• Kurtis Tatkenhorst

May 31- Magic announce they hired Billy Donovan as their New Head Coach but it only Lasted Six Days

2007- On this date in Sports History, the Orlando Magic announced the hiring of Billy Donovan as their new head coach. The two sides agreed to a five year deal for $27.5 million. However, Billy Donovan, who was the head coach for the Florida Gators wasn’t the Magic’s head coach for long.

The Magic announced Donovan as the new head coach on May 31. On June 1, Coach Donovan arrived in Orlando for his introductory press conference. Later that day he went back to Gainesville for his farewell press conference as the coach at Florida. After the farewell, Coach Donovan was starting to have some second thoughts about taking the new job. He always wanted the challenge of coaching in the NBA, but perhaps Florida was just too hard to leave. Coach Donovan was at the University of Florida since 1996 and had some very successful seasons. He was just coming off of back to back NCAA National Championships in 2005 and 2006. So when Coach Donovan woke up on June 2nd, he believed that he made a mistake and wanted to return to Florida. That evening, the Magic came down to Gainesville to try to convince him to continue to become the Magic’s new coach. When Monday, June 4th came, Donovan hired a lawyer to get him out of his new contract with the Magic. On Wednesday, six days after the announcement of Donovan as the new Orlando Magic head coach, the two sides agreed on terms to release the coach out of his contract. Coach Donovan signed a no compete clause to not coach in the NBA for five years and the Magic let him out of his contract to return to Florida. This was the end of Billy Donovan’s wild six day tenure as head coach of the Orlando Magic.

Coach Donovan didn’t have a great year the following season at Florida. The team failed to make the NCAA Tournament and finished their season in the NIT Semifinals. They did get back to having good success as they made the Elite Eight in 2011, 2012, and 2013. They followed this up with a Final Four in 2014. After a 16-17 season in 2015, Coach Donovan decided to make the jump to the NBA again. This time it was with the Oklahoma City Thunder and he did not look back. With the Thunder, he led the team to multiple post season runs and remains the coach there today.

On June 7, exactly one week after they announced the hiring of Billy Donovan, the Orlando Magic announced that Stan Van Gundy was their new head coach. The Magic had a good team with Dwight Howard as their star player. In Van Gundy’s first season as the head coach, the team made it to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The following year, they went all the way to the 2009 NBA Finals before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers.

On this day in 2007, the Orlando Magic announced one of the best current college coaches as their new head coach. He was just coming off back to back NCAA Championships. Both sides signed the contract thinking they would work together for a long time. However, Billy Donovan’s tenure as the Magic’s head coach only lasted a wild six days.


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Sources:

Photo- Red Huber, the Orlando Sentinel

Katz, Andy. “Donovan, Magic Work out End of Fleeting Relationship.” ESPN, ESPN , 7 June 2007.

Staples, Andy. “Billy Donovan Leaves Florida for Thunder to Fulfill an Old Dream.” Sports Illustrated, 29 Apr. 2015





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