Billy Donlon has joined the Northwestern men’s basketball program as an assistant coach Sullivan-Ubben head men’s basketball coach Chris Collins announced Monday.
Donlon joins the Wildcats following one season on the coaching staff at the University of Michigan. He replaces Pat Baldwin who was named the head coach at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee earlier this week.
The ties to the Northwestern program run deep for Donlon. His father, Bill, served as an assistant coach for the Wildcats under head coach Bill Foster for seven seasons from 1986-93. Billy Donlon’s homecoming allows him to be reunited with current NU assistant Brian James who was his high school coach at nearby Glenbrook North High School, the same school attended by Collins.
“It has been an honor working alongside a Hall of Famer in Coach Beilein, at one of the nation’s top universities, with an incredible group of student-athletes,” Donlon said. “Being part of a championship team is a memory that will last forever, and something I’ll always be grateful for. Chicago is home for me. I’ve known Coach Collins since elementary school, and played for Coach James after that just a few miles away from the Northwestern campus. I’m so thankful for the opportunity that Dr. Phillips and Northwestern have provided, and can’t wait to get started.”
“We are very excited about the addition of Billy Donlon to the Wildcat basketball family,” said Collins. “Billy is an outstanding basketball coach with head coaching experience and has worked alongside some great coaches in his career. Billy is a homegrown talent and was a great player at Glenbrook North High School. We couldn’t be more thrilled to bring him back home to be a part of our program.”
Donlon’s lone season in Ann Arbor saw Michigan post a 26-12 record, including winning four games in four days to capture the Big Ten tournament title. The Wolverines went on to advance to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament.
Donlon went to Michigan after spending a decade at Wright State, including the final six years as the program’s head coach. In those six seasons (2010-16), Donlon compiled a 109-94 record with three 20-plus win seasons and helped the Raiders reach the Horizon League Tournament title game three times (2013, ’14, ’16). In addition, Donlon’s squads tied the program marks for wins with 23 in 2013 and conference wins with 13 in 2016.
Before his promotion to head coach in 2010, Donlon served as the associate head coach under current Clemson head coach Brad Brownell for four seasons (2007-10). He helped Wright State to four straight 20-plus win seasons, the 2007 Horizon League regular-season and tournament titles and an automatic bid to the 2007 NCAA Tournament.
Before joining Wright State, Donlon was an assistant at his alma mater UNC Wilmington for four seasons (2002-06), coaching again under Brownell. Donlon assisted the Seahawks to a pair of NCAA tournament appearances (2003, ’06) and two Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) regular-season and tournament titles (2003, ’06).
Following his collegiate playing career at UNCW, Donlon began his coaching career as an assistant at American University (1999-2000) before moving on to Saint Peter’s for a season (2000-01).
Donlon earned a history degree from UNCW in 1999.