|APRIL/MAY 1997 - SPORTS|
For a real motivating machine, see the Boosters
By Charlie Barnes Executive Director, Seminole Boosters
Andy Miller was born in the summer of 1951, and so was the Seminole Boosters organization. That summer, newly-minted FSU alumni, along with some Gator grads, business leaders and a scattering of other Old South SEC types, happily clustered together to promote Seminole football to the benefit of all concerned. Miller, who grew up next door in Havana, has spent the last 22 years - very nearly half his life as well as the Boosters' - as the visionary chief executive of possibly the most accomplished college booster organization in America.
Bob Lee Bannerman, son of a prominent Tallahassee family and campus leader at FSU in the late '40s, was the first president. As Bannerman tells it, "The first year, we tied into a pretty ambitious goal: $5,000. It turned out that we only raised $397, and so at the first meeting of 1952, Charles Rosenberg quoted humorist Ogden Nash: 'Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.' Charles proposed that we host a series of cocktail parties, which we did, and the Club quickly raised $12,189."
Originally, the name "Seminole Club" was selected over such submissions as "Go FSU" and the "Pow Wows." Early minutes also reflect a discussion of whether membership should be open to women "on exactly the same basis as to men." The proposal passed.
Records of the early years suggest a more naive time, and a sincere struggle with the emerging issues of college athletics. Item #9 on a "Progress Report" issued to the board on December 16, 1953, said: "We still need 50 additional football players which means we need to transport some 300 men into Tallahassee to get our choice of 50...which means we need $40,000 more (for scholarships and expenses)."
A few months later, in February of '54, board minutes included the appointment of a committee to approach the State Board of Control (now the Regents) about "the equitable distribution of monies for scholarships and race track funds." Evidently, the University of Florida was getting most of this money, as Director Dick Ervin is recorded as saying: "Speaking as an alumnus of UF, it is time for the U of F to help FSU from their underdog stageUF has had its chance for 25 years and the least that can be asked is that FSU be placed on equal scholarship money basis."
Another entry says: "President Rosenberg raised questions regarding a policy of loans to athletes. He stated that he was unwilling to approve such."
It is also recorded that new Head Football Coach Tom Nugent presented "an analysis of the football situation." That spring, Nugent signed a freshman running back out of Jupiter named Buddy Reynolds.
Forty-five years ago, the Boosters used reserved parking at the stadium as a way of raising money and recognizing donors, just as we do today. The early minutes record some initial controversy: "Dr. George Martin brought to the attention of the Club that there has been some criticism from out-of-town visitors about the reserved parking area for the Boosters in front of the stadiumSyde Deeb and President Rosenberg explained that much of this criticism comes from stadium ticket holders, and that this is being corrected through an invitation to each stadium ticket holder to become a member of the Boosters."
By the end of the 1950s, annual contributions totaled around $30,000. In 1960, new Head Football Coach Bill Peterson asked for dressing rooms for the coaches, and a weight facility for the players.
In 1963, the Board of Directors "distributed copies of the NCAA regulations and stressed the importance of adherence." The Club also organized a charter train to the Miami/FSU game. Transportation, tickets, hotel and ground travel to and from the game came to $68 per couple.
The Minutes of a 1964 meeting reflect "much optimism" on Athletic Director Vaughn Mancha's part about getting into the Southeastern Conference. Doak Campbell Stadium had its first expansion, increasing capacity to more than 40,000.
By the end of the 1960s, annual Booster revenues were almost $100,000. The first Ticket Priority plan for season ticket assignments was implemented, and fund-raising was organized for Jacksonville, Marianna, Lake Wales, Live Oak, Thomasville, Panama City and Orlando.
Minutes of a 1969 Board meeting indicate approval of $2,000 to purchase "a motivating machine" requested by Coach Bill Peterson. To this day, no one can be found who quite remembers just what the motivating machine was, and anyone who does isn't talking.
In 1972, the Seminole Boosters dropped their name, and the organization folded in with the Alumni operation to become a combined "National Seminole Club". President of the new club was former football star Kim Hammond, now a judge in Ormond Beach. A year after the Seminole basketball team played UCLA for the national championship game, former hoops star Dave Cowens was National Seminole Club president. The football team went 0-11, but contributions topped $200,000 for the year.
1974 was a year of dramatic changes. The Seminoles began playing at night - a huge hit with the fans. Also, the National Seminole Club experiment ended, and the Seminole Boosters reorganized and prepared for the greatest challenge they'd ever faced.
George Langford was among the Seminole leaders lectured by the Board of Regents' Marshall Criser. Criser warned that FSU was required by law to pay off the Athletic Department's $600,000 debt by the end of the fiscal year. Langford, who served three terms as Booster chairman, and whose son Lawton also served as chairman, said the meeting with Criser was the singular motivating moment in the formation of the Booster organization we know today.
Andy Miller was hired to run the show in 1975, and under his dynamic leadership, Booster contributions will reach a staggering 25-year total of one hundred million dollars by the turn of the Century.
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Copyright @ 1997 Florida State Times