Introducing The Hockey Writers’ Countdown to Puck Drop series. From now until the puck drops on the 2019-20 NHL’s regular season on Oct. 2 when the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Ottawa Senators, we’ll be producing content that’s connected to the number of days remaining on that particular day. Some posts may be associated with a player’s number, while others will be connected to a year or length of time. We’re really excited about this series as we take you through the remainder of summer in anticipation of the return of NHL hockey.
It’s Day 67, and today we’ll be taking a look at the life and legacy of the Vegas Golden Knights’ founder and owner – Bill Foley. 67 is a significant number when talking about Bill Foley as the distinguished billionaire graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1967.
Now the second West Point graduate to own an NHL franchise (Vincent Viola, owner of the Florida Panthers, is a 1977 West Point grad), Foley is somewhat of a renaissance man. Foley has found success throughout a variety of industries over the course of his career, but there seems to be one commonality – the foundation of leadership skills he acquired while a cadet at West Point.
Foley’s Early Career
The West Point Class of 1967’s motto is “None Shall Surpass ’67 Class,” and upon graduation, Bill Foley wasted no time in turning that motto into reality. Foley cross-commissioned into the US Air Force where he was in charge of negotiating contracts with Boeing. While still in the military, Foley earned his MBA from Seattle University in 1970.
Foley resigned from military service just one year later, attaining the rank of Captain. He then earned a law degree from the University of Washington in 1974 and immediately began practicing law as a corporate attorney. He was eventually named Chairman, CEO, and President of Fidelity National Financial, Inc. in 1984, and continues to serve as Executive Chairman to this day.
While Foley credits his West Point education and experience as instrumental to his success, he has also truly embodied the mission statement of his beloved alma mater.
“To educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the Nation as an officer in the United States Army.”Mission of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point
From Black Knight to Golden Knight
After several decades of success in the business world, Bill Foley decided to bring professional sports to Las Vegas with the NHL’s 31st team – the Vegas Golden Knights. Once again, he drew a great deal of inspiration from West Point. Dubbed the “Black Knights,” Army West Point athletes sport black, gray, and gold as their primary colors.
Even the name and logo of the Black Knights and Golden Knights bear some resemblance. Foley’s decision to go with “Golden Knights” even landed the organization in a trademark dispute with the US Army’s Golden Knights parachute team, which lasted several months.
Bill Foley has planted a flag in Las Vegas, where the Golden Knights have established themselves both as a legitimate contender in the NHL as well as a part of Vegas’ vibrant community.
Leaving a Legacy
Foley has certainly made sure that the ’67 Class will be quite difficult to surpass. Even with numerous business and professional accolades, Foley has always made sure to give back. In fact, two athletic facilities at West Point bear his name – the Foley Athletic Center and the new Foley- Enners- Nathe Lacrosse Center.
The Foley Family Foundation, the Folded Flag Foundation, and the Rock Creek Cattle Company are just a few of the ways Foley gives back, and in 2016 he was recognized by the US Military Academy as one of its Distinguished Graduate Award recipients.
Foley and the Golden Knights are leaving a legacy in Las Vegas. With an electrifying group of talented players like Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, and Nate Schmidt, the Golden Knights are sure to keep drawing in fans for many years to come. And the team’s involvement in the local community only further solidifies their place in Vegas culture.
It’s only a matter of time before the foundation that Foley has laid leads to success for the Golden Knights, as it has in any of his endeavors since leaving West Point. In the meantime, there are only Bill Foley days, 67, until the puck drops to begin the 2019-20 season.
Former Army officer and Army ACHA D2 hockey player.
Husband and father of 3.