Glen Donahue, second winningest college basketball coach in Michigan history, dies at 85

Glen Donahue always viewed coaching college basketball as a “win-win” situation during the lengthy period of time he spent as the state of Michigan’s all-time leader in victories.

Mick McCabe’s 50 years at the Free Press: The best high school athletes he’s seen

UP NEXT

UP NEXT

But on Friday, the final buzzer sounded on his illustrious life, as he died peacefully at his Southfield home after suffering from dementia. He was 85.

Donahue, who now ranks second behind Rochester College’s Garth Pleasant (720 wins in 38 seasons) in all-time wins, held a career coaching record of 656-451 at the collegiate level. Oakland University’s Greg Kampe is third on the list with a 632-474 mark. 

Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

“With almost 60 years of coaching, there’s tons of wins and tons of great seasons, but the thing that is overwhelming is the relationships,” said his son Kevin Donahue, who played for his father at Highland Park Community College. “To a person, they all talk about the opportunities that they got, how much they learned and how they grew as people and how much ‘Coach’ influenced the course of their lives.”



a man wearing a suit and tie: Late Kirtland Community College coach Glen Donahue, who died Oct. 30, 2020, at his home in Southfield.


© Detroit Free Press archives
Late Kirtland Community College coach Glen Donahue, who died Oct. 30, 2020, at his home in Southfield.

At the collegiate level, Donahue’s best years came at Highland Park Community College where he spent 19 seasons and won 301 games.

His 1984-85 Highland Park team finished 40-2 and featured Vernon Carr (Michigan State), Lenith Cotton and Robert Alexander.

Highland Park started out that season with 38 straight wins and was ranked No. 1 in the country before losing at the buzzer in the NJCAA National Tournament to Moberly Area Community College (Mo.), which was led by NBA All-Star Mitch Richmond and coached by current Oregon coach Dana Altman.

Donahue also had head coaching stints at Kirtland and Schoolcraft community colleges, as well as St. Mary’s (winning 114 games) and Marygrove colleges.

Donahue also served as an assistant coach at Central Michigan University and at his alma mater, the University of Detroit (under Don Sicko), where he ran track and graduated in 1958.

“Glen meant a lot of things to a lot of people, and he certainly was one of those people to me,” said Denny Butcher, who coached a 28 high school seasons and played for Donahue at St. Mary’s College. “I was one of the first players that he coached for four years because he was a junior college coach for a very long time at Highland Park. The amount of experience I learned from him as a player was enormous. I spent five years with him (four as a player and one as an assistant coach) and he helped mold me and a lot of my thoughts for basketball. He was one of the best preparers of the game and practice planners.”

When his father Ray took a job at Miller Brewing, Donahue and his family moved from West Bend, Wisconsin, to Detroit for his senior year of high school. He attended St. Charles Borromeo and participated in football, basketball, baseball and track.

After graduating from University of Detroit (now Detroit Mercy) with a bachelor’s degree in business, Donahue got into teaching and coaching with his first stop under John Cullen at Detroit Benedictine.

He moved shortly after to Highland High School, where he coached JV football and was a basketball assistant under Eldon Rouse. (That Highland Park team featured a guard named Bobby Joe Hill, who helped lead Texas Western’s 1965 NCAA Championship upset of Kentucky.)

In addition to his college coaching, Donahue had stints as a varsity coach at Detroit’s St. Gabriel, Salesian and Cathedral high schools, as well at Redford Bishop Borgess, Dearborn Heights Annapolis and Westland Huron Valley Lutheran. He most recently served as an assistant at Detroit Collegiate Prep at Northwestern.

Donahue, who earned a master’s degree in physical educationfrom Eastern Michigan University, taught at Highland Park High and later served as chair of the physical education department at Highland Park CC.

Donahue received numerous awards during his career, most notably as an inductee into the Michigan Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan Hall of Fame in 1991.

“Glen was at every clinic,” BCAM Executive Director Dan Young said. “The MHSAA had asked us to run a legends clinic at the state finals. We did it at Jenison Fieldhouse and so I tried to reach out to as many Hall of Famers as I could and Glen came to every one of them. He always worked with the youngest kids and always wanted to do ball handling. Anything you asked he’d just show up and help.”

Known for his sly, dry and sarcastic Irish wit, Donahue wasn’t averse to telling a silly joke or pulling a prank — on his players, coaching staff or even family.

“I don’t know if I should tell this story, but he thought it was a good idea on St. Patrick’s Day to put green food coloring in my baby bottle,” Kevin recalled. “My mom screamed for three months to bleach the green food coloring out of the diapers. She’d say, ‘Dammit, Glen.’ ”

Donahue is survived by his five children: Kevin and Colleen Donahue, Kim (Nijhof), Tamara (Prevost) and Vickii (Scurti), along with seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his wife Carolyn and brother Arnold.

Visitation for Donahue is 1-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. Wednesday at Haley Funeral Directors om Southfield. Funeral services are pending Thursday. For more information, email [email protected]

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly listed the college basketball coach who ranks third all-time in wins in Michigan. Oakland Greg Kampe is third on the list. 

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Glen Donahue, second winningest college basketball coach in Michigan history, dies at 85

Continue Reading

Source Article