- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 12, 2011

GAINESVILLE, FLA. (AP) - Florida’s Billy Donovan says assistant Richard Pitino is leaving to become the head coach in waiting at Louisville.

Donovan says Pitino, son of Louisville’s Rick Pitino, will be named associate head coach for the Cardinals.

Rick Pitino declined comment on his son’s status.

Richard Pitino spent two years as an assistant under his father (2007-09). The elder Pitino has an opening after assistant Steve Masiello agreed to become head coach at Manhattan earlier this week.

Donovan says to “be the associate head coach and possibly the head coach at Louisville, is an incredible opportunity” for Richard Pitino.

Donovan says assistant Rob Lanier is also leaving and could “possibly be coach in waiting at Texas.” Longhorn officials say Lanier has only been offered an assistant position.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ Florida’s Billy Donovan turned to a pair of fired head coaches to revamp his staff.

Donovan hired former Arkansas coach John Pelphrey and former St. John’s coach Norm Roberts as assistants Tuesday. They replace associate head coach Larry Shyatt, who took the head job at Wyoming last month, and assistants Rob Lanier and Richard Pitino. Lanier and Pitino left this week for opportunities elsewhere.

Pelphrey, who served six years (1996-2002) as an assistant under Donovan, is returning to Gainesville after spending the past nine seasons at South Alabama (2002-07) and Arkansas (2007-11). He was fired last month after posting a 69-59 record with the Razorbacks.

“Having John back will be a great addition to our program,” Donovan said in a statement. “Obviously, he has a level of familiarity with me and with the University of Florida makes this a great fit. John’s a great coach, he’s a great friend and has a love for Florida, and we’re excited to bring him back.”

Roberts, a 1987 graduate of Queens College in New York City, spent six seasons at St. John’s before he was fired last year after losing to Memphis in the first round of the NIT. He was 81-101 and never made the NCAA tournament.

Roberts also served as an assistant under Kansas coach Bill Self at four different schools. He was associate head coach at Kansas (2003-04) and an assistant at Illinois (2000-03), Tulsa (1997-2000) and Oral Roberts (1995-97).

“Being from New York, I’ve known Norm for a long time,” Donovan said. “He’s an outstanding coach, he’s a great recruiter, has high character and integrity and I’m thrilled to have him on our staff here at Florida.”

Pelphrey and Donovan essentially grew up coaching together and have similar styles _ their teams run the floor, press often and shoot lots of 3-pointers.

Donovan was 23 years old when he became a graduate assistant at Kentucky under Rick Pitino in 1991. Pelphrey, meanwhile, was a senior captain with the Wildcats. Three years later, Donovan got the head coaching job at Marshall and asked Pelphrey to come along with him.

They won 35 games in two seasons at Marshall, then made the leap to Florida. Donovan was a young, fast-talking recruiting machine and Pelphrey was his right-hand man.

Together, they made basketball matter in Gainesville.

The Gators went 124-65 in six seasons and reached the NCAA championship game in 2000. Pelphrey and Donovan played hundreds of pickup basketball games together and numerous rounds of golf together, traveled thousands of miles together and shared more experiences together than they could have imagined.

They got so close that Pelphrey even named his daughter, Ann-Marie Grace Donovan, after his one-time coach and longtime mentor.

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