Bill Daniels

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This article is about the American cable television pioneer. For the historian of Russia, see Robert V. Daniels. For others sharing this name, see William Daniels (disambiguation).

Robert W. "Bill" Daniels (July 1, 1920 - March 7, 2000) was a pioneer in the cable television industry, commonly known as the "father of cable television." He was an owner of the Los Angeles Lakers and a founder of the United States Football League (USFL).

Early life[edit]

Bill was born in Greeley, Colorado and shortly thereafter moved to Hobbs, New Mexico. There he was enrolled at the New Mexico Military Institute (NMMI), a distinguished State of New Mexico supported educational institution located in Roswell, New Mexico. He was the undefeated New Mexico Golden Gloves Boxing Champion. In 1941, he joined the Navy and became an accomplished fighter pilot both in World War Two and the Korean War, retiring with the rank of full commander. Not long after the war, on his way home he happened upon a bar in Denver that was showing a boxing match from out-of-state, and he became interested in the technology that brought television over long distances.

Founding an industry[edit]

Bill took a chance on this long-distance television market by setting up a microwave feed that delivered Denver programming to Casper, Wyoming in 1952. He soon shifted his focus towards brokering and investment banking for the growing industry. In 1958, he founded Daniels and Associates to specialize in this field. By 1965 his company, Daniels and Associates [1] had brokered in excess of $100 million and this represented about 80 percent of the year's transactions.[2]

Sports[edit]

A lifelong passion for sports of all sorts, Bill supported the Denver Grand Prix[1] and boxers, was a co-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, and owner of the American Basketball Association's Utah Stars franchise and was a founder of the USFL. With Lakers co-owner Jerry Buss, Bill started Prime Ticket sports programming network in the mid-1980s, which he later sold, sharing the proceeds with his employees. Daniels sponsored the USAC Championship Car campaigns of Texan Lloyd Ruby both in 1970 under the Daniel's Cablevision banner and in 1971 while promoting Daniel's Utah Stars franchise. In the case of the Utah Stars Basketball franchise, the team was not profitable and the league folded, leaving season ticket holders with no games, seats, or refunds. While Daniels was not financially obligated, he felt strongly about repaying the fans. Unable to make amends with his ticketholders at the time, years later he located and voluntarily repaid each Stars ticketholder with interest.[citation needed]

Young Americans Bank[edit]

In 1987, Daniels founded the Young Americans Bank, a special bank with a unique Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-insured state charter. The bank caters only to patrons under the age of 22 and teaches young people about banking and related financial matters.

Philanthropy[edit]

Daniels had problems at times with alcohol and both patronized and supported the Betty Ford Center and helped found Cenikor Foundation, a rehabilitation center in Colorado.[3] With his private Learjet, Bill sponsored a successful challenge to the world speed record which raised money for Junior Achievement. While attending a college graduation, he asked a graduate about the business ethics coursework, only to be told that for that school there were no ethics studies as a part of the business school program.[4] This in turn led to Bill's eventual endowment of the University of Denver Business School as they were like-minded with Bill and included ethics studies in their program. The business school was renamed University of Denver Daniels College of Business thereafter.[5] Daniels decided to use his fortune to continue helping others by forming a foundation[6] that supports issues relating to aging, alcoholism and substance abuse, amateur sports, disabilities, education (early childhood, K-12 reform, and ethics and integrity) homelessness and disadvantaged, and youth development. This foundation, the Daniels Fund received over one billion dollars from his estate when Bill Daniels died on March 7, 2000, making it one of the largest private foundations in the United States.

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