Former University of South Carolina Athletics Director Dr. Mike McGee, who led the Gamecock athletics program for 12 years, died Friday peacefully at his home in Montrose, CO.
“I owe so much to Dr. McGee for trusting me to lead his baseball program when he hired me in the summer of 1996,” said current Gamecock Athletics Director Ray Tanner. “I learned so much from him about athletics, administration and life, in general. He’s not only a legendary coach and administrator but a Hall of Fame person as well.”
McGee, 80, came to South Carolina in 1993 from the University of Southern California, where he had served as athletics director 10 years. Prior to his tenure at Southern Cal, McGee was the athletics director at Cincinnati (1980-84) , the head football coach at Duke for eight seasons (1971-78), the head football coach at East Carolina for one season (1970) and served as an assistant coach at Minnesota, Wisconsin and Duke.
McGee was the recipient of the prestigious Homer Rice Award in 2016 from the LEAD1 Association, given each year to a former athletics director who had made a significant and meaningful contribution to intercollegiate athletics.
In 2002, McGee was presented the Order of the Palmetto by then-South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges, recognizing him for his outstanding contributions to the promotion of and achievement in sports in South Carolina.
McGee, a 1960 Duke graduate, was an outstanding football player for the Blue Devils, earning All-America honors and was named the 1959 Atlantic Coast Conference Football Player and ACC Athlete of the Year. He was also the recipient of the 1959 Outland Award, going to the nation’s top lineman. He was inducted into the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 1990.
In 1985, he founded and directed for 17 years, the prestigious Sports Management Institute, the leading in-service training academy for professional staff in intercollegiate athletics.
McGee is survived by his wife of 56 years, Ginger, and together they had four children – Kathy, Michael, Jr., Matthew and Jerry – as well as 19 grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Services and burial for Dr. McGee will be held at Sonrise Mountain Ranch in Cimarron, CO and his hometown of Elizabeth City, NC.
Mike McGee – University of South Carolina Highlights
During Mike McGee’s 12-years of service as the Director of Athletics at the University of South Carolina, the Gamecock program experienced an era of success and accomplishment that was unprecedented in school history. Among the numerous achievements during this period included:
- The Gamecocks emerged as a highly competitive athletics program, across the board, with consistent top 20 national rankings for a majority of its 20 varsity teams. A record 17 teams competed in post-season competition in 2001-02, with 16 teams qualifying in 2002-03 and 15 teams advancing in 2003-04. South Carolina posted its best-ever finish in the Learfield IMG College Director’s Cup in 2002 with an 11th place finish and followed it up with an 18th-place finish in 2003.
- The football team won three straight bowl games, including back-to-back Outback Bowl Championships against Ohio State. Those two victories catapulted the Gamecocks to consecutive Top 20 national finishes, a first in the history of the program.
- McGee hired high-caliber coaches at South Carolina during his tenure. Among his hires at South Carolina included Curtis Frye (track and field), Lou Holtz (football), Ray Tanner (baseball), Dave Odom (men’s basketball) and Steve Spurrier (football). In McGee’s final eight years at South Carolina, 13 Gamecock head coaches earned either national or SEC Coach of the Year awards.
- Athletics department revenues almost tripled during his tenure as athletics director, rising from approximately $18 million when he first came to South Carolina, to $52.8 million for fiscal year 2004.
- The women’s track team won the school’s first-ever national team championship, claiming the 2002 NCAA Outdoor title.
- In 2000, for the first time in the history of the Southeastern Conference, South Carolina had three of its athletes named National Athlete of the Year in their respective sports: Kip Bouknight (baseball); Terrence Trammell (men’s indoor and outdoor track); and Miki Barber (women’s outdoor track).
- South Carolina won nine SEC team championships, including baseball (3), women’s outdoor track (3), men’s basketball (1), softball (1), and women’s golf (1).
- McGee oversaw more than $110 million in facility improvements at Carolina, including the 18,000-seat Colonial Center (now Colonial Life Arena) and major improvements and additions to Williams-Brice Stadium.
- McGee was a leader in addressing gender equity progress, as Carolina added two women’s sports (soccer, equestrian), upgraded Olympic sports facilities and provided for major increases in budget and additional staff under his direction.
- McGee served for the SEC on the NCAA Management Council, a position he also held for the PAC-10 Conference when he was the athletics director at Southern California.
- McGee served on the SEC Task Force Committee for Compliance and Enforcement.
- McGee served as a member on the NCAA Academic Reform Committee on Incentives and Disincentives.
- McGee was a vice-chairman of the board for the Columbia Urban League