Donnan goes from Hall of Fame to ‘real SEC’ Hall of Shame

It turns out life was a lot simpler when Jim Donnan was just a football coach. (Getty Images)

It turns out life was a lot simpler when Jim Donnan was just a football coach. (Getty Images)

As Georgia football coaches go, Jim Donnan is the only one who collapsed under the weight of the SEC.

Not that SEC — the real one.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Donnan with conducting an $80 million Ponzi scheme with an Ohio partner through a West Virginia company, GLC Limited.

This is even worse than losing to Kentucky in your first season.

Donnan mostly made his mark as a football coach at Marshall, where he won Division 1-AA championships. At Georgia, he was a step up from Ray Goff but not nearly as good as his replacement, Mark Richt. He had an impressive enough career to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009. What happened after that, I don’t know.

Once a coach or an athlete has achieved a certain level in sports and made a fair amount of money, it should not be that difficult to capitalize on your name — legally.

Donnan never coached again after getting fired following the 2000 season. He went into broadcasting. He got a job at ESPN. He did local sportstalk radio. Everything seemed fine. But often that competitive edge, the need for a thrill, that drives coaches and athletes doesn’t leave them post-career. That can become their undoing. It’s the simplest explanation I can think of for what Donnan has been accused of.

If the allegations are true, Donnan did the worst possible thing: He used his name to commit fraud against those who considered him a friend. He duped coaches and former players.

Among the SEC’s claims: “Donnan recruited the majority of investors by approaching contacts he made as a sports commentator and as a coach. For instance, he capitalized on his influence over one former player by telling him, ‘Your Daddy is going to take care of you. … If you weren’t my son, I wouldn’t be doing this for you.’  The player later invested $800,000.”

Imagine if Donnan didn’t consider him a son.

This story first broke last year. GLC Limited filed for bankruptcy in March of 2011. Donnan filed for bankruptcy a few months later. Financial disclosures indicated he owed $8.25 million to GLC Limited, according to a story in the Journal-Constitution. The court filing included 65 pages of creditors from several states.

In July of 2011, our Tim Tucker quoted Donnan’s attorney, Edward Tolley, as saying: “If this was a phony scheme, a lot of people were fooled, including, I submit to you, Jim Donnan.”

That defense apparently did not sway the SEC.

According to a news release on the charges, Donnan and his partner, Gregory Crabtree, ran a wholesale liquidation business that earned “substantial profits by buying leftover merchandise from major retailers and reselling those discontinued, damaged, or returned products to discount retailers. They promised investors exorbitant rates of return ranging from 50 to 380 percent.  However, only about $12 million of the $80 million raised from nearly 100 investors was actually used to purchase leftover merchandise, and the remaining funds were used to pay fake returns to earlier investors or stolen for other uses.”

So much for the simple and stress-free life of a football coach. Maybe Donnan should’ve just followed Goff into the chicken business.

By Jeff Schultz

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209 comments Add your comment

DP

August 16th, 2012
11:36 am

Jeff, I think you meant to write “That defense did NOT sway the SEC.” For as many corporate criminals as the near toothless SEC doesn’t prosecute, for them to think they have enough evidence against Donnan to prosecute him suggests to me that he was right in the middle of the conception of the Ponzi scheme despite his attorney’s claims he was a victim. If so, lock him up and throw away the key.

Shannon

August 16th, 2012
11:38 am

Wow! Is this another case where a high profile person will be slapped on the wrist or is he looking at serious jail time? There always seems to be different standards for the rich or well known.

Alphare

August 16th, 2012
11:39 am

DawgNole

August 16th, 2012
11:40 am

“In July of 2011, our Tim Tucker quoted Donnan’s attorney, Edward Tolley, as saying: `If this was a phony scheme, a lot of people were fooled, including, I submit to you, Jim Donnan.’

“That defense apparently did sway the SEC. ”
__________________________

Did you mean to write “That defense apparently`”DIDN’T’ sway the SEC,” Jeff–because it apparently didn’t?

Old Dawg

August 16th, 2012
11:42 am

Lock the bum up and throw away the key!

Jeff Schultz

August 16th, 2012
11:43 am

Folks — Word “not” was dropped for the few minutes it was posted, edited back in. (Wow, you’re quick.)

Alphare

August 16th, 2012
11:44 am

What the chance he knows nothing about the scheme? I mean he is the prime recruiter of the whole scheme.

The way he talked to his former player alone makes anybody cringe. It’s an investment, any investment carries risks.

Didn’t he get more than $10mill when the whole thing collapsed?

Ted M

August 16th, 2012
11:48 am

Wow Donnan is the worst piece of crap. He intentional stole from his friends. I’m kinda surprised one of the them didn’t freak out and in a fit of rage literally kill Donnan.

