Dan Magill, described by many as the greatest Georgia Bulldog of all time, died Saturday night in Athens at the age of 93.
An Athens native, Magill began his 60-year association with University of Georgia athletics as a baseball batboy in the 1930¹s and continued in numerous roles until his retirement in 1995.
Magill had no peer as an innovator and promoter, and is known nationally for building over time the country¹s finest collegiate tennis facility University, the Athletic Association, and perhaps most of all to the Georgia
people have been great and many.
“I don’t know of anyone who contributed more to our program through his time, his commitment, his life,” said former UGA athletic director and head football coach Vince Dooley. “He, more than anyone else, has always
been the true Bulldog spirit of the Georgia people.”
Magill retired as tennis coach following the 1988 season after leading the tennis Bulldogs for 34 years and becoming one of the most influential men in the history of collegiate tennis.
He remained on the Georgia athletic staff through 1995 as Director of Men’s and Women’s Tennis as well as Assistant Athletic Director for Public Relations and the Georgia Bulldog Clubs. During his long tenure with
the University, he also served 27 years as sports information director and 25 years as secretary of the Georgia Bulldog Club, which he founded in 1953.
His time as sports information director is well documented and he was known as one of the country’s greatest team publicists. In recognition of his long tenure as sports information director, the press box at Georgia’s Sanford Stadium was named in honor of Dan Magill during a ceremony prior to the Oct. 23, 1999, game between the Bulldogs and Kentucky. A marker was unveiled inside the press box for Magill, who served as Sports Information Director from 1949-1977.
In 1996, Magill was inducted into the UGA Circle of Honor — the highest honor for former coaches and athletes at Georgia — and was a recipient of the 1994 Bill Hartman Award which goes annually to a former athlete or coach who has made a significant impact in his chosen career. He’s also a member of the National Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame, State of Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, and Southern Tennis Hall of Fame.
As a tennis coach, his brilliant 34-year record at Georgia was a staggering 706-183 making him the all-time winningest coach in NCAA Division I history at the time. His team won a record 13 Southeastern Conference
outdoor championships and eight indoor league titles. He won two NCAA national championships in 1985 and ’87. His 1985 Bulldogs performed the unmatched “hat trick” No. 1 in individual singles (Mikael Pernfors), and No. 1 in doubles (Mikael Pernfors and Allen Miller).
His players won five national collegiate individual championships: Pernfors, NCAA national singles champion, 1984 and ’85, and Volvo All-America singles champion in ’84; Allen Miller and Ola Malmqvist, ITCA indoor doubles in ’82 and NCAA national doubles champions in ’83.
Magill has been the recipient of both the NCAA National Coach of the Year and the J.D. Morgan Awards college coach can receive.
He is also responsible for bringing the NCAA national men’s tennis championships to Athens 25 times including 13 in a row from 1977-89. He developed the Georgia tennis complex into the finest on-campus tennis facility in the country which includes 12 outdoor courts, four indoor, and grandstand and private box seating for 3,000. He also spearheaded the move to locate the Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame facility on the Georgia campus which was financed by country music singer Kenny Rogers who lived near Athens at the time. For his efforts, the entire facility was officially named the “Dan Magill Tennis Complex” in 1993.
While in college and managing Georgia¹s tennis courts in the summer, Magill originated the Crackerland Championship which developed into one of the South’s largest sectional tournaments. He also instituted the
State Collegiate Championships, Southern Collegiate Championships, and SEC Coaches Indoor Championships.
He is survived by his wife, Rosemarie Reynaud Magill and three children: Hamilton III and daughters Shannon and Mollie. A private funeral will be held Thursday, August 28, at 10:00 a.m. A celebration of Magill’s life is scheduled for noon Thursday at the Athens Country Club.
On Dan Magill: Comments through the years from those who knew him
“I’ve been in college athletics for over 57 years…as a player and coach, and I have met some fine people who have been great for college athletics, but none greater than Dan Magill. I’ll tell you how strong he was…he took an average student like me and promoted me where I was named Academic All-America! That’s something.”
— Pat Dye, former UGA All-American and head coach at Auburn
“He was a straight shooter and wanted to promote the University of Georgia teams and players to receive the maximum recognition and publicity. I think we all agree he was a great character, always full of humor and goodwill. Nobody loves Georgia more than Dan Magill.”
