Remembering Jim Donlevy Donlevy coached the Golden Bears football team for 18 seasons, winning two Vanier Cups and five Canada West championships.

Jim Donlevy (BPE BEd '61, MA 75) is remembered for the tremendous impact he made with Golden Bears football, as well as in the Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation, and for sport throughout Western Canada while at the Western Hockey League and with Canada West.

Donlevy passed away on August 4th at the age of 82. His funeral will be held at St. James Catholic Church in Okotoks, at 1:00 p.m. on August 13th, 2019.

A passionate coach and sport administrator, Donlevy began coaching at the Bantam level in Edmonton, and went on to coach at every nonprofessional level of the game in Edmonton. He spent three seasons as an assistant coach with the Edmonton Huskies, where he helped the CJFL squad to a Prairie conference championship, and two Canadian league titles (1962 and 1963).

Following graduation from the U of A he taught, coached, and served as a physical education consultant with the Edmonton Catholic School Board before accepting an academic appointment to the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation in 1970. He was eventually promoted to Associate Professor in 1976.

His time with Golden Bear football began as an assistant in 1965 under the legendary Gino Fracas, and he helped the Bears win the 1967 Vanier Cup as an assistant to Clare Drake. Donlevy was named head coach in 1971, and he spent 26 seasons on the sidelines with the gridiron Bears, including 18 seasons as the program’s head coach. He oversaw perhaps the most successful time in Golden Bears football history, amassing a program record 93 wins, as well as capturing two of the program’s three Vanier Cups (1972 & 1980) and five Canada West titles (1971, 1972, 1979, 1980, 1981).

He was inducted onto the Golden Bears and Pandas Sports Wall of Fame in 1996.

“When my career at the U of A started in 1990, Jim Donlevy was my first mentor,” said UAlberta Athletic Director Ian Reade. “He was a passionate supporter of the University of Alberta and a dedicated football coach. He always had the best interests of the students and the institution at heart.”

Aside from his contributions through coaching, he worked tirelessly with provincial and national football governing bodies, serving as president of the Alberta Football Coaches Association, Football Alberta and the Canadian University Football Coaches Association, and was named the Football Commissioner and Convenor for Canada West Universities Athletic Association. He also helped co-author the first three levels of the Canadian national football coaching certification courses, along with Golden Bears alumni Gino Fracas, Val Schneider and Darwin Semotiuk.

“Jim was an integral part of establishing the foundation for what Canada West is today,” offered Rocky Olfert, Executive Director of Canada West. “His many contributions as a coach, teacher and administrator will live on through the countless individuals he influenced during his time in university sport.”

In 1991 he shifted away from coaching and towards the next incredibly impactful and influential chapter of his already impressive career when he took a two-year position as School Liaison within the U of A’s Registrar's Office.

That position opened up a door at the Western Hockey League as the Manager of the league-wide Education Program, which he oversaw for 20 years. During that time, Jim was instrumental in the WHL’s remarkable growth in the academic area both at the high school and post-secondary levels.

“All of our Western Hockey League Clubs and WHL Office staff are very saddened by the passing of our friend and colleague,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “Jim was instrumental in establishing league-wide education standards and policies for student athletes in the WHL. He always took a strong personal interest, along with our WHL Club education advisors, in ensuring our players achieved their academic goals while playing in the WHL. Together with WHL ownership and past WHL President Ed Chynoweth, Jim also played an integral role in the creation of the WHL Scholarship program. With over 6,000 recipients since its inception 25 years ago, the WHL Scholarship program is considered to be the most comprehensive post-secondary scholarship of its kind in North America.”

Jim Donlevy’s dedication to his work as a coach, teacher, administrator and sport influencer has benefited the development of generations of University of Alberta alumni, as well as countless Albertans and Western Canadians. His legacy enhances the reputation of the University of Alberta, as well as Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics, as incubators where excellence is the standard.

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