F. Don Miller, who helped the U.S. Olympic Committee emerge from the turmoil of Cold War confrontation to become a multimillion-dollar sports giant, died Wednesday night. He was 75.
Miller, a leader of the U.S. Olympic movement for three decades and executive director of the USOC from 1973 to '84, died after a long battle with cancer.
He joined the USOC in 1969 as national director of fund-raising after a 27-year career in the Army. After 12 years as the USOC's executive director, Miller became president of the U.S. Olympic Foundation, a fund-raising organization he headed until his death.
That foundation started with $111 million, part of the surplus left from the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. Last year, the foundation's assets totaled more than $200 million, after a decade of sports grants totaling some $65 million.
Miller's legacy with the USOC and the international Olympic community is much broader than that financial windfall, some of his closest friends said.
"He was one person who was a stabilizing force, and who you knew was going to do something in the best interest of the Olympic movement and the USOC," said LeRoy T. Walker, the committee's president.
Miller received the Olympic Order, the highest honor given by the International Olympic Committee, and was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.
"This man was a lot of things," said William Simon, former U.S. treasury secretary and USOC president, who was at Miller's side through much of his tenure as executive director and foundation chief. "He was a visionary, and he also was a doer. You don't get that combination very often.
"His integrity was legend. He loved the Olympics like he loved his family. He understood sports. He's going to be missed. He had a hell of a ride."
As executive director, Miller oversaw the movement of USOC headquarters from New York to Colorado Springs, helped organize the National Sports Festival and introduced a sports medicine program for U.S. athletes.