BETHANY, W.Va. – Former Bethany College and Eastern Intercollegiate Football Officials Association Coach of the Year Don Ault passed away on February 25.

Ault Team“Coach Ault is one of a few coaching legends that have walked on this campus.  His passion and leadership on the football field not only made him a great coach but a great mentor of so many young men,” Director of Athletics Steve Thompson said. “His video message during the 125th Anniversary was the example. The pure joy in his face knowing his team was reconnecting over the weekend was priceless.”

In 1970, Ault joined the staff of another Bison great, coach Bob Goin, as an assistant. He was named Goin’s replacement in 1973.

During Ault’s tenure, Bethany was the Presidents’ Athletic Conference Champions twice and conference runner-up three other times. His 1980 squad finished the regular season undefeated and untied, becoming the first Bethany team to advance to the NCAA III playoffs. For his efforts, he was selected as Coach of the Year by the Eastern Intercollegiate Football Officials Association.

“Coach Ault is beloved for his influence on former players, both on the field and throughout their lives,” Bethany President Tamara Nichols Rodenberg said. “Words cannot fully express my appreciation for his dedication to Bethany College over the years.”

Ault took part in the program’s 125th anniversary in November of 2019 with a prerecorded message to his former student-athletes. His words sum up his experience and love for Bethany.

“That was a fun time, I coached all my life but nothing was more exciting than Bethany,” he said.

Thompson added: “He closed with a smile saying he had a great time at Bethany, but I would say we were the lucky ones. Bethany had a great time when he was our football coach.”

Coach Ault was a standout player and team captain for the West Liberty Hilltoppers in 1949 and 1950, finishing both years unbeaten and compiling a record of 18-0-1.

After graduation from West Liberty, Ault entered the coaching world and became an Ohio Valley legend. In 1966, he was selected as the Ohio High School Coach of the Year. His Bellaire High School squad enjoyed an undefeated season.

He then continued his career at the collegiate level serving as an assistant football coach for Marshall University and Bethany College.

Ault then became the head football coach at Slippery Rock State University, where he revived a dormant program by winning seven games in his first seasons. Due to his success, he was named Coach of the Year by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

He was inducted into the West Liberty Hall of Fame in 1996 and in Bethany College Hall of Fame in 1997.


Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in the area of liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.