— Zippy Morocco, former Georgia multi-sport athlete
“When I first got to Georgia, I was introduced to Coach Magill as Georgia’s greatest fan, and now that I have been around him for all those years, I realize that is so true. Additionally, he is both an unforgettable and lovable character. He named me the General and that nickname worked out in my favor. A lot of us probably got to know his wife before we knew him. She taught freshman English. She was a very good teacher. When I came through Georgia, all the athletes knew Mrs. Magill the teacher and Coach Magill, Mr. Everything in Bulldog athletics.”
— George Patton, former UGA All-American football player
“You could use all the positive adjectives in the dictionary when you talk about Dan Magill. You begin with the work ethic. Nobody worked harder at his job. Also you always admired his enthusiasm and his humor, but the thing that set him apart was his wonderful feelings of loyalty to the University of Georgia. You felt good as soon as you walked into his office. He would greet you with a nice quip or comment and before you knew it, he would be talking about something or somebody significant. Whenever I was with Dan, I always left with the feeling that I had learned something new.”
— Zeke Bratkowski, former UGA QB
“My senior year, near the end of the season, I bumped into him and he said, ‘I’ve been looking for you. You just won the Outland Award.’ I smiled and said, ‘Thanks Coach Magill, but what is the Outland Award?’ I had no idea. All I know is that he had a lot to do with my being honored. Just like it was with all of our athletes at Georgia. The thing I remember is that he was always busy doing a lot of different things, and he was good at all of them. To do all the other things like writing and running the Bulldog Clubs while coaching the tennis team to championships tells you just how great he was.”
— Bill Stanfill, former UGA All-America DT and Outland Trophy winner
“In 1946, Dan held the chains on the sideline for football games. You make a run and you look over and you see Dan running right along beside you. I have often thought how wonderful it would have been if Dan had been a football player. Nobody would have worn the Georgia uniform more proudly. His name is just like the “G.” He is one of the biggest symbols of Georgia athletics. What I have enjoyed so much about him over the years, has been his sense of humor. When I retired from pro football and began coaching at Georgia, I always enjoyed dropping by his office for conversation. Georgia was so important to Dan, and he responded by giving his heart and soul to the University.”
— Charley Trippi, former UGA All-American HB
“First thing I remember about Dan Magill came when I was in high school. He was the first promoter I ever knew. He promoted Georgia when there was not much promotion going on. He looked me up in high school and showed an interest in my fondness for tennis. I played in the Cracklerland tennis tournament when I wasn’t very good. He made tennis something special and that is confirmed by what Georgia tennis became. We became a tennis mecca because of him and his promotional ability. His undying objective was to promote the University of Georgia and the city of Athens–out of pure love. When I saw him a couple of years ago, he talked about playing tennis at his age and getting into arguments with his opponents. The biggest problem, he told me, is that we can’t remember the score!”
— Fran Tarkenton, former UGA All-America QB
“I’ve had the great privilege of knowing Dan for over 44 years. He has done more to promote college tennis than anyone in the country, and is clearly one of the very best coaches in the history of the game. He will always be known for his sense of humor and story-telling prowess. I was coaching at South Carolina many years ago when I had one of my early encounters with Dan. He yelled out to Wes Cash, “Hit those overheads over the fence, Wes! I’ll go get ‘em!” I knew then that he was a great coach.
— Ron Smarr, former head tennis coach, South Carolina, Colorado, Rice University
“What I appreciate about the multi-faceted and incomparable Dan Magill is his enduring passion for the varied interests which have defined and consumed his life and career–writer, publicist, coach, humorist, promoter and historian. Above all, he is the quintessential Bulldog loyalist. Confirmation of his consummate loyalty is graphically confirmed by his retirement from coaching. After coaching Georgia tennis for 34 years and taking the Bulldogs to the summit of collegiate tennis, he stepped aside so Manuel Diaz could become the head coach. While Dan would have enjoyed coaching longer, he knew that Manuel would likely be stolen away to coach at another school if he waited too long. He wanted Manuel to coach at Georgia. This defining moment–all feelings and personal interests are subordinated to the best interests of the University of Georgia–to me, substantiates that the University of Georgia has never had a greater loyalist.”
— Loran Smith, UGA Athletic Assn. and former Magill assistant
“Dan was the greatest standard bearer for the Georgia people of all time. The Bulldog Nation in many, many ways was built on his shoulders. The greatest and grandest Bulldog of them all.”
