NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Southern Connecticut State University men’s basketball coach Michael Donnelly announced his resignation in order to accept the same position at Florida Southern College.
Donnelly spent the last five years on the Owls’ sidelines and was the architect behind the resurgence of the proud program. SCSU won just a total of four games in the two seasons prior to his arrival. After taking over in May, 2010, the Owls posted an overall record of 97-48 (.669) and made consecutive trips to the Sweet 16 over the last two years, including a spot in the Elite Eight during a program-record 30-3 campaign in 2013-14.
“I am eternally grateful for the opportunity that was provided to lead the Southern Connecticut State University men’s basketball program for the last five years,” Donnelly said. “As a team, we enjoyed tremendous success on the basketball court, in the classroom, and in the community over that time.
“I want to thank our student-athletes and assistant coach Mike Makubika for their commitment to ensuring the highest standards in all facets. Finally, I want to thank the athletic and university administration for their ongoing support of the program. I will always look back fondly on my time as the head men’s basketball coach at SCSU.”
“Mike has left an indelible mark on our men’s basketball program over the last five years,” said Owls’ Director of Athletics Jay Moran. “He reestablished Southern Connecticut as a basketball force on the conference, regional and national stages. In addition, his program and its student-athletes also maintained high academic standards and served as outstanding ambassadors for the university with their outreach efforts in the community. On behalf of the entire SCSU family, I wish Mike and his family all the best in their next chapter at Florida Southern.”
“We will begin the process this afternoon to find the successor for Coach Donnelly. I’m confident that we will attract a quality coach who will maintain our commitment to excellence on the court, in the classroom and in the community.”
The 2014 NABC Regional and Northeast-10 Conference Coach of the Year, Donnelly most recently led the Owls to a 24-8 record and a Sweet 16 appearance in 2014-15. Southern Connecticut also captured the Northeast-10 Conference Southwest Division title for the second year in a row and brought its win total to 54 victories over the last two seasons – also a program single-season record. SCSU was ranked as high as No. 2 nationally in the NABC poll in 2014-15, another program first.
The 2013-14 season was the finest in school history. SCSU established a school single-season record with 30 victories en route to a 30-3 mark. Along the way, the Owls claimed the NE-10 Southwest Division regular season title and the NE-10 Tournament title with a thrilling last second victory over rival New Haven. Southern’s run through the regional included three dramatic victories at Moore Field House onto the Elite Eight before a loss to the eventual national champion, Central Missouri.
Consistent improvement and new achievements were a hallmark of Donnelly’s tenure in New Haven. He guided the Owls to a 12-win season in his first year, 2010-11, a 10-win improvement over the year prior. SCSU also qualified for the NE-10 Tournament for the first time in nine years.
The following season, SCSU continued to progress, as a 14-13 campaign was the team’s first winning mark in nine years. In 2012-13, the Owls went 17-10 and just missed out on an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Donnelly’s squad also excelled academically over the last five years. The Owls totaled 29 selections to the NE-10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll during that stretch. Tylon Smith was also twice named an Academic All-American by Capital One and CoSIDA.
Community outreach also became a staple of the Owls’ program. Donnelly and his team were involved with numerous volunteer efforts, highlighted by academic work at New Haven and Hamden Public Schools, the annual “Hoops for Hunger” clinic to benefit area residents and a partnership with the TEAM IMPACT program.
Donnelly took over at SCSU after seven years as head coach at fellow Division II member Post University. While with the Eagles, his teams made six Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament appearances and three trips to the ECAC Tournament. He was named CACC Coach of the Year in 2007 and departed as the school’s all-time leader in wins.
He will bring a career record of 195-150 (.565) to the FSC program, which won the NCAA Division II title this season.