New Athletics Director has big shoes to fill

When a well-liked person leaves his or her current position, whether it be a job, a city or this world, people tend to say the same thing:

“It’s not about the numbers or the dollars, but about the lives they touched.”

For Danny Morrison, the numbers are the lives. That is a sign of a great, and hard to replace, athletic director.

From new facilities and winning programs to new heights of success, Morrison put the numbers in place that have changed this university for the better and ushered in the most successful era TCU athletics has ever seen. His impact on Horned Frog sports has been felt by thousands of students in his short time as athletic director.

While administrators search for Morrison’s replacement they would be wise to look to the recent past for examples of how to do the job right.

Eric Hyman, who held the athletic director position from 1997 until April 2005, took great strides to make the athletic department matter again. He brought in Dennis Franchione, who in turn brought along a little-known defensive coordinator named Gary Patterson.

Under Hyman, Franchione and Patterson the Horned Frog football program became nationally known. The team won more games, attracted more fans, and created new opportunities.

And Hyman took his reward, moving on to the athletic director position at South Carolina. Franchione took his, bolting for Alabama. Patterson is still going strong, but the decision gets tougher with each offer.

The university was a house of football when Morrison was hired. Morrison turned the athletic department into a well-rounded, well-funded, successful machine.

Eighty percent of the Horned Frogs’ athletic programs were involved in postseason play last year, and during Morrison’s tenure sponsor donations have poured in. Now he gets to take his big opportunity with the National Football League’s Carolina Panthers.

Hyman was a great builder who cleared the path for success, and Morrison came in and followed that path beyond anyone’s expectations. The university’s athletic department is a national powerhouse, and though many were ultimately involved in making it happen, you have to credit the architects first and foremost.

Hyman and Morrison made Horned Frog sports matter both on Saturdays and on every other day. That will be their legacy in Fort Worth.

The next athletic director’s task will be simple to define, but extremely difficult to accomplish. He or she must continue to grow Horned Frog athletic programs and follow the examples of those who came before. They’ve taken us this far.

Josh Davis is a junior news-editorial journalism major from Dallas.