CHARLOTTE – At a downtown hotel here recently, there was a function taking place to recognize a segment of the NASCAR racing industry that attracted recognizable stock car personalities such as Joe Gibbs, a football coach turned car owner, and Darrell Waltrip, a former driver.
There were a number of autograph collectors who met up with them, with pen and paper when a tall, smiling businessman casually walked past their corner of the lobby without any fuss being made over his presence.
While John Mangan wouldn’t draw the attention of NASCAR fans, he has a resume to turn heads, particularly those who know the history of University of Georgia tennis under Dan Magill and who are familiar with a doting alumnus who can’t do enough for his alma mater.
Mangan’s story is one that champions “love of alma mater” to the highest level. He was an unlikely candidate for enrollment 848 miles south of his home in Rye, N. Y., which is just 30 miles north of Manhattan, except for the fact that Magill’s daughter influenced him to consider matriculating in Athens.
The coach sent the prospect a plane ticket which introduced Mangan to a new and vibrant part of the country and a man who was a colorful character with a deep and abiding love of his favorite institution. Dan Magill could not do enough for the University of Georgia and inspired his legion of tennis players to underscore loyalty to UGA when their playing days were over.
Magill sent a coed with smashing good looks to pick Mangan up at the airport. It would be a day of unforgettable experiences for the prospective student-athlete. His pretty driver had instructions to drop him off at Add Drugs, the drug store in the Five Points section of town with an iconic lunch counter.
The coach, shall we say, was not a fashionable dresser. He was primarily a sweatshirt/sweatpants aficionado. Or he might greet a visitor in red pants, pink shirt, and blue sport coat or any combination that did not reflect gold, yellow, or orange. Mangan found him wearing a combination of the latter.
Without discussing the menu with his prospective player, Magill ordered two pimento cheese sandwiches and two Cokes. Mangan didn’t know what a pimento cheese sandwich was. The coach disposed of the prospect’s puzzlement about his lunch by saying, “Son you are gonna get used to it.”
The afternoon was soon elevated with excitement. Mangan sat by the man who would become his mentor regarding all things Georgia and watched the Bulldogs defeat South Carolina and Duke on a sun-splashed afternoon. The buzz of an adoring student body, the setting, and the colorful coach caused Mangan to become smitten to the extent that when he returned home, he told his parents that he would be walking on to play tennis at Georgia, which meant he would be giving up offers to play with scholarship aid elsewhere.
Being the oldest of six kids, Mangan’s decision was not good news for his parents, but after they journeyed to Athens, toured the campus, and met the dynamic coach, they became smitten, too.
“The decision to walk on at Georgia, turned out to be the best decision I ever made,” Mangan says. He was given scholarship aid his second year and soon enjoyed the benefits of a “full ride.”
Today, he continues an exalted business career in money management and the securities industry where he has been ultra-successful for over three decades, always allocating time for the University of Georgia.
He serves on the UGA Foundation Board of Trustees and is Chairman of the Investment Committee which has experienced record growth during his time as chair. A distinguished alumnus of the Terry College of Business, the high times in his life come about when he shows up in Athens for a Bulldog tennis match in the spring or a fall football game between the hedges. “I get excited,” he says, “anytime I walk the campus.”
Charlotte, he points out, attracts more UGA graduates than any place outside the state of Georgia and notes that with the great patronage by Bulldog fans, the Georgia-Clemson game last Labor Day weekend “was the largest economic event from a sports perspective in the city of Charlotte’s history.”
John Mangan’s Bulldog pride and his love of his alma mater are exceptional which should come as no surprise. He was and is the beneficiary of the influence of the “Magillian doctrine,” which for many Bulldog partisans, is heartwarming and special.