Going into his fourth season at South Dakota State, head coach Phil McDaniel is in the early stages of remodeling a Jackrabbit program just seven years removed from its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance he helped build.
McDaniel, the Jackrabbits’ 11th head coach, has the foundation of his program coming together despite suffering through growing pains his first three seasons.
Last year, the Jacks finished 5-22, but young players mature and injuries heal. Tiara Gibson earned All-Summit League Freshman honors from a squad that loses just one student-athlete.
Since arriving on campus in 2011, McDaniel has produced two 10-plus win seasons and finished fifth in the Summit League with an 8-8 record in 2012.
With McDaniel at the helm, two Jackrabbits earned first team All-Summit League, two were named to the Summit League All-Freshman Team and eight garnered Summit League Players of the Week accolades.
Academically, McDaniel had 33 student-athletes named to the Summit League Academic Honor Roll and the 2012 Jackrabbits won the Summit League Team Academic Achievement Award.
McDaniel returned to SDSU after three successful years at Drake University, where he reinvigorated a Bulldog program by leading Drake to back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1996.
After taking over a team that won seven games in 2007, the McDaniel-led Bulldogs posted a 12-20 record in his first year, and combined to go 45-23 over the next two seasons, including a pair of Missouri Valley Conference Tournament appearances.
The rebuilding of Drake started in 2008, when Drake posted its highest win total since 1998. It became evident in 2009, when the Bulldogs qualified for their first Missouri Valley Conference Tournament since 1998 on the strength of a 10-8, fourth-place league finish. The 22 wins in 2009 marked the most wins since the 1996 squad posted a 24-4 mark. Three players earned all-conference honors in 2009, the first such honors since 2002.
Drake won 23 games in 2010, and again qualified for the MVC Tournament. The 2010 season also saw a Drake player earn first-team all-conference honors for the first time in over a decade.
In addition to the on court accolades, the Bulldogs also shined under McDaniel's leadership off the court, posting a 3.5 GPA in both the 2008-09 and 2009-10 academic years, with an American Volleyball Coaches Association Team Award selection in 2008-09.
Individually, McDaniel-coached student-athletes earned MVC Scholar Athlete first-team honors three times, along with an honorable mention selection and an ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District VII selection.
An assistant coach at South Dakota State from 2005-07, McDaniel helped the Jackrabbits to a 63-42 overall record, the 2007 Summit League title and the school’s first-ever Division I NCAA Tournament appearance.
During his first tenure with the Jacks, he spearheaded recruiting efforts for the SDSU program and monitored academic progress for the Jackrabbits, who earned the AVCA with Game Plan/AVCA Team Academic Awards in 2005 and 2006.
Prior to joining the Jackrabbits as an assistant in 2005, McDaniel spent three seasons (2002-04) as an assistant coach at New Mexico State. The Aggies posted an 86-15 record, winning the Sun Belt Conference crown in each of his three campaigns while earning berths in the 2003 and 2004 NCAA Tournaments.
In addition to his duties at New Mexico State, McDaniel was head coach of the Diamondback Volleyball Club in Las Cruces.
A Mt. Zion, Ill., native, McDaniel served as head coach at J.H. Rose High School in Greenville, N.C., from 2000-02, directing the school to a 42-7 record and twice earning Big East Conference 4A Coach of the Year honors in both 2000 and 2001. He also served as director of coaches for the East Carolina Junior Volleyball Club.
McDaniel earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Culver-Stockton College in 1996 and a master's degree in counselor education from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in 1998. He competed on both the soccer and tennis teams while at Culver-Stockton.
McDaniel and his wife, Julie, live in Brookings.