Aldo Donelli

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Aldo Donelli
Date of birth (1907-07-22)July 22, 1907
Place of birth Morgan, Pennsylvania
Date of death August 9, 1994(1994-08-09) (aged 87)
Place of death Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Career information
Position(s) Halfback/Punter
College Duquesne
Career history
As coach
1930–1935 Duquesne (freshmen)
1936–1938 Duquesne (assistant)
1939–1942 Duquesne
1941 Pittsburgh Steelers
1944 Cleveland Rams
1947–1956 Boston University
1957–1967 Columbia
Career highlights and awards
  • College coaching record: 105–107–8
  • NFL coaching record: 4–11
Career stats
Military career
Allegiance United States United States
Service/branch United States Navy seal U.S. Navy
Years of service 1945
Battles/wars World War II
Aldo Donelli
Personal information
Date of birth (1907-07-22)July 22, 1907
Place of birth Morgan, Pennsylvania
Date of death August 9, 1994(1994-08-09) (aged 87)
Place of death Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1925 Morgan F.C.
1929–1930 Cleveland Slavia
1934 Curry Silver Tops
1936 Heidelberg SC
1938 Castle Shannon SC
National team
1934 United States 2 (5)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Aldo Teo "Buff" Donelli (July 22, 1907 – August 9, 1994) was an American football player and coach, soccer player, and college athletics administrator. He served as the head football coach at Duquesne University from 1939 to 1942, Boston University from 1947 to 1956, and Columbia University from 1957 to 1967, compiling a career college football coaching record of 105–107–8. Donelli was also a head coach in the National Football League (NFL), with the Pittsburgh Steelers for part of the 1941 season and with the Cleveland Rams in 1944, tallying a career mark of 4–11 in the NFL. From 1951 to 1955 he was the athletic director at Boston University. Donelli played college football at Duquesne and was an assistant football coach at his alma mater from 1930 to 1938, before being promoted to head coach. He played soccer with a number of clubs in the 1920s and 1930s and was a member of the United States men's national soccer team during the 1934 FIFA World Cup. He is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame.



In 1925, Donelli played for Morgan F.C., a western Pennsylvania soccer team. At some point, he moved to Cleveland Slavia, playing for them at least the winter of 1929–30. In January and February 1934, he is listed with Curry Silver Tops and then Heidelberg SC from February to April 1936. He also played for Castle Shannon in March 1938.

National team[edit]

Donelli was selected to the United States 1934 FIFA World Cup team. In a 4–2 qualifying victory over Mexico in Rome, Italy on May 24, he tallied all four times, becoming the first American to score his first three international goals with the senior team in the same match (Sacha Kljestan would become the second to achieve this feat on January 24, 2009).[1] Three days later in the same stadium, Donelli scored the lone U.S. goal in its 7–1 first-round elimination loss to his native Italy. It would be the last one any American scored on Italian turf for another 58 years, and also the only Italian American to score on his own native team. He was inducted into U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1954.



Donelli, who played college football at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was a halfback and punter. He went on to coach Duquesne University, Columbia University, Boston University, and the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Rams of the National Football League.

Duquense, NFL[edit]

Donelli took over as Duquesne head coach in 1939, compiling a 29–4–2 record as the Dukes finished in the top ten twice in four seasons. His tenure at his alma mater also gave him a place in the history books as the only man to serve as head coach of both a college and NFL team simultaneously. Donelli served as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 1941 fall campaign on the bluff of Duquesne University. The Dukes were on their way to an undefeated season in 1941 and after the Steelers lost their first two games coach (and later NFL Commissioner) Bert Bell resigned, having Donelli replace him. Aldo would coach the Steelers in the morning during classes at Duquesne University and then the Dukes in the afternoon. Although his college team finished undefeated, the Steelers lost all five games under Donelli. He also coached the Cleveland Rams for a single season (1944) attaining a 4–6 record.

Boston University and Columbia[edit]

Donelli continued on to coach at Boston University from 1947 to 1956 with a 46–34–4 record and again placing a season in the top 25 poll. In 1957 he was named the head coach at Columbia University where he would serve until 1967 compiling a 30–76–4 record. In 1961 he coached Columbia to its only Ivy League championship.

Other accomplishments[edit]

Donelli was a founding member of Alpha Phi Delta, Psi chapter, the national Italian heritage fraternity, at Duquesne University on March 19, 1929. Donelli received his business degree from Duquesne University in 1930 and his graduate business degree in 1931.

Donelli was drafted into the United States Navy for a short time during the last year of World War II. In the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s after semi-retiring from coaching, he worked in public relations for PGA events around Boston while keeping homes in suburban Pittsburgh and then eventually Florida.


Columbia University's weight room is named in Donelli's honor.[2]

Head coaching record[edit]


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs AP#
Duquesne Dukes (NCAA University Division independent) (1939–1942)
1939 Duquesne 8–0–1 10
1940 Duquesne 7–1
1941 Duquesne 8–0 8
1942 Duquesne 6–3–1
Duquesne: 29–4–2
Boston University Terriers (NCAA University Division independent) (1947–1956)
1947 Boston University 5–3
1948 Boston University 6–2
1949 Boston University 6–2
1950 Boston University 3–5
1951 Boston University 6–4
1952 Boston University 5–4–1
1953 Boston University 5–3–1
1954 Boston University 7–2
1955 Boston University 2–6
1956 Boston University 1–5–2
Boston University: 46–36–4
Columbia Lions (Ivy League) (1957–1967)
1957 Columbia 1–8 1–6 8th
1958 Columbia 1–8 1–6 7th
1959 Columbia 2–7 1–6 8th
1960 Columbia 3–6 3–4 5th
1961 Columbia 6–3 6–1 T–1st
1962 Columbia 5–4 4–3 T–3rd
1963 Columbia 4–4–1 2–4–1 6th
1964 Columbia 2–6–1 1–5–1 7th
1965 Columbia 2–7 1–6 T–7th
1966 Columbia 2–7 1–6 7th
1967 Columbia 2–7 0–7 8th
Columbia: 30–67–2 21–54–2
Total: 105–107–8
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
#Rankings from final AP Poll.


  1. ^ "Sacha Kljestan Hat Trick Provides U.S. Men With 3–2 Victory Against Sweden to Open 2009". United States Soccer Federation. January 24, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Obituaries... Aldo T. "Buff" Donelli, 87". 20. Columbia University Record. September 9, 1994. 

External links[edit]