On May 13, 2013, longtime VMI athletic director Donny White announced his impending retirement. White will retire from his post on Nov. 15 of this year.
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.
Over the past several years, 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. Those changes to Post continued over the past year, with fields accessible for athletic use added to the North Post complex and other projects in development.
Upon his appointment as athletic director in 1998, White immediately went to work addressing the challenging issues facing the VMI athletic department. At the same time, he has built support for intercollegiate athletics among the VMI community and its alumni. His effort has resulted in a change in conference affiliation, increased funding for operations, the development of women's athletics, and a better overall competitive environment for VMI sports.
2012-13 brought a first to the Institute, Big South Players of the Year in two sports. Rob Dickinson won the award for baseball after flirting with the .400 mark for much of the season, and Stan Okoye captured the honor for basketball.
2011-12 brought a new sport to VMI under White’s leadership, as head coach Anna Phelps mentored the first season of Keydet women’s water polo. Felix Kitur qualified for his fourth NCAA Championship to cap a stellar career, and two Keydets from both lacrosse (Stephen Robarge and Keith Long) and baseball (Coby Cowgill and Adam Lopez) were drafted by professional teams.
2010-11's VMI year under White saw both Josh Wine (wrestling) and Kitur qualified for the NCAA Championships in their respective sports, with both doing so for the third time. Basketball made a thrilling late season run, winning its final five regular season conference games to earn a home post-season contest for the second time in three years (a game VMI would win, 78-73), helped by VaSID Rookie of the Year D.J. Covington. Baseball hosted the Big South Championship for the first time, and saw senior SS Sam Roberts drafted by the Oakland A's. The Keydets also hosted the Big South Outdoor Track Championships, a meet that saw Kitur earn Most Outstanding Track Performer honors, while Mary Grace Lemon was named the conference Women's Freshman of the Year. Women's cross country continued to develop into a perennial conference contender, finishing third at the Big South meet, while lacrosse's Robarge was the NCAA's face-off champion and led the nation in ground balls per game as well.
The 2009-10 athletic season was yet another successful campaign under White’s leadership. The Keydet baseball team defeated No. 1 Virginia, 12-3, at Gray-Minor Stadium and garnered its highest-ever ranking in a national poll at 26th. The women’s cross country team netted its highest-ever finish at the Big South Championships, while the Institute also added another women’s offering in water polo. Finally, the department earned its unprecedented fifth-straight Big South Sportsmanship Award.
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. White coached the defensive backs to a number one national ranking in 1975 and a number four ranking the following season. He served as VMI co-defensive coordinator from 1976 to 1981 and had the Southern Conference's top-ranked defense in 1977. His defensive backfields led the conference in pass defense three times. White also recruited seven football players who were selected
In the fall of 1981, White became VMI head baseball coach and began to resurrect a program that had not won a Southern Conference game the three previous years. His 1982 debut squad compiled six league wins and White was named Southern Conference Co-Coach of the Year. His teams won 85 games in six years and his 1987 squad reached the Southern Conference championship game. While serving as baseball coach, White also taught on the Physical Education staff as an assistant professor.
White is a 1965 graduate of VMI with a B.S. degree in civil engineering. As a cadet, he was a Distinguished Military Student, named Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities, and was awarded the VMI Intercollegiate Athletic Award for excellence. White co-captained the 1964 VMI football team and was selected All-Southern Conference in baseball for three consecutive years as a shortstop while also leading the team in batting. 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.
White and his wife, Bettie, have four children, Kyle, Katherine, Shannon and Bryan.