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Prominent donor: ‘Coach Elliott is a great fit for the program and the University’

tony elliott
Virginia football coach Tony Elliott. Photo by Crystal Graham.

It was a big deal that Charles McDaniel Jr. was among the Virginia football alums on hand to welcome Tony Elliott as the new UVA head coach.

Let me tell you why.

In the week leading up to the Elliott hiring, a small but loud group of supporters of one potential candidate linked the hiring of the new coach to the level of donor commitment, implying that if the donors didn’t get their way with being able to choose the new hire, they’d take their money and go home.

After the 49-minute introductory press conference for Elliott had come to a close on Monday, I caught up with McDaniel, a 1986 alum and well-heeled Virginia Athletics donor.

The question on my mind had to do with the Internet chatter.

To his credit, McDaniel, president and CEO of Hilldrup Companies, one of the largest transportation and logistics corporations in America, and chairman of the board for UniGroup, the nation’s largest household goods relocation network, didn’t want to address the Internet stuff directly.

“I think Coach Elliott is a great fit for the program and the University. He understands what it’s like being around a championship-level program. He will have the support,” McDaniel said.

That’s all he needed to say.

McDaniel is old-school Virginia Football, the leader of the defense on the early-years George Welsh teams that turned the program around four decades ago.

“The Secretary of Defense,” as McDaniel would come to be known, left Virginia as the No. 2 all-time leading tackler in Cavalier history, and is one of only two players to lead Virginia in tackles for three consecutive seasons.

“Coach Welsh built the program from absolutely nothing,” McDaniel said. “He gave it a standard of excellence. That is what Virginia football is, and what we are continuing to build.”

McDaniel has continued his involvement with Virginia Football through his business. Traveling to an away game, you most likely have encountered one or both Hilldrup trucks as they haul a mountain of equipment from the McCue Center to the opponent’s field.

Hilldrup Companies provides both the equipment and personnel to handle that task, regardless of whether it’s to Blacksburg or as recently, Provo, Utah, for the contest against BYU.

McDaniel is very aware and supportive of the recent University commitment to significant facilities upgrades.

“It’s an investment in the entire athletic department,” he said, regarding the $10.3 million transfer to Virginia Athletics approved by the Board of Visitors last week that will be used to get ground broken on the long-awaited $65 million football operations center.

McDaniel is certainly no stranger to how the world works, guiding his companies through the highly competitive, ever-changing transportation industry.

He knows the difference between being a competitor and being competitive.

“The football program is responsible for a huge portion of the operating budget for our Olympic sports. Enhancing our competitiveness to attract great talent is critical, so investing in our football program is obviously a critical and much-needed action,” McDaniel said.

“Football is important to UVA, it matters. And when things matter here, they get done,” reflected McDaniel.

When you consider who’s saying that, this is huge for Virginia Athletics.

Story by Scott German

augusta free press
augusta free press