Billy Donlon is certainly not the first head coach to get fired this offseason, but so far it seems he is the most unlikely person to find himself without a job. Donlon was let go Wednesday by Wright State after six seasons as head coach, despite the Raiders’ second place Horizon League finish which saw them win 22 games on a run to the league tournament title game.
Donlon has been on the coaching staff at Wright State since 2006, when he followed new Raiders’ head coach Brad Brownell from UNC Wilmington and was named his associate head coach. He was the natural choice to replace Brownell in 2010 when he left for Clemson and during his tenure, Donlon’s Raiders went 109-93 and finished with a winning record in all but two seasons.
This past season was one of Donlon’s most successful, as his team bounced back from an 11-20 record the season before to finish 22-13 (13-5) and tied with Oakland for second in the league.
After the 2013 season, Donlon was named Horizon League Coach of the Year and led his team to the semifinals of the CBI. He was never able to reach the NCAA Tournament, something only two WSU head coaches have accomplished, but did reach the conference tournament title game in three of the last four seasons.
It will be interesting to see where Wright State goes from here. The lack of faith the administration has shown in its coaches may be a deterrent for some of the bigger coaching names on the market, especially after the relative success that the program had under Donlon.
As far as Donlon’s future goes, he is someone considered by many in the basketball world to be a young up-and-comer coaching prospect. With so many other jobs already opening up this spring – and more surely to come – it is hard to imagine Donlon won’t have his share of suitors.