Dawglasville

August 16th, 2012
11:49 am

Spoke to the man and his wife a few times. They were both very nice. Temptation is a powerful thing. Speaking of temptation, Sideshow GTBob won’t be able to resist this.

Stuart

August 16th, 2012
11:50 am

Jeff saying that Richt is an upgrade from Donnan is akin to saying Mike Shula is was an upgrade from Mike DuBose.

Alphare

August 16th, 2012
11:52 am

Jim Donnan, Jim Harrick, they are quality characters out of UGA. You UGA folks got to be proud. Are they part of red/black, or DGD? LOL.

khaki-wearing effiminate UGA fan

August 16th, 2012
11:53 am

Still, a better coach than CMR…

Bernie Madoff

August 16th, 2012
11:54 am

68 million dollars missing is a lot of grits.

khaki-wearing effiminate UGA fan

August 16th, 2012
11:54 am

Still, a DGD in my book. Richt made his money off of Donnan’s recruits. That’s the truth, although the Richt-o-holics will deny.

441North

August 16th, 2012
11:56 am

Anyone who picks Jasper Sanks over Jamal Lewis can’t be too bright.

DawgInaTruck

August 16th, 2012
11:57 am

This is what happens to you when you lose three in a rown to the downtown gnats. You pay forever.

Not Disappointed is Disappointed

August 16th, 2012
12:00 pm

Wow, we are talking about a lot of Federal Time! I mean he has to serve 85% of it too!
He may not walk out of prison but be carried out on a stretcher. So sad! Here’s the Fed’s (Security Exchange Commission) motto! ‘You may be smarter than us, but we are more throrough.
‘And the hits just keep on Coming!’

DawgNole

August 16th, 2012
12:01 pm

khaki-wearing effiminate UGA fan
August 16th, 2012
11:54 am

Still, a DGD in my book.
_____________________

Please. Don’t embarrass us. You probably think Sandusky’s “still a DGNL.”

Bernie Madoff

August 16th, 2012
12:04 pm

Another great public relations event connected to UGA.

Consider this...

August 16th, 2012
12:05 pm

Khaki,

Winning percentage: Richt – 74% over 11 years, Donnan – 68% over 5 years
SEC Championships: Richt – 2, Donnan – 0
SEC East Championships: Richt – 5, Donnan – 0.

Uh, who is the better coach again?

BAU

August 16th, 2012
12:10 pm

UGA Players, Coaches and Athletic Directors… All cut from the same cloth.

[...] Needless to say, Coach Richt has options whenever that time comes  he decides to pack up his straw hat and go elsewhere (and for the record, I hope that is a long time down the road).  But one thing I will bet my life on is that Mark Richt will not follow the same path of his predecessor.  [...]

oldfart

August 16th, 2012
12:11 pm

He will possibly get a year at Club Fed and you can bet there is still some money hidden somewhere. Yet another example that Colleges need to rein in the athletics departments that represent them or abstain from providing the NFL with a minor league system.

Alphare

August 16th, 2012
12:12 pm

well, George O’Leary did lie about his resume, but all is forgiven since that’s a less than $80mill scandal.

BTW, O’Leary beat Donnan on the football field too.

Ghruten

August 16th, 2012
12:14 pm

Unbelievable this guy is in the hall of fame and Erk Russell is not.

dick whiskey

August 16th, 2012
12:15 pm

should put this lowlife crook in the same room with all the people he screwed and let them tear his a@@ apart,guy lost his job on ESPN because he was a joke, a wooden indian had more personality than this old fart

khaki-wearing effiminate UGA fan

August 16th, 2012
12:16 pm

Donnan inherited the Goff bunch. Richt greatly benefited from Coach Donnan’s recruiting prowess. DGD in my book. Never won a national championship at UGA, but, neither will the goofball’s running the program now.

Alphare

August 16th, 2012
12:20 pm

“Among the coaches Donnan helped attract were Texas State football coach Dennis Franchione; Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer; ex-Dallas Cowboys coach Barry Switzer and Texas Tech football coach Tommy Tuberville.”

Tommy Tuberville can tell Obama’s birthday certificate is fake, but cannot tell Donnan’s investment scheme is fake? what’s going on there, smart Tom?

DawgNole

August 16th, 2012
12:22 pm

khaki-wearing effiminate UGA fan
August 16th, 2012
12:16 pm

Donnan inherited the Goff bunch. Richt greatly benefited from Coach Donnan’s recruiting prowess. DGD in my book. Never won a national championship at UGA, but, neither will the goofball’s running the program now.
____________________

So you measure Donnan’s UGA success by “what the goofballs running the program now” can/cannot do?

