FERRUM – Ferrum College mourns the loss of Coach Donna Doonan, who passed away Sunday, October 17, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, following a recent battle with colon cancer. Doonan was 67 years old. Doonan spent 29 seasons as women’s basketball coach at Ferrum, served as Senior Woman Administrator and coached four other sports. A pioneer in women’s athletics at Ferrum, Doonan joined the Panther coaching staff in the fall of 1976 after earning her bachelor’s degree at Lynchburg College that spring. Doonan later went on to earn her master’s degree from Lynchburg.
In her first year at Ferrum, Doonan coached women’s basketball, volleyball, tennis and softball. She would later coach the men’s tennis team. When the NCAA developed the title of Senior Woman Administrator, Doonan accepted that role, and held it until her retirement in May 2005. She also taught a number of courses during her tenure within the College’s Physical Education & Recreation Division.
“Donna Doonan was a champion for women’s athletics at Ferrum, in the state of Virginia and across the nation,” said Assistant Director of Athletics Gary Holden, who worked with Doonan 14 years at Ferrum and has known her for over 30 years. “As much success as she had in the playing arena, it’s overshadowed by her fierce support of not just female student-athletes, but all Ferrum College students. She was a mentor for so many young women here. We’ve lost a great friend and the world has lost a great leader.”
Doonan’s 1981-82 team won the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women’s State Basketball Tournament, and advanced to the round of 16 at the AIAW National Championships. Her 1994-95 team went on to win the Dixie Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (now the USA South Athletic Conference) Tournament, and earned an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III national championships. Her 2002-03 team earned a share of the Dixie regular season title.
In Doonan’s final season, 2004-05, Ferrum finished 15-12 overall and was runner-up in the USA South regular season standings with an 11-3 record against league opponents. She closed her career with a 335-348 career coaching record in 29 seasons, all at Ferrum. Doonan earned Dixie/USA South Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year honors twice, in 1996 and 2003.
Doonan coached six All-Americans at Ferrum, and her players earned 30 All-Conference honors, two Conference Players of the Year and two Conference Rookies of the Year. Her players earned 42 Academic All-Conference honors, and every one of her four-year letter-winners graduated from Ferrum. She was inducted into the Ferrum College Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.
Doonan served four years as a member of the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Committee from 1996-2000, serving as national chair in 2000. After retiring from coaching, she moved to South Florida, where she worked for the Horace Mann Insurance Company. In recent years, Doonan owned and operated Sunshine Teachers Insurance in Pompano Beach, Florida. She was a native of Wildwood, New Jersey.