HANCOCK - Three-time U.P. Class ABC Boys Basketball Coach of the Year Mike O'Donnell is leaving the sidelines of Negaunee High School and Lakeview Memorial Gymnasium to coach the Finlandia University men's basketball program, the Lions' athletic department announced Wednesday.
O'Donnell graduated from Finlandia in 2004 and during his career, helped the Lions to the 2001 United States Collegiate Athletic Association Division I championship, being named the tournament MVP.
"Being able to come back to my alma mater is something I'm extremely excited about," O'Donnell said in a press release. "This is a place where I had success as a player and a student, and I hope help my players learn to be successful not only on the court, but in the classroom as well."
Michael O’Donnell watches the closing minutes of Negaunee High?School’s MHSAA Class C state semifinal loss to Detroit Consortium on March 20 in East Lansing. O’Donnell is leaving the Miners to coach at Finlandia University. (AP file photo)
As coach of the Miners, O'Donnell won eight district championships, six regional championships and reached the final four of the MHSAA Class C tournament three times, including each of the past two seasons.
"We're extremely excited to have Mike come back and be a part of the Finlandia Lions family once again," FU athletic director Chris Salani said. "The successes he's had as a basketball coach and as a teacher exemplify what we want from our student athletes here at Finlandia."
O'Donnell, who was 180-48 for a .789 winning percentage at NHS, was named U.P. Class ABC Coach of the Year in 2008, 2013 and 2014 and his Miner teams have been named U.P. Class C Team of the Year in five of the last seven seasons, including the last four in a row.
"We are confident Mike will bring with him the same attitude and hard work that has made him a highly successful player, teacher and coach," Salani said.
Finlandia posted a 5-18 record in the third and final season under Terry Smith, who resigned to pursue new career opportunities effective April 18.
"Our goal will be to build a strong, successful Division III basketball program with a core of players who love to call the Upper Peninsula home," O'Donnell said. "This is a unique program in our region, and I think it's a great opportunity for U.P. players to showcase their talents."