From 1958 to 1980, Donald C. “Danny” Danielson served on the Indiana University Board of Trustees. When he passed in 2015, it was noted that his tenure on the board was the longest in the school’s history.
Danielson spent the first nine years of his tenure on the board trying to get the structure we know today as Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall approved for construction.
When he recommended the approval of the contracts for the construction of Assembly Hall to the board, IU President Elvis Stahr envisioned a structure that would be utilized by students well into the future.
“Students for the next half century would benefit from its presence on the campus,” Stahr told the board.
Of course Danielson had no idea at the time that his great nephew could be one of the players that the students would come to watch more than a half century later.
On September 22, 1967, Danielson and his fellow board members unanimously approved the contracts for the construction of Assembly Hall.
The push by Danielson to get Assembly Hall approved likely had origins in his own athletic prowess in Bloomington.
Danielson was raised in Minnesota and South Dakota before becoming the first person in his family to attend college, coming to IU on a baseball scholarship.
He graduated in 1942 and was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Instead of playing professional baseball, Danielson served in both the Pacific and Atlantic theaters of World War II until 1946, when he was honorably discharged with the rank of lieutenant, senior grade.
When the war ended, the Dodgers once again invited Danielson to report to training camp with their AAA team – coincidentally, the same year Jackie Robinson joined the Dodgers’ AAA team, at the same position as Danielson.
He decided instead to return to IU for a job at the Alumni Association. While there, he served a one-year stint as interim head baseball coach.
Class of 2023 forward Gus Yalden can in part look to his great uncle, Donald Danielson, for his athletic abilities.
6-foot-10 and 240 pounds entering his sophomore season of high school, Yalden already has Division One offers from Rutgers, Utah and Cal State Northridge.
Although he grew up in Wisconsin and attends high school in North Carolina, Yalden was raised with an appreciation for IU. All three of Danielson’s daughters went to IU, and the affection for the school has been passed down through the generations.
“When I first started getting into basketball it was the Cody Zeller and Yogi Ferrell era,” Yalden told The Daily Hoosier.
Yalden admits that growing up in Wisconsin put the Badgers on top from a fan perspective, but “Indiana is a really close second,” he added.
Indiana assistant coach Mike Roberts has been talking to Yalden and his parents, and if it wasn’t for the pandemic things would have likely progressed further by now.
“He really likes how I play and would like to come see me this summer or fall,” Yalden said of Roberts’ message to him.
For AAU Yalden plays for Team Griffin on the Nike EYBL circuit. He describes his game as a modern, versatile forward.
“I play the stretch four. I can run the floor as a four. Play a little bit around the rim. I have a really nice touch and a really nice shot. I can handle the ball and have good court vision,” Yalden said.
Still just going into his sophomore season, Yalden has a long way to go in his recruitment.
But growing up in the Midwest, he knows which conference stands out.
“I definitely like the Big Ten,” Yalden said.
His great uncle would have been proud of that.
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