Sports briefs: Florida's Billy Donovan offers no guarantees on staying put

May 28, 2014 

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Florida coach Billy Donovan watched the action during the second half of the NCAA Final Four semi-finals Saturday April 5, 2014 at AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX. Photo by Charles Bertram | Staff

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Florida Coach Billy Donovan won't guarantee he will be back next season. It's not because he doesn't want to make that promise. It's because he doesn't want to break it.

Donovan reiterated at the Southeastern Conference's annual spring meetings Tuesday that he's committed to the Gators, but he left open the possibility of jumping to the NBA.

Donovan said last week he has been in contact with "several" NBA teams about head-coaching jobs. He declined again to say which teams, but reports said the Cleveland Cavaliers have shown interest.

"I think when you start making guarantees about life and start making guarantees about where you're going to be, that's not good because if for some reason I ever change my mind and did something, I wouldn't want (people) saying, 'Well, he promised, he guaranteed, he said this on record,'" Donovan said. "I just think when you start doing that, that's a mistake."

Donovan left Florida briefly in 2007, agreeing to become coach of the NBA's Orlando Magic. He changed his mind a few days later, returned to Gainesville and has been there since. He just finished his 18th season at Florida, where he has guided the Gators to two national championships and four Final Four appearances.

He signed a three-year contract extension in February that raised his average salary to $3.7 million over the final six years of the deal, which runs through the 2018-19 season. But he raised eyebrows a month later by saying he's still intrigued by the NBA.

Horse racing

Intense Holiday, 12th in Derby, retired

Intense Holiday was retired after undergoing surgery Monday for a condylar fracture to his right front leg he suffered after a 5-furlong workout at Belmont Park on Sunday.

"This injury was more frustrating than most because, after a disappointing (12th-place) finish in the Kentucky Derby, Intense Holiday underwent a thorough veterinary exam, including nuclear scintigraphy and digital X-rays," Dr. Foster Northrop, the primary veterinarian for Starlight Racing, said in a release. "All of his results came back clean and he was shipped to Belmont Park where, by all accounts, he had been training very well."

Starlight Racing co-managing partner Jack Wolf watched him train the morning that the injury occurred.

"You never get used to this stuff," Wolf said. "It's disappointing, but the horse did not seem to be in much distress right after the injury and we're happy that they were able to repair the injury to the extent that they could. He's a good horse ... who has provided us with some thrilling finishes. But whether they're worth $5,000 or $5 million, this is always a bitter pill to swallow."

Stud plans for Intense Holiday's future were not yet finalized.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Intense Holiday won the Grade II Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds on Feb. 22 to stamp himself as a contender for the Kentucky Derby. The son of Harlan's Holiday also finished second in the Grade II Louisiana Derby.

Golf

Longtime Morehead coach Chaney retires

Dr. Rex Chaney, who has been associated with Morehead State since 1953, announced his retirement. Chaney, who previously coached the Eagles in men's basketball and baseball, had spent the past 38 years as the school's men's golf coach.

"Rex is already a Hall of Famer and will always be an Eagle," Brian Hutchinson, Morehead's athletics director, said. "He has meant so much to thousands of people over the years."

Chaney led the Eagles to Ohio Valley Conference golf titles in 1977, 1981, 1993 and 1999. He spent seven years as baseball coach, when the team was 111-56, and four as an assistant men's basketball coach. Chaney was inducted into Morehead State's Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000.

■ Alabama will attempt to defend its NCAA men's golf championship when it faces Oklahoma State in the final match of the team competition at Prairie Dunes in Hutchinson, Kan. The second-seeded Crimson Tide beat SMU in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, and then rolled to a 4-1 victory over LSU in the semifinals. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State topped Georgia Tech to reach the semifinals, where the Cowboys upset top-seeded Stanford 3-2 to reach the championship.

Auto racing

Stewart back in sprint car for test session

Tony Stewart has driven a sprint car again, roughly 10 months after the accident that sidelined the three-time NASCAR champion with a broken leg. Stewart posted several pictures to his new Twitter account of a car he drove Monday. It's not clear where the test session occurred.

Stewart broke his leg in a crash in a sprint car race in Iowa last August that sidelined him until February preparations for NASCAR's season-opening Daytona 500.

Stewart said on Twitter that driving the car again "was a huge day for me." In reply to a fan, he acknowledges that he indeed had butterflies, "but it felt like an old pair of shoes."

Etc.

Henderson Co. standout gets Gatorade award

Henderson County senior Kaleb Duckworth was named Gatorade's Kentucky high school baseball player of the year. Duckworth, an infielder/outfielder who has signed with Western Kentucky, was batting almost .450 with seven homers, 40 runs and 35 RBI going into postseason play. Duckworth led Henderson County to the state tournament semifinals last year, and to a state runner-up finish to Woodford County in 2012.

Max White's ninth-inning, one-out grounder to second scored Jose Briceno from third for the winning run in the Asheville Tourists' come-from-behind 10-9 victory over the visiting Lexington Legends on Tuesday night. Lexington led 9-8 going to the bottom of the ninth before Jordan Patterson's home run tied it up and Briceno followed that with a triple.

Former Pleasure Ridge Park standout and 2002 Little League World Series winner Zach Osborne was 4-for-5 for the Tourists. The 24-year-old shortstop improved his batting average to .294.

■ The Lindsey Wilson softball team's season ended with a 4-0 loss to Oklahoma City in the elimination bracket of the NAIA Softball World Series in Columbus, Ga. Oklahoma City used a three-run sixth inning to break a scoreless tie and added an insurance run in the seventh en route to the win over the Blue Raiders (50-11). It was just the second time this season that Lindsey Wilson had been shut out.

Arin Gilliland, a two-time women's soccer All-American at Kentucky, was called back to the United States Women's National Team U23 training camp. The second training camp of the 2014 calendar season will be June 7-14 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. Gilliland, a West Jessamine graduate, scored a career-high 12 goals and assisted on 10 others this past season.

■ Lexington's Thomas "Rocky" Kinchen won the 145-pound weight class in a regional boxing tournament last weekend at Lima, Ohio. Kinchen edged Antonio Davis of Cincinnati 2-1.

Kinchen is trained by William "Sarge" Farris and fights out of the Legends Boxing Club on Versailles Road.

The last word

NASCAR driver Kurt Busch, honored Monday evening as the Indianapolis 500's Rookie of the Year, had this to say about his first IndyCar race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

"I've been to 15 Daytona 500s, that many Brickyard 400s, but the Indy 500 will blow you away. ... This, I was a whole-hearted rookie."

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