Former NCAA administrator Sue Donohoe died Sunday after a brief illness, the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame announced. She was 61.
Donohoe was a longtime board member of the Hall of Fame and a Class of 2021 inductee. The Hall of Fame did not detail what caused her death but said it wasn’t related to COVID-19.
Donohoe, a longtime board member of the Hall of Fame, was to be inducted this past summer with the Class of 2020 as a contributor to the game, but the ceremony was postponed until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are deeply saddened at the loss of our friend, mentor and vital member of the women’s basketball community,” said Dana Hart, president of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. “Sue’s love of basketball and her attention to detail, hard work and administrative excellence will forever be remembered.”
Donohoe joined the NCAA in 1999 as the director of the women’s basketball championship and stepped down in 2011. During her NCAA tenure, she was a director of both the men’s and women’s basketball championships.
“Sue Donohoe spent her life working to grow and support the game of women’s basketball starting with her time as a college athlete and continuing on through her work as a coach, campus and conference office administrator, and leadership at the national office,” NCAA senior vice president Lynn Holzman said in a statement. “She has had an enduring impact in supporting college athletes and women in sports. We are devastated by the loss of a titan in our game and we extend our sincerest condolences to her family and loved ones.”
As vice president of women’s basketball from 2003-2011, she watched the sport grow in ways she could only have imagined when she was starting her coaching career as a graduate assistant at Louisiana Tech.
She was with the program when it won the first NCAA women’s basketball championship in 1982.
Donohoe was instrumental in trying to demystify the selection process for the NCAA Tournament by inviting coaches and media to take part in a mock bracket exercise. The group acted as if it were the NCAA women’s basketball selection committee, using the same data, procedures and rules as the real committee.
That helped generate a greater appreciation for the process and the work that the committee does.
“We just treat people with honesty,” Donohoe told the AP in 2011. “We understand folks may not agree with decisions that the committee makes or I make, but by opening up the process hopefully people got a better understanding of how things worked.”
After leaving the NCAA, Donohoe became the executive director of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund until her retirement in 2015.
Before joining the NCAA, Donohoe served as the assistant and later associate commissioner of the Southland Conference. She moved to the Southland in 1998 after holding the position of associate director of athletics at Arkansas, where she was previously an assistant women’s basketball coach under Gary Blair. She also was an assistant women’s coach at Stephen F. Austin.
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