Oklahoma City, OK (SportsNetwork.com) - Billy Donovan has decided to leave the University of Florida to become the new head coach for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Terms were not disclosed, but Yahoo! Sports has reported it to be a five-year contract.
Donovan will replace Scott Brooks, who was fired last week after a seven-year run that included three visits to the Western Conference finals and a 2012 trip to the NBA Finals.
"When we began the process of identifying the next head coach of the Thunder, we started with a vision and the identifiable qualities that we felt were necessary for our organization as well as the ever evolving role of the head coach in today's NBA," said Thunder general manager Sam Presti in a statement Thursday. "While we created a comprehensive analysis regarding the qualities we were looking for, it became quite evident that Billy was the ideal fit for the Thunder as we look to transition our team into the future."
Donovan spent 19 seasons at Florida, guiding the Gators to a record of 467-186 with back-to-back national championships in 2006 and 2007. This year's squad finished 16-17, marking his first losing season since his second year with the Gators in 1997-98.
This will be Donovan's first foray into the NBA, although he nearly made the move eight years ago.
In June 2007, Donovan agreed to become the head coach of the Orlando Magic. He backed out a few days after signing a five-year deal and went back to Florida.
"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," said Donovan. "The Thunder represents so many of the values that I embrace as a head coach; the commitment to the team above oneself, the dedicated pursuit of excellence, the commitment to organizational culture, the identity they have established and the fact that the Thunder and the community are so intricately woven into the fabric of one another. To have the ability to work with such a talented and high character group of players is also rare, and I am excited to forge ahead creating those relationships."
Donovan, 49, played one season in the NBA, averaging 2.4 points in 44 games during the 1987-88 season with the New York Knicks. He entered the coaching ranks in 1989 as a graduate assistant under his former Providence head coach, Rick Pitino, at Kentucky.
Following five years with the Wildcats, Donovan became the head coach at Marshall in 1994 and spent two seasons with the Thundering Herd before moving on to Florida.
In 21 seasons as a collegiate head coach, Donovan has a record of 502-206 with 14 NCAA Tournament appearances and four visits to the Final Four. In addition to his two national championships, the Gators also reached the Final Four in 2000 and 2014.
"Billy has achieved an incredible level of success and experience within his 21 years as a head coach and has shown the unique ability to not only create but sustain an elite program," Presti added. "Billy's core values and alignment with our culture and community, as well as his proven tactical abilities, make him an ideal addition to the Thunder organization."
During his tenure at Florida, Donovan led the program to 16 straight 20-win seasons, three 30-win seasons, 17 consecutive trips to the postseason and six SEC championships.
"It is of course bittersweet as the University of Florida will always hold a very special place in my heart and in my family's," Donovan said. "I've had the good fortune of working with the best athletic director in the country in Jeremy Foley over the last 19 years, and I'll be forever grateful and thankful for the opportunity and his friendship."
The Thunder made a coaching change after missing the playoffs on the final day of an injury-ravaged season. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant were both sidelined to start the campaign and Durant also missed most of the last two months because of a foot injury.