Carolina Panthers  

 

Richardson hires TCU athletic director Morrison as Panthers' president

  • By Associated Press
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson moved quickly to replace his son as team president Wednesday, hiring Texas Christian University athletic director Danny Morrison.

One day after the surprise resignations of Mark Richardson and his brother, Jon, who ran Bank of America Stadium, their 73-year-old father gave a major front-office job to someone outside the family for the first time in a decade.

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As Richardson continues to recover from a February heart transplant, Morrison, a longtime Richardson associate, will take over the team's day-to-day business operations. Morrison said he'll begin his new job by the end of the month.

The 55-year-old Morrison's first involvement with the Panthers came in the team's first season in 1995, when he was AD at Wofford College, Richardson's alma mater and the site of Carolina's training camp. Morrison later became commissioner of the Southern Conference before going to TCU in 2005.

"We are very familiar with Danny and he is very familiar with our organization," Richardson said in a statement. "He has been successful as a college administrator and commissioner and brings a business expertise and sense of community that fits the position perfectly."

The rapid moves come as Richardson has regained an active role after months of reduced activity due to congestive heart failure, then recovery from the transplant surgery on Feb. 1.

"When I talked with him, he sounded just like he always has," Morrison said in a phone interview. "He was fired up about excellence and highly motivated to have a superb team."

While Jon Richardson told employees a month ago he was stepping down, Mark Richardson's exit was surprising because he was seen as his father's heir apparent. He took over the job as president in 1998 after Mike McCormack retired.

Neither man has publicly said whether a family rift led to the moves.

Morrison said Richardson first called him last weekend and told him he had an "extraordinary opportunity, but I can't really elaborate right now."

After speaking again with Richardson early in the week, Morrison was "surprised" to learn it was the job of president.

"The first question I asked Mr. Richardson is, 'You do know I don't have any NFL experience?'" Morrison said. "He said, 'I'm not worried about that.'"

Morrison, who said he believed he would retire at TCU, accepted the job after speaking with school officials. He said the school will conduct a national search for his replacement.

"The people here are great, so I want to make sure we tie up the loose ends," Morrison said.

Morrison will soon report to the demanding Richardson, the first ex-NFL player since Chicago's George Halas to own an NFL team. Richardson was a teammate of Johnny Unitas on the 1959 Baltimore Colts team that won the NFL championship.

A native of Burlington, N.C., Morrison played basketball at Wofford, where he first met Richardson. Morrison then coached at Elon before moving up the athletic administration ranks after getting graduate degrees from North Carolina and South Carolina.

Now Morrison takes over for a team no longer dominated in the front office by Richardsons.

"I've known Jon and Mark for a long time," Morrison said. "When I was playing basketball at Wofford, they were high school students at Spartanburg (S.C.) High School. I have the utmost respect for both of them. They were incredibly supportive of us at Wofford when we were putting the pieces together for the training camp. I think highly of both of them."

"As soon as we get to Charlotte, we'll hit the ground running and learn as much as we possibly can in as quick a time period as we can."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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