A. J. McDonald
ANDREW J. “ANDY” MCDONALD
Football, Basketball and Golf Coach, 1925-69
Inducted October 18, 1975
One of the most respected of all SMS sports figures, Coach McDonald has served SMS for almost 50 years. He came to SMS from the University of Kansas and was the Bears’ basketball mentor from 1925 until 1950. During his 23 seasons at the Bruin helm, he coached in and won more games than any other coach in the long and successful history of SMS basketball. His career record of 301 victories and 175 losses includes MIAA conference titles in 1928, 1931, 1934, 1935, 1949, and 1950 and he took the Bears to their first three appearances in the NAIA national basketball tournament in 1939, 1943, and 1949. His 1927-28 SMS team won 18 of 22 games and was the only team that year to beat the University of Arkansas. He brought SMS into its new fieldhouse in 1940 with a 35-32 victory over the University of Missouri and he saved his most successful era for the final four years of his basketball career. From 1946 through 1950, SMS finished second twice and first twice in MIAA conference play; led the nation’s small colleges twice in team defense; produced the school’s first two 20-victory seasons in basketball; and established two SMS records for consecutive victories which still stand. The 1948-49 team won its first 20 games for a school single season record, and, at one time during that season, was the only unbeaten college team in the country. A two-season span of 27 straight wins set between 1947 and 1949 is also a school record.
McDonald also coached three other sports at SMS. He assisted A. W. Briggs for several seasons in football and was the Bears’ head coach in that sport from 1934 to 1937. During the 1935-36 school year, he coached SMS teams in football, basketball, track, and golf. He was the only golf coach SMS had from the time the sport was started in 1934 until he retired in 1969. During that time, he won 17 MIAA conference golf titles; produced 10 conference medalists; and coached All-Americans Dick Baxter and Bill Lucas in 1963, Jesse Lyles in 1965, and Russ Orms in 1969. Through his influence, the NCAA instituted College Division regional golf play in 1959 and a national championship for the College Division in 1963. SMS hosted six regional meets and the first three NCAA CD national golf championships. Coach McDonald took SMS to six straight regional titles from 1959 through 1964 and an NCAA national title in 1963.
From 1950 to 1969, McDonald was the head of the SMS physical education department and the A. J. McDonald Achievement Award was begun in his name in 1969 as an award to be given annually to the outstanding male and female physical education graduate at SMS. McDonald was also honored in December of 1970 when the SMS Board of Regents renamed the school’s basketball facility McDonald Arena.