LEXINGTON, Va. – Donny White has announced he will retire as Virginia Military Institute’s Director of Athletics effective Nov. 15.
White has been associated with VMI athletics for 35 years as a cadet-athlete, assistant and head coach, and chief athletic administrator. His 15-year tenure as athletic director is the second longest in Institute history, next to Blandy Clarkson (1926-1946). White’s leadership guided the Keydet athletic program through one of the most challenging periods of NCAA athletics.
White supervised ambitious capital improvements to athletic facilities, the development of women’s athletic programs, and the move of all sports conference affiliation, and he assisted with securing adequate funding for a growing athletic program during a period of fiscal constraint.
“Coach White understands the complex pressures that affect student-athletes competing at this level compounded by the demands and responsibility of being a cadet. VMI is not an easy college,” said Gen. J.H. Binford Peay ’62, Superintendent. “Under his leadership, every athlete is truly a cadet and every one of them is dedicated to winning the VMI way. We will miss his steady hand and direction.”
During White’s tenure, VMI was presented the Big South Sportsmanship Award an unprecedented six consecutive years. White’s basketball and baseball hires are now VMI’s all-time winning coaches in those sports. He guided VMI in the selection and building of seven women’s sports with only 160 women in the Corps. VMI now fields 18 intercollegiate sports that include nearly 30 percent of the Corps of 1,600 cadets.
Over the past decade, both the football and baseball programs have seen their facilities significantly upgraded with the additions of P. Wesley Foster Jr. ’56 Stadium and Gray-Minor Stadium. Additional athletic improvements continued with fields accessible for athletic use added to the North Post complex and other major projects in development.
“I have been blessed more than words can describe to have been associated with VMI most of my professional career,” said White. “I am proud of the quality and dedication of the men and women in the athletic department. The best part has always been the VMI cadets, and I will treasure those relationships always.”
Prior to taking the VMI athletic director post in May 1998, White compiled a distinguished VMI coaching career in two sports spanning 15 years. He joined the football staff in 1971 and helped lead the Keydets to two Southern Conference Championships and a State Championship. He coached the defensive backs to a No. 1 national ranking in pass defense in 1975. He served as VMI co-defensive coordinator from 1976 to 1980 and had the Southern Conference’s top-rated defense in 1977.
In the fall of 1981, White became VMI head baseball coach and in his first year was named Southern Conference Co-Coach of the Year. Over six years, White guided the program to conference and state competitiveness, playing in the SoCon championship game in 1987.
White is a 1965 graduate of VMI with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. As a cadet, he was a Distinguished Military Student and was awarded the VMI Intercollegiate Athletic Award his senior year. White co-captained the 1964 VMI football team and was selected All-Southern Conference in baseball for three consecutive years as a shortstop. He was inducted into the VMI Sports Hall of Fame in 1975.
After graduation from VMI, White was commissioned as a field artillery officer in the U.S. Army and served a tour of duty in Vietnam. His decorations include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters.
A national search for a successor will be conducted over the summer months with an announcement planned during the early fall.