— Claude Felton, UGA Sports Communications Director
“Coach Magill is an absolute legend and in my mind the greatest Georgia Bulldog ever. What he has done over his years is unmatched and his impact on this school has been so big words cannot even describe. To me personally, Coach Magill was a great friend. I talked to him two or three times a week and always spoke to him after my matches. He was truly one of my biggest fans and that is so humbling.”
— John Isner, former UGA All-America tennis player
“Dan served as a mentor and friend to me and to so many others over the years. I am not very smart, but I am smart enough to know whom I should stay close to in order to learn the most. From the day I first met Coach Magill in 1967 as a young coach starting out, I rightly judged that he was one of those special people. All of us in college tennis, let alone almost everyone in the tennis world and especially at the University of Georgia in general, have been privileged to have been able to call him a friend. He made us better. In tennis, he showed us how to be great and classy competitors, how to honor the game and our opponents, to never stand still and yet to not take ourselves too seriously.”
— Dick Gould, former Stanford head tennis coach
“On my first day on campus as the new head coach at UGA you can imagine the many different duties expected of me -interviews with print media and radio and tv-meeting with staff members and getting ready to go on the road recruiting. Coach Magill knew of my tennis background and insisted on me taking a tour of The College Tennis Hall of Fame. I explained all the things I had on my plate and he said I could do those later – so my first duty as coach here was to tour it with him! Since that first day we formed a wonderful friendship and I grew to love and respect this man who has touched so many lives over his remarkable life. He is the embodiment of loyalty and commands respect on an international level with his contributions to tennis. His service to UGA will never be matched in terms of so many duties and tremendous results. His competitiveness sets him apart from the pack and his quick wit and ability to spin a story from the past never ceases to amaze me. His love for Georgia is overwhelming but his family of ex players, coaches and friends receive his lifelong attention. He always will be MR. BULLDOG!”
— Jim Donnan, former head football coach, UGA
“Growing up in South Carolina, we knew about Gen. Francis Marion who was named the ‘Swamp Fox.’ We knew about him and his military success in the Revolutionary war before we knew who was President. One day when I was playing at Georgia, Dan asked me to come by his office. He asked if I were named for the general, Francis Marion. I immediately exclaimed, ‘No, no.’ Dan said, ‘Well, you WILL be when you see the afternoon paper.’ That is how I became known as the Swamp Fox at Georgia. I probably have as many people, maybe more, calling me ‘Swamp Fox’ today as I do Marion. The nickname helped me develop an identity so I owe Dan for giving me a great nickname. I have always appreciated that.
— Marion Campbell
Thank you for giving us Athens boys a chance to play.
Thank you for helping us to learn
To play percentage tennis,
To allow a margin of error,
To win graciously, to lose graciously, and to always give our best,
To always give our opponents the benefit of the doubt,
That running is the most fun part of playing,
That one can run a topflight tennis program with no salary and no budget, and that much hard work, much good coaching, and much good will will suffice,
That good will is far more important than a good win,
That in a team is strength,
That to play with a sense of humor makes the game much more fun for all,
That one can enjoy competing in sports at a high level throughout life,
That family, friends and fitness are all far more important than wealth,
That a good story, well-told, is a treasure, and
That the joy of the game is the play.
Thank you, Coach, for setting such a good example for us all, and
Thank you most of all for still being our Coach!
— Danny Birchmore, former UGA All-America tennis player, on coach Magill’s 90th birthday
“The University has lost the greatest Bulldog of all time. The entire UGA
family mourns his loss. He was a mentor to numerous people, including
myself, and touched the lives of so many. He was the best at everything he
did in his roles as a legendary tennis coach, sports information director,
and Bulldog Club founder. Mr. Magill was the consummate professional who was loved by everyone. On a personal note, he was one of my best friends over our 49-year relationship during which I found him to be both memorable and remarkable. I’ll miss my good friend.”
— J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity
“Dan Magill is a Georgia legend whose involvement with the University of
Georgia spanned many decades. From his days as a student-athlete to his
time as sports information director and national championship tennis coach and beyond, he was the consummate champion of the Georgia athletic program and had a positive impact on the lives of many individuals. I join all Bulldogs in mourning his passing.”
— UGA President Jere W. Morehead
Courtesy of UGA Sports Communications