Middle Tennessee athletics honored one of the most recognized names in Blue Raider history with a full-size statue that now stands on the front lawn of the Kennon Sports Hall of Fame building.
The dedication for James “Boots” Donnelly statue was held Saturday, Oct. 3, before MTSU’s Homecoming game against Vanderbilt University. Because of rainy weather, the event was moved inside the hall of fame building, where Donnelly addressed the capacity crowd on hand.
“Coach Donnelly’s one of the pillars of our athletic department,” Director of Athletics Chris Massaro said.
“Putting a statue of him at the Hall of Fame building is perfect, because that facility was his idea, and he was able to involve Emmett and Rose Kennon for the funding. Emmett would be pleased if he was still alive. It’s a perfect location.”
Ed Bunio, a longtime MTSU assistant under Donnelly, spearheaded an effort to raise funds for a 6-foot-6 bronze statue.
A granite wall behind the statue includes the names of every player, assistant coach, trainer, manager and secretary who worked in the program during Donnelly’s tenure as coach (1979-98).
Donnelly was a player on the football team in the early ’60s, then became head football coach in 1979 and held that position for 20 years before resigning in 1998.
Donnelly then spent the next two years as director of community relations in the athletic department before being selected by former president James Walker to take over as interim athletic director. Donnelly was later named the full-time athletic director in 2002.
He is credited with helping usher MTSU football into FBS competition (formerly Division 1-A). Find more MT Athletics news at www.goblueraiders.com.
— MT Athletic Communications