CHARLOTTE – Recently, at a downtown hotel, a ceremony was held to recognize a segment of the NASCAR racing industry that has attracted such recognizable stock car personalities as Joe Gibbs, a football coach-turned-owner a car, and Darrell Waltrip, a former driver.
There were a number of autograph collectors who met them, with pen and paper, when a tall, smiling businessman casually passed their corner of the lobby without a fuss about his presence.
Although John Mangan may not catch the eye of NASCAR fans, he has a resume that is turning heads, especially those familiar with the history of University of Georgia tennis under Dan Magill and who know a former passionate student who can’t do enough for his alma mater.
Mangan’s story is one that champions “alma mater love” at the highest level. He was an unlikely candidate for listing 848 miles south of his home in Rye, NY, just 30 miles north of Manhattan, except that Magill’s daughter prompted him to consider s enroll in Athens.
The coach sent the prospect a plane ticket that introduced Mangan to a vibrant new part of the country and a man who was a colorful character with a deep and abiding love for his favorite institution. Dan Magill couldn’t do enough for the University of Georgia and inspired his legion of tennis players to emphasize loyalty to UGA when their playing days were over.
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Magill sent a student with a stunning beauty to pick up Mangan at the airport. It would be a day of unforgettable experiences for the future student-athlete. His pretty driver was instructed to drop him off at Add Drugs, the city’s Five Points neighborhood pharmacy with an iconic lunch counter.
The carriage, shall we say, was not a fashionable dresser. He was first and foremost a sweatshirt/sweatpants enthusiast. Or he could greet a visitor in red pants, pink shirt and blue jacket or any combination that didn’t reflect gold, yellow or orange. Mangan found him wearing a jumpsuit of the latter.
Without discussing the menu with his future player, Magill ordered two pimento cheese sandwiches and two cokes. Mangan didn’t know what a chilli sandwich was. The coach dispelled the prospect’s bewilderment over his lunch by saying, “Son, you’ll get used to it.”
The afternoon quickly ignited with excitement. Mangan sat next to the man who would become his mentor for all things Georgia and watched the Bulldogs defeat South Carolina and Duke on a sunny afternoon.
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The buzz of an adoring student body, the decor and the colorful coach made Mangan smitten to the point that when he returned home, he told his parents he would continue to play tennis in Georgia. , which meant he would give offers to play with scholarships elsewhere.
Being the eldest of six children, Mangan’s decision was not good news for his parents, but after traveling to Athens, touring the campus and meeting the dynamic coach, they too fell in love.
“The decision to continue at Georgia turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made,” Mangan said. He received a scholarship for his second year and quickly enjoyed the benefits of a “full ride”.
Today, he pursues an exalted business career in the fund management and securities industry where he enjoyed great success for over three decades, always allocating time to the University of Georgia.
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He sits on the board of directors of the UGA Foundation and is chairman of the investment committee which has experienced record growth during his tenure as chairman. A distinguished alumnus of Terry College of Business, the big moments in his life come when he shows up in Athens for a Bulldog tennis game in the spring or a football game in the fall between the hurdles. “I get excited,” he says, “every time I walk around campus.”
Charlotte, he points out, attracts more UGA graduates than any location outside the state of Georgia, and notes that with the great patronage of Bulldog fans, the Georgia-Clemson game on the weekend Labor Day’s last weekend “was the biggest economic event from a sporting perspective in the history of the city of Charlotte.
John Mangan’s Bulldog pride and love of the alma mater is exceptional, which should come as no surprise. He was and is the beneficiary of the influence of the “Magillian Doctrine”, which for many Bulldog supporters is comforting and special.