Legendary Dayton Flyers coach, Don “Mickey” Donoher, a College Basketball Hall of Famer, dies at 92

By Stretch Jenkinson


Don Donoher coaching the Flyers 1988-89 UD Media Guide (file photo)

Winningest Basketball Coach In Flyer History Was 92 Years Old


DAYTON – The University of Dayton is saddened to announce that former Flyer men’s basketball captain and head coach Don Donoher has died at the age of 92.

The all-time winningest coach in UD basketball history with 437 wins, Donoher is a member of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, the University of Dayton Athletic Hall of Fame, the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame, the Toledo Area High School Hall of Fame and the Toledo Central Catholic High School Hall of Fame.

After a standout career at Toledo Central Catholic High School, Donoher came to the University of Dayton in 1950.  He was a three-year letterwinner for the Flyers under coach Tom Blackburn, playing in three post-season tournaments.

As a sophomore, he was a member of the only University of Dayton team to play in the NIT and the NCAA tournaments in the same season.  Late in his junior season, he scored what proved to be the go-ahead basket in a 71-65 upset of then-No. 1-ranked Seton Hall.  Donoher came into his own as a senior captain, scoring 388 points of his 578 career points in 32 games (12.1 ppg.).  He helped lead Dayton back to the 1954 NIT.

After serving in the Army, Donoher returned to Dayton in 1957 and put his business degree to use by working for an office equipment sales company.  While he continued working his “day job,” Blackburn enlisted Donoher to be a scout for his alma mater.  He began his coaching career in 1961, serving as an assistant coach at Chaminade High School in downtown Dayton.

(courtesy Dayton Athletics)

Blackburn turned to Donoher again in February of 1963, bringing his former captain back to his alma mater as the University’s first full-time, basketball-only assistant coach.  Thirteen months later, Donoher was named UD’s head men’s basketball coach, succeeding his old coach when Blackburn succumbed to terminal lung cancer in March of 1964.

Donoher outdid his mentor in a 25-year coaching career.  His 437 wins surpassed Blackburn’s old record of 352 in 17 seasons.  He led Dayton to nine NCAA tournament appearances, and seven NIT appearances.  His teams reached the Sweet Sixteen five times and the Elite Eight twice.  The 1968 team won an NIT championship.

In 1967, UD advanced to the NCAA title game, falling to the first of the Lew Alcindor-led UCLA championship teams.  Donoher was the first coach to take his alma mater to the NCAA championship game after appearing in the tournament as a player.

One of the top coaches of his generation, Donoher was an assistant coach on the United States’ gold medal-winning team at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.  Well-respected and involved in the community, he was inducted into the Dayton Region Walk of Fame in 2016.

The combination of his basketball acumen and strength of character were recognized when he was the 2017 recipient of the USBWA’s Dean Smith Award.  Coaches selected for the award are recognized not  just for their success in basketball. They are chosen for their principles of honesty and integrity, for treating all people with courtesy and respect, for accomplishments off the court, and for the impact they have made on their community and the lives of their players.

Donoher also served as the University’s Director of Athletics from 1976 to 1980.

At the time of his death, he was the oldest living coach to have taken a team to the Final Four.




(courtesy Wikipedia Commons)