Maybe it’s because you’re effeminate?

SSIgator

August 16th, 2012
12:23 pm

Too bad the “real SEC” doesn’t have any authority over the con artists – St. Markus Rectumus and his merry band of thieves – that soak UGA out of millions of dollars and laugh all of the way to the bank while masquerading as college football coaches.

Consider this...

August 16th, 2012
12:25 pm

Khaki, you’re an attention-hungry moron…period.

Jack Dennis TN

August 16th, 2012
12:25 pm

You could sort of sense that Donnan was a punk….even back then.

Dr. Phil

August 16th, 2012
12:25 pm

Did Adams invest?

Greg

August 16th, 2012
12:32 pm

Don’t lie to the FEDs Jim, because they will just add more time for perjury charges.

AuburnCreed

August 16th, 2012
12:35 pm

Just more proof that THuga is nothing but a rotten, cheatin’ program. Thugs and crooks. All of ‘em!!

WhatUpDawg

August 16th, 2012
12:35 pm

I am thinking that if he is guilty, he will be serving some serious jail time. People may say (and have already said) that he is wealthy and connected. Well, I offer to you that the victims of his are as equally wealthy and connectied. They will want retribution. I also offer too you, Bernie Madoff. No person convicted of similar crime was as wealthy and connected as him and he is currently serving 155 years in prison.

Smart like a fox

August 16th, 2012
12:35 pm

what can you say……it’s UGA. No one is ever surprised, and its all ways something….that’s how they got the nickname……. “The Cesspool of the South”.

DawgNole

August 16th, 2012
12:36 pm

Consider this…
August 16th, 2012
12:25 pm

Khaki, you’re an attention-hungry moron…period.
_____________________

An attention-hungry EFFEMINATE moron . . . who can’t spell.

7576DAWG

August 16th, 2012
12:36 pm

Financial fraud punishment is a joke. Donnan should have all assets accumulated by him during the time he started his little fraud, of his and his wife’s confiscated. If other family members got big bonuses or payout , that money should be taken , also. Then if everybody gets reimbursed he should go to prison for at least 5 years. If all stolen money is not returned Donnan should spend the next 20 years in prison. The main thing is that he and his family should be completely ruined financially unless every penny is returned. He certainly didn’t care about his victims.

Tide Rising

August 16th, 2012
12:39 pm

Damon Evans was embarrassing enough for Dawg fans. And now a former coach ripped off folks to the tune of 80 million? I remember dawg fans laughing about the Mike Price fiasco. What goes around comes around dawg fans. Aint laughing now are ya?

Coach Ralph Fontaine

August 16th, 2012
12:41 pm

At least nothing was done in a shower on campus

Tide Rising

August 16th, 2012
12:41 pm

“Just more proof that THuga is nothing but a rotten, cheatin’ program. Thugs and crooks. All of ‘em!!”

Its a rarity when a Tide fan and an Auburn fan agree on anything. But we certainly agree on this.

Ted M

August 16th, 2012
12:43 pm

Does anyone know of comments the victims made towards Donnan?

Dawglasville

August 16th, 2012
12:44 pm

SSIgator – What are you guys paying Muschamp? If you are happy. We are happy. Our guy won’t start faking chest pains to go coach at another school like your ex-boy wonder.

Khaki – Ray put a few guys in the NFL too. The cupboard wasn’t bare when Donnan took the job and he didn’t do anything with those players.

Well

August 16th, 2012
12:44 pm

DONNAN OF A NEW ERA!

I remember seeing that sticker on quite a few trucks back in the late 90s.

Dawglasville

August 16th, 2012
12:44 pm

SSIgator – What are you guys paying Muschamp? If you are happy. We are happy. Our guy won’t start faking chest pains to go coach at another school like your ex-boy wonder.

Khaki – Ray put a few guys in the NFL too. The cupboard wasn’t bare when Donnan took the job and he didn’t do anything with those players.

P B Orr

August 16th, 2012
12:45 pm

“This is even worse than losing to Kentucky in your first season.” Oh Schultzie, you made me spit coffee everywhere! You come clean up this mess!!

Just Asking

August 16th, 2012
12:46 pm

I can’t believe that Donnan lasted 5 years. During his tenure, I can’t remember anyone glad we had him as a coach. Maybe you thought he was a DGD but that was probably not as a coach, and now not as a human being. Like him or not, how can anyone defend him?

Well

August 16th, 2012
12:46 pm

“Uh, who is the better coach again?”

National Championships

Richt – 0

Donnan – 0

Neither were/are great.

Well

August 16th, 2012
12:47 pm

” I can’t remember anyone glad we had him as a coach”

DONNAN OF A NEW ERA!