Written by Nic Fraraccio // Photo provided by Jeff Montgomery
Jeff Morgan is the athletic director and former head coach for the Harding men’s basketball team. Morgan announced his retirement from the head coaching position on Feb. 21, four days before the Bisons’ final game of the 2022-23 season.
Q: What did it mean to you being able to share that final moment with your family, team and alumni?
A: It was incredible. … The text messages, phone calls, emails from past players, coaches, people that couldn’t be there, but then to be able to see so many of our former players and to be able to share it with your family … that was really special to be able to share that with them.
Q: Let’s take a look back at your career. Back in 2011, your team finished the season as the 11th ranked team in the nation. What made that team so special and how can Harding reach that level once again?
A: We won some games early that year that we had no business winning … like we were down nine with 30 seconds to go at [the University of] North Alabama and ended up getting that game to overtime and winning the game. There was a real toughness about that team … I think that propelled them with some confidence that just carried out throughout the year.
Q: Let’s skip to 2014, you entered the conference tournament as a five seed and managed to go on and win it. What did it mean to you for your team to enter as an underdog and come out on top?
A: It was just a special kind of January, February and March. Because that team got down to eight players in January … for most of the conference season, we only played with eight guys. All those guys could really handle it, pass it and shoot it. That team became known as the hashtag “Great Eight” because they played the whole year. To go ahead and win a conference tournament, we played lights out. I think we made 41 threes in three games.
Q: How did coaching better you as a man and as a Christian?
A: I think it’s because of the people that the Lord has brought our way in players and fellow coaches. I’m just eternally grateful for the young men and their families that have said, “Yes … we want to be at Harding.” I think all of those people have played a significant part in helping me walk a better walk and encouraging me in my walk with the Lord.
Q: What are your plans for the upcoming school year as you continue to focus your attention on the athletic director position?
A: We have some great coaches. We have some great student athletes that continue to amaze me on how well they do in the classroom … I want to broaden that perspective and try to develop more of that relationship with our student athletes. I know that’ll help me because I can’t sit in this office every day.
Q: What is your final message to the fans and student body?
A: It’s probably one just out of tremendous gratitude and gratefulness … I just hope they know how much we appreciate and we love the fact that they were such a big part of it, from our student body, the faculty and staff and everybody in our Harding community.