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Schlabach: UK Will Offer Donovan $3.5 Million a Year

Well, the Donovan rumors have a bit more validation now.

ESPN's Mark Schlabach is reporting that UK will offer Donovan a seven-year contract for at least $2.8 million a year and as much as $3.5 million with incentives. This is $1 million more than the $2.5 mil that Schlabach says Florida was prepared to offer The Kid.

Mark Schlabach:

Kentucky officials are prepared to offer Florida coach Billy Donovan an annual raise of more than $1 million as part of a contract that would make him one of the highest-paid coaches in college basketball.

Sources close to the Kentucky search said the school is prepared to tender an offer to Donovan early next week, either after Florida is eliminated from this weekend's Final Four in the Georgia Dome, or after it plays for its second consecutive national championship.

The sources said Kentucky's starting point in the negotiations will be a seven-year contract that would pay Donovan at least $2.8 million per season and as much as $3.5 million with performance-based incentives.

The sources said Donovan, a former Kentucky assistant under Rick Pitino, is the Wildcats' top choice to replace Tubby Smith, who unexpectedly resigned last week to become Minnesota's coach.

Donovan has declined to discuss the Kentucky opening, but hasn't completely removed himself from the potential candidates to replace Smith. After this season, Donovan would have five years remaining on his contract with Florida, which pays him about $1.8 million per season.

"I don't even have my phone .. I don't talk to anybody," Donovan said at a news conference at the Final Four on Friday afternoon.

Donovan and his agents have been in negotiations with Florida athletics director Jeremy Foley for nearly a year. The two sides haven't yet reached a contract extension, but Florida was already prepared to pay Donovan at least $2.5 million per season before the Kentucky job opened, sources said.

Foley declined to discuss the Kentucky opening before the Gators practiced Friday at the Georgia Dome. Kentucky athletics department spokesman Scott Stricklin also declined comment when reached Friday.

"I'm not going to comment on the process until we have completed our search and found the right person to lead Kentucky basketball," Stricklin said.

People close to Donovan said he has received no contact from Kentucky officials, nor have his agents.

Kentucky officials have hired Parker Executive Search, an executive search firm in Atlanta, to conduct its coaching search. Dan Parker, president of the firm, was contracted by Minnesota to lure Smith to the Gophers, and Indiana used his firm to hire Kelvin Sampson from Oklahoma.

Dare we say it...done deal?