Danny Morrison, current president of the Carolina Panthers professional football team, is from Burlington, N.C. He graduated from Wofford College where he played varsity basketball for the Terriers . He returned to Burlington’s Williams High School, his alma mata, as a math teacher and coach. Soon he was recognized and hired by Dr. Alan White and Bill Morningstar of nearby Elon College (now Elon University). He had three assignments at Elon: 1. Assistant to Athletics Director–Dr. White 2. Assistant Basketball Coach for Coach Morningstar and 3. Men’s Tennis Coach. The latter position is where I learned to know him well and to join those impressed with him.
Highly successful in all three roles, Coach Morrison was soon offered and accepted the Athletics Director’s position at alma mata Wofford. Coincidentally I was hired in similar (no basketball) roles at Elon. Wofford’s program took off under Danny’s leadership. Remember Shawn Graves (who made Sports Illustrated) and Terrier football success? And soon a marriage made in football heaven joined Danny with Mr. Jerry Richardson, owner of the Panther’s and among it’s most notable alumni. In no small part this union brought the Panther’s training camp to the Wofford campus and formed a strong bond between these two men.
During his tenure at Wofford Danny “moonlighted” his way to a Doctorate degree. The school promoted him to Business Manager of the school. About this time there were suggestions he would soon be the next President of Wofford. However, a new opportunity arose and Danny became the Commissioner of the Southern Conference (the SoCon).
Still quite young , his managerial talents created an even better athletics organization in the SoCon and respect for his abilities grew. Elon was the recipient of his aid as it was accepted for membership under his tenure. What a boon for Elon, where people will still tell you of their admiration for and gratitude to Danny. Yet, it wasn’t very long that a new call beckoned: Texas Christian University and their top athletics position. Danny is quite self-effacing. He will give credit to others and tell you how lucky he has been. One might tend to agree when looking back at Danny’s first football game at TCU: The Horned Frogs vs the Sooners of Oklahoma. In Norman, no less. Results: A remarkable win for TCU. And just a beginning. Danny and Peggy loved the whole scene and an unusual number of all TCU’s total teams began to blossom at a surprising rate. Blessed? Pure luck? You tell me, but even now another call. And it was from “home”.
Mr. Richardson needed a new person of trusted and proven ability to serve as President of the Panthers. Enter one Daniel Morrison.
There was a time early on at Elon I was actually upset about Danny. I mentioned his attractive looks and natural pleasant demeanor to his Mom. Anne said “…he doesn’t even know he is good looking”. One of my duties as an administrator at Elon was business dealings that were mostly with female Elon staff workers. On my initial trip with Dr. White to meet these women the most frequent response went something like “HE is taking DANNY’S place”?
I once heard a football coach putting down another coach who had been successful at several different high schools: “He has just been real lucky that in every town he moved to had a great running back there.” Couldn’t help thinking “…yeah 5 or 6 times LUCKY, as I had watched that coach develop several ordinary kids in to great running backs in any town he moved to.
The Panthers have won 8 in a row. Lots of different coaches, players, but the owner and many others remember the recent past. The “luck of Danny Morrison”? I surely don’t know, but sure is fun to watch. And, who knows that the great philosopher POGO wasn’t right when he contended “…well, it did happen during my administration”