University Of Dayton Flyers

‘Incredible career;’ Community reflects on Flyers basketball coach Don Donoher’s lasting legacy

DAYTON — The University of Dayton community is remembering the legacy former men’s basketball captain and head coach Don Donoher left behind.

On Friday, April 12, the university announced that Dohoner passed away at 92 years old.

>>PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Don Donoher, winningest basketball coach in UD history, dies at 92

For decades, Dohoner was known to help people on and off the court.

“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,” UD Director of Athletics Neil Sullivan said in a social media post.

Many of those who had a chance to learn from him still use what he taught.

“He led me to my faith,” WHIO Radio Morning Show Host and voice of the Dayton Flyers Larry Hansgen said.

Hansgen has been the voice of the Flyers since 1982, and he credits Donoher for seeing something in him when he was younger.

“He could have been so dismissive of me, but instead, you know, he reached out to me and said, ‘What can I do to help? What can I do to help you get ready?’” Hansgen said. “I never played a minute for him, but he was my coach.”

Dohoner became the Flyers Head Men’s Basketball Coach in 1964.

>>PHOTOS: Don Donoher through the years

During his time as a coach at UD, Donoher led the Flyers to a record-setting 437 wins. He also led the Flyers to nine NCAA tournament appearances and seven NIT appearances, winning the NIT championship in 1968. His teams reached the Sweet Sixteen five times, the Elite Eight twice, and the NCAA championship once.

“He was an idol, especially for my generation,” Oakwood resident Polly Perkins said.

Perkins said she grew up around the Donoher family. She remembers the legendary Elite 8 run of 1984.

“It brought everybody together because everybody was there for one thing, and it was for UD to win,” Perkins said.

But, the historic 1984 season didn’t start as it finished.

Hansgen remembers when his colleague, Bucky Bachorn poked fun at Dohoner. Some say this tough love lit a fire underneath Dohoner and it helped him turn the season around.

“They’re seven and seven, and they’re going to get their butts kicked by Temple tomorrow, and he’s going to get fired,” Hansgen said.

The Flyers beat Temple, and soon after beat DePaul with a game-winning basket.

This turnaround restored belief in Flyer fans’ hearts.

“They’re the darlings of the NCAA tournament and that was a really special year. An incredible career that coach had,” Hansgen said.

Donoher is the all-time winningest coach in UD basketball history, with a record of 437. He is also a member of multiple halls of fame.

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Now, fans are looking for more historic seasons.

“With Anthony Grant following and Don Donoher’s footsteps. I think he can make it happen,” Perkins said.

In a statement posted to social media, current Flyers head coach Anthony Grant honored Donoher.

“I am eternally grateful for Coach Donoher’s impact on my life over the past 40+ 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!” Grant wrote.

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