'Dotes' stepping down after 26 years
After 26 seasons and a 330-347 record, Doty — who players and fans affectionately call “Dotes” — is stepping away from his alma mater, a decision he made official earlier this week.
“It’s really been quite a ride,” Doty said Wednesday evening.
Doty, 57, took over the men’s basketball program in 1987 for Tim Miller and over the next two and a half decades, he guided the Wildcats through a rollercoaster of ups and downs. From 1998-2001, Linfield went 57-21 and made it to the NCAA Division III playoffs in 2001. Doty’s two best seasons came in that stretch. Linfield was 20-5 in 1998-99 and won the Northwest Conference. The Wildcats again won the conference championship in 2000-01 after a 21-6 record. Linfield hasn’t won a conference championship since.
Doty and the Wildcats had five winning seasons during the final 12 seasons of his career. The final two seasons weren’t only the toughest in his long, distinguished career, but also the two worst in the history of Linfield men’s basketball. The Wildcats were 5-20 in 2011-12 and 4-21 in 2012-13.
“Obviously we’d like to have all our programs be successful in the win-loss column,” Linfield Athletic Director Scott Carnahan said, “but at the same time you look at what the mission of the athletic department is, and that’s to provide meaningful experiences within the program and to be competitive. Larry has done that for a long period of time.”
Doty said the decision to retire has been in the works for the past few weeks as he tried to figure out what he would do after stepping down. He said the struggles of the past few seasons were taken into consideration into his decision.
“I’m not going to say that it wasn’t a piece of the puzzle, because I think it was,” he said. “We’ve been through seasons where we struggled, but over the course of my career we were able to bounce back. There were some ebbs and flows in there. … But it’s the right time for me. It’s the right decision for my wife, for my family, for our futures.”
More than anything, Doty said, he won’t look back on his career with regret. He graduated from Linfield College with a bachelor’s degree in 1978 and earned his master’s degree at Linfield in 1979. He played football, basketball and baseball for the Wildcats, and after coaching in high school at Hillsboro High School and West Linn, he was able to return to McMinnville. He never envisioned staying at the college long enough to become a tenured member of the Health, Human Performance and Athletics faculty, but that’s exactly what happened.
“I can look myself in the mirror,” Doty said, “and say that you know what? I poured my heart, my soul and my body into Linfield College and the basketball program for 26 years as the head coach, and I’m proud of what I’ve done.”
Doty played for Linfield coach Ted Wilson, who’s 324 career wins Doty surpassed late in the 2011-12 season. While he ends his tenure with a below-.500 winning percentage, Doty said the thing he will remember the most are the relationships he made with the hundreds of student-athletes who came through his program.
“The thing I’m going to take with me the most is all the relationships and how they’ve grown through the years,” Doty said. “My wife and I will forever be grateful for that, and the chance to be here. That wouldn’t have happened if Linfield hadn’t hired me and given me an opportunity to do that.”
Doty told his team at a meeting Tuesday. Sophomore captain Andrew Batiuk, who missed the meeting because of a doctor appointment, said Doty was a great role model.
“When I grow up, and if I become a father,” Batiuk said, “I want to be like (Doty). The values and lessons he taught were great. I’m going to miss him.”
“(Doty’s) service to Linfield has been over a long period of time,” Carnahan said. “Success isn’t just measured in wins and losses but also on the impact of the kids you coach, and certainly he’s had impact on them. … He’s developed a lot of close relationships with his players, and that part of it will stick with him for a long period of time. And them.”
While Carnahan searches for a new coach with the help of a recommendation committee, Doty will transition into a full-time role within the HHPA department at Linfield. He will continue to teach classes and also will supervise HHPA student internships within the community.
“I feel like I’m in a good spot right now,” Doty said, “and I’m excited for the future and the potential to focus on the academic piece and help Linfield students.”
Carnahan said there is no timeline for hiring a new coach, but he is in the process of forming a committee to help with the search.
“The other thing is,” Doty said, “it’s the right time for the basketball program. I’ve been here 26 years. Linfield will hire a really good coach, and I’m going to be their biggest fan.”