July 12, 2000 - by
McDaniel Is First Woman In State Of Florida To Donate More Than $1 Million To Women’s Athletics

July 12, 2000

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Lucy McDaniel never imagined that she would become the first woman in
the State of Florida to donate more than $1 million to women’s
athletics. McDaniel is among a growing band of pioneer
philanthropists across the country who have realized the importance,
if not necessity, of private support of women’s intercollegiate

But pioneering is nothing new to the FSU graduate, who
attended college before women competed intercollegiately. When she
arrived at FSU in 1955 she was a national qualifier in swimming and
gymnastics. FSU swim coach Bim Stults welcomed her to work out with
the men’s team and FSU’s national championship gymnasts also invited
her to train with them in Tully Gym, but she was denied that
opportunity because the administration did not feel it appropriate
for her to swim or work out with the men. So, McDaniel settled for
synchronized swimming with the Tarpons, which is a combination of the
two sports.

Following graduation, she coached at Palm Beach High and
started a gymnastics program at Miami Senior while running over 100
summer clinics across the United States. After serving ten years at
Stetson University, she joined the staff at Florida Technology
University, before it became University of Central Florida. She
taught and started the school’s first intercollegiate teams in
softball and volleyball where she rang up a perfect 55-0 record —
believed to be an NCAA record — to win the Division II national

“I had watched man after man, couple after couple, donating a
million or two million to Florida State but there was never, ever,
one woman to come forward with a major gift to women’s athletics,”
said McDaniel, who now owns an athletic apparel company called
McDaniel Enterprises, Inc. whic manufactures 104 items from key
chains to apparel. “I knew there were plenty of women out there with
money and when they did step forward, it always went to men’s
athletics. That has made sense because until recently,
intercollegiate sports were all men, and men and women understood
that in order for athletics to excel, or even exist, private gifts
were needed. The Committee of Thirty is educating women and men that
women’s scholarships, equipment and travel cost the same as men’s,
and that our women athletes need the same private help. I knew in my
heart that some woman had to make the break, be first. I felt
strongly that if one woman stepped forward, surely others would
follow, but I didn’t think it would be me.”

“I am starting my twenty-fifth year in college athletics and
I have never heard of one individual making that large of a gift to
one individual women’s sport,” head coach Cecile Reynaud said. “It
has to be one of the first gifts like it in the country and
hopefully, the beginning of many more gifts like it to women’s teams.
The time is right for women that have been fortunate to make those
kind of gifts, and when they do, you will see women’s programs
make a big jump.”

McDaniel first gave $100,000 to endow a volleyball
scholarship at Florida State and later designated another $50,000 so
the team could play a European tour this past May.

McDaniel wanted to do more, so she asked her accountant to run
through her financial statements to see what she would be able to
gift now and later in her will. When the accountant told her, she
called Seminole Booster Planned Giving Director Joel Padgett to start
the process.

The snag came when Padgett mentioned publicizing what is the
largest gift in FSU women’s athletics history by a woman. McDaniel,
who has kept her wealth private, was uncomfortable with publicity or
the idea that the volleyball court inside Tully Gym would be named
“The McDaniel Arena”.

“I didn’t want my friends thinking differently about me,”
McDaniel said. “But Joel feels very strongly that if I was going to
be the first woman in the state of Florida, or wherever, to endow a
million-plus dollars, it needed publicity. Women across the country
would hear about it and maybe endow women’s athletics at their
university. Joel is a smooth talker so he had me there.”

The gift was a complete secret until May 9th, when an
announcement was made at a private Booster function at the Port
Orange home of Reid Hughes, who also gifted $1 million to FSU

“When Joel announced the gift, my friends were shocked and my
broker almost had a heart attack,” said McDaniel, with a laugh. “Two
years ago, when the Committee of 30 was formed to promote support for
women’s athletics, and McDaniel was asked to become a member. I
thought finally, I can make gifts to women’s athletics at my alma
mater and have it go where I wanted. You don’t have to be rich to
help your alma mater.”

A portion of McDaniel’s $1 million-plus gift is a will gift.
“There will be no fighting over my will now, because I have taken
care of everything,” McDaniel said. “I have taken care of my five
nieces and nephews, and friends, and the rest will go to FSU.”
While her major motivation was helping women’s athletics at
her alma mater, McDaniel said Uncle Sam encouraged her to do it too.
“I’ve never agreed with the way our government has spent my
tax dollars, so I did it to lower my income tax,” said McDaniel, who
also donates to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. “I have a good chance
to see my money put to good use and the government has a little less
money to give to countries that wouldn’t give us the time of day.”
McDaniel had kept her wealth and her plans to give to FSU a
secret from her family and friends, so they were surprised to read
about her gift in the Daytona Beach paper. By the time the story ran,
McDaniel was on a plane bound for Germany and the volleyball team who
had left a few days before. “I don’t want people to think differently
about me than they do now,” McDaniel said. “It is a little strange
with long relationships. People call me to say they didn’t know I was
a millionaire, and I say I am not a millionaire, I gave it all to
Florida State.”

When she arrived in Germany, Reynaud wanted her to tell the
team. “At a team dinner one night, Cecile told them about the gift
and that the court would be named for me and then asked me to speak,”
McDaniel said. “I told them that I’d give them a year, but by next
year they better have a good reason for losing. In all the years I
coached I never lost a game on my home court let alone a court with
my name on it.”

The former volleyball coach spent fourteen days with the
women, observing practices, matches, shopping and sightseeing in
three different countries.

“I had more fun with them than I would have if I went with a
bunch of my friends,” McDaniel said. “They are in high gear or dead
stop. Playing matches, shopping, on walking tours and then dead
asleep on the bus in between. It was a wonderful time and I don’t
think anyone ever got as much for $50,000 as I did.”

McDaniel has a lifetime of memories of the tour. “When the
kids knew that I was taking them, I got darling thank-you notes and
when I got home I’d received seven or eight thank-you notes from the
parents, which I was not expecting,” she said. “I made myself a
scrapbook of all the letters.”

“I’m truly grateful to Lucy for feeling that strongly about
our program and I know when we announced it to our student athletes,
they just don’t get how much money that is and how historic of a gift
it is to women’s athletics,” Reynaud said. “When she first told me
she was going to do it, I was typing on my computer and I caught
myself saying, ok, put your work down and listen to this. Listen to
this because this is a historical conversation you are having.
Nationally, people are going to be very impressed. Hopefully, we can
recognize her at national conventions for her leadership and

When McDaniel donated the $100,000 position scholarship for
volleyball, she requested that it be for the setter position. “You
can have all the power hitters you want, but if you don’t have a
setter who can get the ball to them, then your hitters are wasted,”
the former coach turned donor said.

Well, Lucy, you’re not only a setter who has put the ball in
play for the power hitters, but you’ve proven to be a pretty powerful
hitter yourself.

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