Former Old Dominion Great, Anne Donovan, Dies at 56
NORFOLK, Va. - Old Dominion University Hall of Famer Anne Donovan died Wednesday, June 13. She was 56.
“Anne was a great ambassador for what intercollegiate athletics is all about. She was an outstanding scholar as a student, a terrific performer and teammate, plus a caring and engaged member of her community,” ODU President John R. Broderick said. “She was respected and loved by everyone whose path crossed hers at Old Dominion. Our condolences go out to her family and many friends.”
Donovan was recognized by virtually every post season and All-American squad in the nation during her ODU career, earning Kodak All-American honors for three years and Academic All-American honors for two straight seasons. Her honors culminated in 1983 with her naming as the Naismith Trophy winner as the national Player of the Year as selected by coaches and awarded an NCAA post-graduate scholarship for her academic achievements. Anne completed her four years at ODU with a 3.5 cumulative average in her major of leisure studies and became the all-time leading scorer and rebounder in ODU history with 2,719 points and 1,976 rebounds. She is still the NCAA's all-time shot blocker with 801.
“We are deeply saddened to have lost one of the all-time greats to ever play the game of women’s basketball. Anne was a national champion, Olympic gold medal winner as both a player and a coach, and a national champion as a professional head coach. Few have or ever will enjoy the type of success Anne has experienced throughout her career,” ODU Director of Athletics Dr. Wood Selig said. “She was a role model student-athlete at ODU. Throughout her college and professional career Anne was one of ODU’s best ambassadors both for the institution and Lady Monarch basketball. Anne’s legacy will be permanent and ever lasting and will forever remain as the foundation upon which the Lady Monarch brand became national and synonymous with success.”
Donovan graced the sport of women's basketball at Old Dominion University from 1979 to 1983, helping to lead the Lady Monarchs to a national championship in 1980 and two more "Final Four" appearances during her four years.
“My heart aches for the loss of Lady Monarch legend and Hall of Famer, Anne Donovan. An exceptional player, coach and even better person, her legacy will be remembered for years to come,” ODU Women’s Basketball head coach Nikki McCray said. “I am thankful to have known her and now to coach at her alma mater. Rest in peace, coach.”
In 2008, as the USA Olympic Head Coach, Donovan led the squad to gold medal, making her the first player turned head coach to win gold as both.
A native of Ridgewood, New Jersey, Anne was one of the most highly recruited high school players in the nation. A graduate of Paramus Catholic, the 6-8 center earned Parade Player-of-the-Year honors in 1979 before signing with ODU.
“She was the total package. An All-American basketball player was just the start,” Former ODU Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Relations Debbie White said. “She was always willing to give of her time to anyone who asked. She will be missed.”
As an ambassador for her sport, Anne achieved international notoriety as a member of the gold medal United States basketball team in the 1984 Olympics and she continued to play with the national team through the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea.
Anne returned to her alma mater in 1987 as a part-time assistant basketball coach, following five years of competition in Japan. She was later elevated to full time assistant and remained at Old Dominion until 1997. Donovan was also a head coach at East Carolina University, where she guide the Lady Pirates to the 1997 CAA finals, the Philadelphia Rage of the ABL, interim head coach with the Indiana Fever of the WNBA and in 2001 became the head coach of the Charlotte Sting of the WNBA.
In 2001, she led the Sting to the WNBA finals and in 2002 won the WNBA Eastern Conference. In 2003, Donovan moved west to Seattle as its head coach, leading the Storm to the WNBA title in 2004. She also coached in the WNBA for New York and Connecticut, as well as the head coach at Seton Hall for four years.
Calling upon a coach who has been entrenched in USA Basketball for nearly three decades, USA Basketball announced on Jan. 12, 2006 that Donovan would serve as the head coach of the USA Basketball Women's Senior national team for 2006-08. She served as an assistant coach for team USA during its gold medal wins in 1998, 2002 and 2004.
On Sept. 30, 2007, USA basketball, coached by Donovan defeated Cuba, 101-71 to qualify for the 2008 games in Beijing, China.
Donovan is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame (1995), the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame (1999), the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame (1996), the ODU Sports Hall of Fame(1988) and the GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-American Hall of Fame (1994). In October of 2009 she was inducted into the Hampton Roads Sports Hall of Fame.
On Oct. 24, 2004, she was named by the Sun Belt Conference as its All-Time Women's Basketball Player. On Jan. 13, 2008, Anne was awarded the NCAA 25-year Award in Nashville, TN. On Dec. 13, 2008 Anne was presented with an honorary Doctorate's degree from Old Dominion University. In 2010 she was be inducted in the Hampton Roads Sports Hall of Fame.
You can watch an ESPN tribute, by clicking here.