A federal grand jury indicted Donnan more than a year ago on 85 criminal counts alleging he defrauded investors out of millions of dollars in a Ponzi scheme.
The alleged victims of the scheme include a number of people in the Athens area and prominent figures from the world of college sports.
Donnan and Ohio businessman Gregory Crabtree conspired to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, scamming dozens of investors out of some $80 million, according to federal prosecutors.
Donnan entered a plea of not guilty following his indictment and was released on his own recognizance.
His trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday, following pretrial proceedings on Monday.
Donnan’s lawyers have maintained that the former coach had no intent to deceive when he persuaded investors to put money into a company called GLC Ltd., but meant to share his good fortune with others he told about GLC.
Donnan got a return of more than $8.4 million on his own investment in the company, but other, later investors lost about $23 million, according to court records.
Crabtree, indicted at the same time as Donnan last year, pleaded guilty last month to a single count of conspiracy to commit fraud in the sale of a security. His sentencing is scheduled for June.
According to the federal indictment, Donnan promised investors returns ranging between 50 percent and 200 percent if they invested in the company, which would use the money to buy inventory for resale.
But according to the federal charges, the company only sold about $5.4 million in merchandise, and money from later investors was used to repay earlier investors with interest – a Ponzi scheme.
In 2011, GLC filed for bankruptcy claiming debts of $27 million. Donnan and his wife Mary also filed for bankruptcy protection.
Donnan was the second UGA head coach after Vince Dooley’s 25-year tenure, succeeding Ray Goff, head coach from 1989 through 1995.
UGA football teams posted a 40-19 record in Donnan’s five years as head coach. His first team finished 5-6, but the next year, in 1997, Georgia was 10-2 and finished 10th in the AP poll.
In 2001, Donnan was replaced by Mark Richt, who remains the UGA head coach.
Donnan worked for a while as a football analyst for ESPN after leaving his job at UGA.
Before coming to Athens, Donnan was head football coach at Marshall University. His teams played in the NCAA Division 1-AA football championship game four times in five years, winning the championship in 1992.