Former Western Carolina football student-athlete and longtime football coach Don Powers ’68 MAEd ’69 became the newest member of the university’s Athletics Hall of Fame as the sole inductee of the hall’s 28th class, which was honored the weekend of Nov. 10-11. Powers died less than a month later at his home in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, after a lengthy illness.
Powers played for the purple and gold from 1963 until 1967 under head coach Dan Robinson ’50 and had two coaching stints at his alma mater, spanning 18 years. Powers first coached at WCU from 1968 until 1983, when he served under legendary coach Bob Waters, and again later on the staff of Kent Briggs ’79 MAEd ’81 in 2006-07. While at WCU, Powers was associated with some of the most prolific teams and coached some of the greatest players in school history.
An outside linebacker and defensive end during his playing days, Powers was a four-year letter-winner who earned NAIA All-District 26 honors three times as a player and was tabbed team MVP as a senior. Powers joined Robinson’s coaching staff at WCU in 1968 as a graduate assistant. The following year, under Waters, he became a full-time assistant assigned to the linebackers, a post he held until 1974 when he was named defensive coordinator. In 1982, Powers was named assistant head coach, becoming the first person in WCU history to earn such a title.
Powers’ impact at WCU was felt immediately upon being named defensive coordinator for the 1974 season, as he helped guide the Catamounts to the NCAA Division II national playoffs, its first NCAA postseason appearance. In the final season of his first coaching stint at WCU, Powers helped the Catamounts reach the 1983 NCAA I-AA national championship game – the first Southern Conference school to reach the title game.
Leaving WCU after the 1983 season, Powers continued his coaching career at three stops – Western Kentucky, East Carolina and, last, at The Citadel, which included five years as head coach. Originally from Lincolnton, where he was a 2004 inductee into the Lincoln County Hall of Fame, Powers is survived by the former Jane Strickland ’71, two daughters and three grandchildren.