Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bill Donovan, the Basketball coach will swim with Great White sharks

No one has ever questioned if Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan can swim with the sharks in the brutal world of college hoops.

Now he's going to take a dip with the real thing.

Donovan's wife, Christine, organized a trip to South Africa where only a cage will separate the UF coach from great white sharks for several days during feedings.

"My youngest boy (Bryan, 12) loves sharks and we had talked a bunch about going to South Africa and getting in the cage with white sharks," Donovan said while attending the Southeastern Conference's spring meetings. "My wife said, 'I'm tired of all the talk. All you guys talk, but you don't do anything.' And she got on my calendar and she said, 'You're free for these days.' And she booked the whole trip."

Donovan, along with Bryan, Donovan's mother and a friend from Lexington, Ky., and his daughter, are taking the trip.

"We're leaving (today), it's an 18-hour flight," Donovan said. "We'll be in Cape Town for four days, and then we're going to Kruger National Park for four days."

Donovan and his son will go under water in cages, for protection from the sharks.

"I've never, ever scuba-dived," he said. "I think they give you a snorkel mask and the cage is like three-quarters of the way submerged. And then, four straight days we're going to watch them breach, jump out of the water. I got a great e-mail from the lady doing the trip and she said there's a lot of shark activity right now. I'm excited about it, I really am."

He said Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley wanted some assurances.

"Jeremy Foley wanted to know that there would be no hands or limbs or anything else out of the cage while this is going on," Donovan said with a sheepish grin. "Yeah, that's what he told me. He said he needs some type of insurance policy there will not be any limbs outside the cage."

While Donovan was in Sandestin, however, Christine was dealing with another headache. Donovan found out Monday his passport had expired and she was scheduled to drive to Miami on Wednesday to pick up a replacement.

"My name is not real big at home right now," Billy Donovan confessed of the passport blunder.

Why take the trip now?

"The guy from Lexington that we're going with, his wife passed away four months ago with brain cancer," Donovan said. "She was my wife's best friend. My wife was like, you know what? Money, time, nothing can take the place of you and your son doing this experience-wise. And I'm not a great organizer. . . . She did the whole thing. (Bryan is) really, really excited and it's going to be a great time. He's really pumped up about this."

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