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Doninger was born in Evansville around 1936. He received degrees from IU in business and law, and was a partner in the law firm Stark Doninger Mernitz and Smith. He had served as his class president, the Alumni Association presient, and the Varsity Club president before being named athletic director. He also rode on two winning Little 500 bicycle teams.
Doninger was forced into retirement by the university's mandatory retirement policy, and was replaced by Michael McNeely.
Doninger is married and has two children.
Other former athletic directors include: