Donnie Butcher, who led the University of the Cumberlands men’s basketball team to 17 NAIA tournament appearances, is retiring after 21 seasons and 452 wins at the helm of the Patriots program. The retirement is effective immediately, the athletic department announced Tuesday.
“It is sad to see the Donnie Butcher era come to a close. Donnie has been a tremendous asset to Cumberlands for more than three decades,” said Cumberlands President Larry Cockrum. “In addition to being a great coach, he has served as a role model and mentor for many student-athletes and younger coaches. He is highly regarded throughout the NAIA basketball community and has always operated his program with integrity. He will be greatly missed by our students and staff. I wish Donnie and his wife Bonnie all the best as they look forward to this new chapter in their lives.”
Butcher closes out his career second in Patriots history with 452 wins, tallying a .680 win percentage, including a 180-116 record in Mid-South Conference play. Coach Butcher ranks 12th in the NAIA in wins among active NAIA coaches as he led the Patriots to eight consecutive NAIA national tournament appearances. Under his guidance, the Patriots posted 18 20+ wins season, including capturing the MSC regular-season championship in 2003 in addition to winning the 2009 and 2012 Mid-South Conference Tournament.
Athletic Director Chris Kraftick said, “It’s always tough to see a great coach step away. Donnie has dedicated his life to this institution and represented Patriot Basketball with the highest of integrity. As Athletic Director, I hate to see him retire, but as a friend, I’m excited he has reached that point in life where he can spend time with his family and enjoy doing something other than prepping for the next MSC battle. Our department wishes Donnie and Bonnie the best and would like to thank them for a wonderful 32 years in Williamsburg.”
In his time at Cumberlands, Coach Butcher has epitomized success both on and off the court. Butcher earned Mid-South Conference Coach of the Year three times (2000-01, 2002-03, and 2010-11) as the Patriots advanced to the Elite Eight during the 2015-2016 season. Under his leadership, the Patriots tallied four Mid-South Conference Players of the Year, an MSC Freshman of the Year, 25 NAIA All-Americans, 60 MSC All-Conference selections, and 27 Daktronics-NAIA All-Americans.
“Since I was 18 years old, Coach Butcher has been a central figure in my life, and someone that I knew that I could rely on. The opportunity to play at UC for Coach is something that I have and will continue to cherish every day of my life,” said Patriots assistant coach Matt Daniel.
Daniel, who was a two-time All-American Honorable Mention at UC added, “Equally as special has been these past two seasons having the chance to come back and work for him on his staff. I’ve been blessed to have him as a coach and a mentor but most importantly someone I can call a friend. Outside of my parents and my family no individual person has impacted me as much as Coach has and I am and will continue to be forever grateful.”
Butcher came to Cumberlands as an assistant coach, under UC Hall of Famer Randy Vernon, in 1989. Butcher spent 11 seasons on the bench as an assistant before taking over the reins as the sixth coach in Cumberlands program history in November 2000. Prior to coming to UC, Butcher spent two seasons serving as an assistant Coach at Georgetown College.
The Patriots are set to open the 2021-22 season on Tuesday, October 26 when they host Milligan. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.