Basketball Hall of Famer Anne Donovan dies at 56

Ms. Donovan coached the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun from 2013 to 2015.
Jessica Hill/Associated Press/File 2015
Ms. Donovan coached the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun from 2013 to 2015.

Anne Donovan, the Basketball Hall of Famer who won a national championship at Old Dominion, two Olympic gold medals as a player and another as a coach, died Wednesday of heart failure. She was 56.

Ms. Donovan’s family confirmed the death in a statement.

‘‘While it is extremely difficult to express how devastating it is to lose Anne, our family remains so very grateful to have been blessed with such a wonderful human being,’’ the statement said.


‘‘Anne touched many lives as a daughter, sister, aunt, friend and coach. Anne was a person with strong faith, courageous spirit, a giving heart, and love for everyone,’’ her family’s statement continued. ‘‘We are so proud of her accomplishments as a women’s basketball player and coach, but even more proud of her character, integrity, humility, and kindness.’’

Get Fast Forward in your inbox:
A look at the news and events shaping the day ahead, delivered every weekday.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Ms. Donovan was at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn., last weekend.

She was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995, was part of the inaugural class of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999, and was inducted in the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2015.

‘‘Throughout her college and professional career Anne was one of ODU’s best ambassadors both for the institution and Lady Monarch basketball,’’ Monarchs athletic director Wood Selig said.

The 6-foot-8-inch center coached both in college and the WNBA. She became the first female coach and the youngest person (42) to win a title in the WNBA, guiding the Seattle Storm to a championship in 2004.


‘‘Anne Donovan will always be remembered as a championship coach and a championship person,’’ the Storm said in a statement. ‘‘Her dedication, passion, and winning spirit set the tone for Storm Basketball. We are deeply saddened by her passing and share our heartfelt condolences with her family.’’

Ms. Donovan was a member of three Olympics teams as a player. The 1980 team did not go to Russia because of a boycott. The team won the gold in 1984 and ’88, and she coached the winning 2008 team.

‘‘She used to say she bled red, white, and blue,’’ USA Basketball said in a statement. ‘‘As much as we remember her accomplishments in the game, we mourn a great friend who will be greatly missed.’’

Ms. Donovan also coached the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, the Charlotte Sting, New York Liberty, and Connecticut Sun. The New Jersey native also coached at Seton Hall for a few years.