through. Donovan created, by himself, a huge mess. His actions affected a large number of people and cost people a lot of money.
Orlando looks foolish to have relied on Donovan and his word and sold a lot of season tickets when he agreed to become coach. Now Orlando has to start over and lost valuable time with the NBA draft approaching. Sure, Orlando can sue Donovan for damages — and there are damages. But they won’t do so because it will take the focus away from where it should be, and that is moving forward. VCU coach Anthony Grant took a hit for considering leaving the Rams so publicly, then having to turn tail and announce that he never met with Florida. Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley put a lot of needless miles on the university jet to replace Donovan and now has to do some damage control to deal with the fallout.
Donovan made a big mess out of this, and it was horribly unprofessional.
Bilas goes on to suggest Donovan reimburse Florida for their costs incurred in trying to replace him, along with recommending the coach sign a contract extension — “the one that was sitting on his desk in 2006, not the one that was negotiated after the Final Four this season.”
Only then, writes Bilas, will Donovan have shown “he is no longer trying to play both sides of the fence.”
It’s fascinating how persons who’ve not had multiple parties compete for their services in their current profession are so very comfortable doling out the sage advice. No one can argue that Billy Donovan hasn’t suffered a credibility hit this week, but this is nowhere near as damaging to the Magic as losing Shaquille O’Neal. Or picking Franz Vazquez. If Orlando ends up with Stan Van Gundy, perhaps some of those new season ticket holders can be persuaded to stick around.
A few years back, Billy Beane had an agreement in principal to become the general manager of the Boston Red Sox. A few days later, Beane reneged on the deal, stayed in Oakland and Boston had to hire some Ivy League egghead, Theo Somebody. I wonder how that whole thing worked out for everyone?