A back arrow

All Articles

More than a great coach

More than a great coach

Thomas M. Columbus June 16, 2024

Don Donoher ’54 died April 12. 

He won respect as a player, a coach and a human being. 

Don Donoher, 1934 – 2024

As a player, he won three basketball letters and went to three post-seasons under coach Tom Blackburn. Donoher’s senior year, he captained the Flyers. 

He served in the Army, had a brief stint in sales and was an assistant basketball coach at Dayton’s Chaminade High School. In 1963 Blackburn brought Donoher back to UD as the school’s first full-time, basketball-only men’s assistant coach. Barely a year later Blackburn died of cancer. Donoher became head coach of the University of Dayton Flyers. 

He coached the Flyers to 437 wins during 25 years, eclipsing Blackburn’s record of 352. Nine times he led Dayton to the NCAA tournament, seven times to the NIT, winning the 1968 title. He reached the Sweet 16 five times, the Elite Eight twice and the finals once. 

He was honored locally and nationally. He was inducted into the Dayton Region Walk of Fame in 2016. In 2017, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association awarded him the Dean Smith Award, given not just for success in basketball but also for character and accomplishments off the court. 

Among the tributes to him:

“He was all class, all the time.” — John Feinstein, Washington Post columnist 

“He was a man of character, integrity, leadership and also one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time.” — Kevin Conrad ’83, former player

“Don Donoher was a basketball legend … and one of the nicest, kindest people I’ve even known.” — Jay Bilas, ESPN analyst 

“A man I admired. A coach second to none. A gentleman in every way.” —Mark Adams, ESPN analyst 

“I am eternally grateful for Coach Donoher’s impact on my life. I’m grateful for the life he lived, the lives he touched and the legacy he leaves. Thank you, Coach! I love you! Rest in peace. Great game!” —Anthony Grant ’87, UD men’s basketball head coach