McDonald returned to Queensland after three seasons with the Sea Eagles to captain-coach Toowoomba and was elected president of the club after his retirement. He also coached Queensland in the late 1970s and was coach of the Maroons' first State of Origin team in 1980. By the end of the decade, he had progressed to the position of President of the Queensland Rugby League (QRL) and in 1998, joined the National Rugby League Executive Committee and was named Chairman of the QRL and Australian Rugby League Board of Directors. That year he was also named "Sport Administrator of the Year" at the Queensland Sport Awards. In 2008, rugby league in Australia's centenary year, McDonald was named at centre in the Toowoomba and South West Team of the Century.