Remembering Don Donoher: Legendary Dayton coach ‘touched countless lives’

UD’s winningest men’s basketball coach dies at 92

College basketball is always changing. The transfer portal and the name, image and likeness era have reshaped the current game.

In Don Donoher’s 25 seasons as head coach of the Dayton Flyers men’s basketball team, he saw the legalization of the dunk and the introduction of the 3-pointer, not to mention the explosion in popularity of the NCAA tournament.

Donoher, who died on Friday at 92, guided the program through trying times but put it on the solid footing that has kept it a consistent winner ranked among the national attendance leaders for decades. He led the Flyers to the NCAA championship game in 1967 and won more games than any men’s basketball coach in Dayton history with a record of 437-275 from 1964-89. He is remembered just as well for his integrity and class.

Here’s what people had to say Friday and Saturday on social media about the hall of fame coach after his passing:

Anthony Grant, Donoher’s former player and current UD coach: “My family and I extend our condolences to Brian, Paul, Maureen and the entire Donoher Family. I am eternally grateful for Coach Donoher’s impact on my life over the past 40-plus years. 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!”

Neil Sullivan, Dayton Vice-President and Director of Athletics: “All of us who care about the University of Dayton and Flyer basketball are mourning the loss of Don Donoher. From the moment he set foot on campus more than 70 years ago until now, he was 100% a Flyer. It would be hard to find someone as respected on campus, in the community and in college athletics. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family.”

Eric F. Spina, University of Dayton President: “My heart goes out to the Donoher family. Coach Donoher is not just a Dayton basketball legend, but a University of Dayton legend. He touched countless lives on and off the court and made an indelible imprint on the Flyer Faithful. There will never be another one like him, and we will miss him.”

Kevin Conrad, former Dayton guard: “RIP Coach. ... Such a privilege to play for Coach Donoher. He was a man of great character, integrity, leadership and also one of the greatest basketball coaches of all-time. UD IS THE UNIVERSITY OF DONOHER.”

Steve Pittman, former Dayton forward: “His impact on the lives of our flyer family was incredible, he is the biggest reason why I wanted to be a coach. I just wanted to follow in his footsteps. And make him proud.”

Larry Hansgen, voice of the Flyers on WHIO Radio: “I never played a minute for him, but he was my coach. He helped lead me to my faith and helped make me the man I am today. Oh, and I learned a little bit about basketball. Thanks, Mick. You can now RIP with Sonia and Gary.”

Archie Miller, former Dayton coach and current Rhode Island coach: “Don Donoher was one of the great people I’ve ever come across. Always so supportive, caring and loyal to Dayton Community, University, and Basketball Program. A True legend in every way possible. My family and I send our thoughts and prayers to the Donoher Family. RIP Coach.”

Jay Bilas, ESPN analyst: “Don Donoher was a basketball legend. He played and coached at Dayton and was one of the nicest, kindest people I’ve ever known. I always viewed Coach Donoher as the Arnold Palmer of basketball ... a great competitor AND an authentically kind and generous human being. RIP Coach Donoher.”

Toni DeVelin, Dayton fan: “Legendary. That word doesn’t fit everyone. It fits a Dayton player who became a Dayton coach, who mentored another Dayton coach. An Olympic assistant coach. A Hall of Fame coach. A coach who will always hold a special place in UD history. Fly high, Coach Don Donoher.”

Mark Adams, ESPN analyst: “A man I admired. A coach second to none. A gentleman in every way. A role model who inspired me to become a coach. Thank you Coach Donoher. Rest in peace and now God will richly bless you.”

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