Dan Magill

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Daniel Hamilton "Dan" Magill, Jr., longtime Sports Information Director, Head Tennis Coach, and Georgia Bulldog Club secretary for the University of Georgia, is known throughout the state of Georgia and the South for his unparalleled contributions to the Georgia Bulldog athletic program. Magill is also an accomplished tennis player.

Early life, education and family[edit]

Born and raised in Athens, Georgia, Magill's association with the Bulldogs began with his job as bat boy for the baseball team and manager of the tennis courts while in high school. While at the University of Georgia, he competed as a varsity athlete for the tennis team and swim team, volunteered his services as assistant football coach to Harry Mehre and he was a member of Chi Phi Fraternity before entering the Marine Corps during World War II. Magill received his Bachelor of Arts in Journalism (ABJ) from the University's prestigious Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication in 1942.

Magill married the former Rosemary Reynaud of New Orleans and has three children - Ham, Sharon, and Mollie.

Professional career[edit]

Following his time in military service, Magill wrote for the Atlanta Journal, serving as the Prep Sports editor of the newspaper that "Covers Dixie Like the Dew." A natural promoter, Magill built up the Georgia high school all-star football game each year and watched as it drew record crowds. Magill also managed to bring pitchers from the previous year's World Series game (Spud Chandler of the New York Yankees and Whitlow Wyatt of the Brooklyn Dodgers, both former Bulldogs) to manage the teams in a Georgia high school all-star baseball game. It was becoming obvious that Magill was a workhorse that couldn't fail.

His most impressive feats, however, were yet to come. In 1949, Magill returned to Athens to take the job of sports information director for the University. His passion for the Bulldogs was evident as he personally covered every sport on campus with the passion for promotion for which he was known.

In the 1950s, the Bulldog football team was struggling under legendary coach Wally Butts. And as the wins became fewer, so did the number of people in the stands. To help out his alma mater, Magill traveled all over Georgia, setting up Bulldog Clubs along the way. He also founded The Georgia Bulldog newspaper in 1950. Before long, nearly half of Georgia's counties had local chapters of Magill's club, and interest in the Bulldogs soared. Magill would continue to serve as executive secretary of the club for decades and the club continues to thrive today.

As if he didn't already have enough responsibilities, Magill added the title of "coach" to his resume in 1954, taking over as head coach of the struggling Bulldog tennis program. He would keep the title for the next 34 years, building the program into college tennis' most honored with a 706-183 record (most wins by any coach in NCAA history), 13 Southeastern Conference outdoor championships, 8 SEC indoor championships, and 2 national championships. In addition, he built UGA's tennis complex, considered the finest in the country, and brought the ITA Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame to Athens, which was named in his honor. He was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1976.

Controversy[edit]

Magill was also central to a controversy surrounding the 1943 and 1944 football games played between Georgia and Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech soundly defeated Georgia in 1943 by a score of 48-0 and in 1944 by a score of 44-0. Many years after the games were played, Dan Magill ruled that the games should not be counted because the Georgia teams were depleted by World War II and Georgia Tech used players from a nearby U.S. Navy officer training school. On the record books of Georgia the games are not counted, whereas they are counted in the record by Georgia Tech. Georgia still recognizes all other games played by the 1943 and 1944 Bulldog squads, but not the games against Georgia Tech.[1]

Retirement and legacy[edit]

Magill officially retired from the University in 1995, leaving behind a legacy like no other. In his honor, the press box at Georgia's famous Sanford Stadium was named for him and a plaque with his biography is mounted alongside Bulldog greats such as Vince Dooley, Fran Tarkenton, Wally Butts, and Frank Sinkwich, to name a few. His seat assignment in the press box reads, "Dan Magill - Legend."

Uga V, Georgia's mascot from 1990–99, carried the official name of "Uga IV's Magillicuddy II" in honor of Magill. The bulldog was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1997 and was named the best mascot in college sports in the same publication. Uga V had previously garnered national attention when he lunged at Auburn football player Robert Baker in a four-overtime Georgia victory in 1996.

Perhaps one of the greatest testaments to Magill's contribution to the University of Georgia is that today nearly 50 people do the jobs that he once did on his own. His successor as tennis coach, Manuel Diaz has continued the high quality of the tennis program. Magill's passion for the school continues even today as he serves as curator of the Dan Magill ITA Collegiate Hall of Fame and personally gives tours of the complex. He also writes regular columns for the Athens Banner Herald (and provides each sports department staffer with a Claxton fruitcake at Christmas), maintains his health by playing tennis regularly, and is well known for his gardening abilities (he received a commendation from the Garden Club of America).

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