Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

May 17, 2014

Dr. D'Antoni: Concord honors 100-year-old coach

ATHENS — Lewis D’Antoni received his second degree from Concord University on Saturday, 77 years after his first.

At age 100, the Mullens resident and award-winning coach was honored by his alma mater with an honorary doctor of humanities degree at Concord’s morning commencement ceremony at the Carter Center in Athens.

He congratulated the graduates of 2014 from the podium, noting, “I know that you are anxious to receive your diplomas. Seventy-seven years ago, I was in the same situation, waiting to receive my diploma.”

“I would like to tell each graduate that the world is waiting for you, so I say to you, go after them. ... I want to wish you the best of health and a happy life.”

After his 1937 graduation from Concord, he began a 35-season teaching and coaching career that included 450 wins and the state basketball championship while at Mullens High School in 1955.

He was named to receive the first High School Coach of the Year award that year from the West Virginia Sports Writers Association, and is a member of the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.

In his late 90s, became an author, publishing his memoir, “The Coach’s Coach.”

At Concord, he was captain of both the football and basketball teams and was president of the freshman class.

D’Antoni recalled that he was coached by the late Concord coach W.S. “Woody” Wooddell, that he enjoyed the Concord Commanders musical group, and that he became a member of the Phi Delta Pi fraternity after going through initiation rites known then as “hell week.”

He added, “Also, there was a road near here that was called ‘The Road to Ruin.’ I don’t know if it’s still out there or not — but anyway, I enjoyed all those things.”

He recalled, “When my daughter handed me the letter from Concord, that they wanted me to accept an honorary degree, I almost fell out of my chair.”

Concord President Kendra Boggess formally introduced D’Antoni, saying, “We are proud to call you a Mountain Lion.”

“You have served West Virginia as an educator and a coach, while challenging those around you to exceed their own expectations,” she said. “You have touched the lives of countless students and student-athletes in West Virginia, and for that, we commend you.”

Dr. Jane Smith, the institution’s vice president and academic dean, read the citation aloud that went with the degree.

“You have brought acclaim to your hometown of Mullens, to the state of West Virginia and to Concord, your alma mater as both an educator and a coach,” Smith read to the crowd.

“From high school to college and throughout your professional career, you have been a leader, an overachiever, a believer in challenging yourself and those around you to excel.”

She said that the degree recognized “your extraordinary professional accomplishments and your tireless service and dedication as an educator and coach.”

In its afternoon commencement ceremony, Concord presented another honorary doctor of humanities degree to attorney Robert E. Holroyd, a Princeton native who has served as Mercer County prosecuting attorney and member of the House of Delegates.

The official commencement program listed 302 candidates for May graduation, and 59 eligible to march on Saturday whose projected graduation date is this August.

D’Antoni noted the difference between his “first” graduation and his most recent ceremony, which he called “real nice.”

“They had so many of them to graduate,” he said. “We had our graduation in ‘Old Main,’ and we had very few (graduates), I can’t remember how many, (but) much less than what we had today.” The building once known as Old Main is now called Marsh Hall.

D’Antoni said about the Class of 2014, “I’m sure that they were real happy to get their diploma and get out of here so they can get into the world.”

— Contact Tom Bone at

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