It’s been a tough season so far for Xavier basketball, but the fact that fans can be “disappointed” with a middling season in the Big East shows just how far the program has come over the past two decades. A lot of credit for that growth goes to a man who never played a minute for the team. Dr. Bill Daily was a Xavier grad who returned to teach, and he was passionate about hoops. The university had dropped football in the early 70s to cut costs, and in the late 70s the basketball program was in a similar predicament.
“(Daily) was the single voice to say that this basketball thing is really an important piece of what a University is really all about. He convinced them to make a commitment and spend the resources and he chaired the search committee to get Bob Staak.”Gary Massa, former XU basketball player (Class of ’81) and current VP of University Relations
Bob Staak helped turn the program around in the early 80s (which coincided with my time at Xavier, btw… merely a coincidence, of course). The teams got better, and the program got bigger – moving from the Midwestern City Conference to the Atlantic 10 to the Big East, and moving from the ancient fieldhouse to the Cincinnati Gardens to the state-of-the-art Cintas Center on campus.
“Dr. Daily was the beginning of an unprecedented run if you go back … he had the wherewithal and the vision to see what basketball could be.”
Dr. Daily passed away last month at the age of 83. If being a “founding father” of the Xavier basketball program were all that Dr. Daily accomplished, his life would be considered a rousing success. But that merely scratches the surface of his influence on lives. Dr. Daily had six kids, and I know his daughter Maria well from our days at Xavier.
“He really felt his purpose in life was to make sure that everybody knew they were important and they were loved.”Maria Dickman, daughter
From this Cincinnati Enquirer article: He continued to learn and participate in a variety of adventures like the Urban Youth Academic Service Learning Experience in Over-the-Rhine, where he lived with and taught Xavier students in a house adjacent to Washington Park for multiple semesters. He started out teaching in the education department and eventually became chair of the communication arts department.
He sought every opportunity to help people which led him to become co-founder of the E Pluribus Unum program at Xavier, which helped students learn about diversity in today’s society.
He also received another degree in pastoral counseling from the Athenaeum of Ohio. He went on retreats to Gethsemani and was an associate at the Sisters of St. Francis convent in Oldenburg, Indiana. He took mission trips to Nicaragua, El Salvador and Ghana.
“That’s kind of what dad’s mission in life was. He wasn’t out to get the credit, he just wanted to make sure things got done.”Mary Beth Bruns, daughter
Nice job, Doc. The entire Xavier community owes you a deep debt of gratitude.
(Please read the entire article about Dr. Daily. This post doesn’t do him justice.)