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Duncan, Donnie

Published onJul 30, 2021
Duncan, Donnie

(August 28, 1940 - March 12, 2016)

Quick Facts

A former Iowa State coach, Duncan was instrumental in the formation of the Big 12 Conference.


Source: Football Foundation,

Donnie Duncan is a native of Greenville, Texas. After graduating from Greenville High School, he attended Austin College in Sherman, Texas, where he received his bachelor's and master's degrees. Donnie lettered four years in football and baseball while an undergraduate at Austin College. At Austin College in 1961, he was football team captain, the Most Valuable Player, and received All-Texas College honors. Donnie was inducted into the Austin College Athletic Hall of Honor in 1971; received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1998; and, received the Coach Joe Spencer Award for Meritorious Service and Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004.

Donnie began his coaching career at the high school level in Texas and later moved on to the junior college ranks to Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas. Under Donnie's leadership his teams gained national rankings. In 1973, Donnie moved to the University of Oklahoma as an assistant football coach, a position he held until he was named head football coach at Iowa State University in 1979. During his tenure at the University of Oklahoma the Sooners won over 90 percent of their games, including two consecutive National Championships and six Big 8 crowns prior to his departure for Iowa State. At Iowa State, he guided the Cyclones for four seasons with two records of .500 or better. During the 1981 season his team tied number 5 Oklahoma and defeated number 8 Missouri. His teams beat the University of Iowa three years in a row, 1980, 1981, and 1982.

In 1984, Donnie was named the executive director of the Sun Bowl Association in El Paso, Texas, where he served for two years. During his tenure at the Sun Bowl new records were set for attendance and revenues. In 1986, he served one year as executive director of the Gator Bowl. Following his one year tenure at the Gator Bowl, he was named the director of athletics at the University of Oklahoma. During his stay at the University of Oklahoma from 1986 to 1996, the Sooners witnessed numerous achievements at the national level in several sports. The Sooners won the national championship in baseball in 1994, the NCAA title in men's gymnastics in 1991 and the NCAA championship in men's golf in 1989. The women's basketball team won the National Invitational Tournament in 1994, and the women's gymnastics team won the National Invitational of Women's Gymnastics in 1994. In 1988, Oklahoma became the first school in NCAA history to have its football team in a major bowl and it's men's basketball team in the NCAA championship game in the same academic year.

Donnie was instrumental in the formation of the Big 12 Conference while serving as the director of athletics at Oklahoma. He joined the Big 12 Conference in 1996 as one of its original staff members after serving as athletics director since 1986. Donnie was considered one of the NCAA's leading athletic administrators. He served as the Senior Associate Commissioner and Director of Football Operations for the Big 12 Conference. He was involved in every aspect of Big 12 football - including the regular season, officiating, championship game, bowls, and television agreements. Donnie has also been influential in NCAA administration, serving as the chair of the NCAA Special Events Committee, chair of the NCAA Football Rules Committee and was a member of a special NCAA Research Committee that studied the possibilities of a football playoff. He served on the College Football Association's Television Committee, which in 1992, negotiated the most lucrative television contract in college football history.

Donnie retired to Dallas, Texas, with his wife Sally. They have two children, Mark and Amy.

Donnie Duncan passed away March 12, 2016 after a long battle with cancer.

Selected Sources

National Football Foundation,

Iowa State Athletics, tribute

University of Oklahoma, tribute

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