J.D. Morgan: UCLA partriarch an Oklahoman
UCLA plays South Carolina in the College World Series championship series beginning tonight in Omaha, Neb., and the Bruins have won a national-best 106 NCAA team championships.
Thirty of those NCAA titles came in the 16-year period during which J.D. Morgan was athletic director, 1963-79.
Morgan was an Oklahoman. He was born in Newcastle and went to high school in Cordell, where he played football, baseball, basketball and tennis. He was a tennis star and went to UCLA in the late 1930s on a scholarship. He was UCLA’s tennis captain in 1941.
After serving in World War II, Morgan returned to UCLA as assistant tennis coach, then became head coach in 1949. He coached the Bruins to eight NCAA titles, including one, 1965, after he became athletic director. Among Morgan’s recruits were Arthur Ashe.
During Morgan’s tenure as AD, UCLA won NCAA in men’s basketball (10), men’s volleyball (seven), men’s tennis (six), men’s track (four) and men’s water polo (three). The NCAA did not sponsor women’s championships until 1982. Thirty-five of UCLA’s 106 team titles have been won by women’s teams, which means UCLA has won 71 men’s championships. Thirty came in the 16 years Morgan directed UCLA athletics.
Jack Herron, a former Henry Iba player at Oklahoma A&M, befriended John Wooden in the 1970s. I wrote about the Herron/Wooden relationship earlier this month, upon the death of Wooden. Herron also became friends with Morgan.
“I sat next to him at a banquet one time and he made an effort to be friend me because he was from Oklahoma,” Herron said.
“He jump-started the UCLA athletic dynasty. He used to sit on the UCLA bench with Coach Wooden. Many pictures of the bench show J. D. right there with Mr. Wooden. He (Morgan) became known for being hard on basketball officials. Thus resulted a rule banning ADs from sitting on benches with teams.
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