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James Donnelly


James F. Donnelly

Inducted 2013

Date of Birth



Nashville, TN


Middle Tennessee State University (1979-1998)

Austin Peay State University (1977-1978)


“Boots” Donnelly started his head coaching career at Austin Peay State, taking a program that had never won a football championship to an Ohio Valley Conference title in his first season. After two seasons, he left APSU for his alma mater where he would spend the next 20 years leading Middle Tennessee to unprecedented success. Donnelly led MTSU to nine top-20 regular-season finishes and seven NCAA I-AA (FCS) playoff appearances. He won or shared the Ohio Valley Conference title five times, was named the OVC Coach of the Year four times, was an AFCA district coach of the year on two occasions and became the first coach in OVC history to win a conference title at two different schools. The Nashville, Tenn., native was named the 1989 National Football Foundation Middle Tennessee Chapter’s Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award winner and is a member of the organization’s board of directors. Donnelly saved as the CEO of the Backfield in Motion organization, which combines academics and athletics to inspire inner city boys to reach their maximum potential.


Wins 154

Losses 94

Ties 1

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