After 40 years of service to Wofford College, the past 23 as director of athletics, Richard Johnson has announced his retirement. He will step down at the end of a successful search for his replacement. The national search for Johnson’s replacement will begin this month and will be conducted by Daniel Parker, vice president and managing director of Parker Executive Search based in Atlanta (parkersearch.com).
“Richard Johnson has made an incredible impact on our college by influencing the growth and development of decades of student-athletes and coaches. Most recently he has helped the college navigate a complicated and changing NCAA Division I landscape, and through it all, he has always understood Wofford’s commitment to the student-athlete model,” says Wofford President Nayef Samhat. “I am grateful for his commitment to our college. Just as he has been for the past four decades, I know he will always be a source of support and encouragement.”
Johnson had planned to retire at the end of the 2022-23 academic year, but several head coaching transitions kept him at the helm of the college’s athletics program with a plan to retire Dec. 31, 2023. He, however, feels that the timing is right now.
“I am confident that our coaches, student-athletes and programs are poised for continued success, and with a new capital campaign in the planning phase, I believe it is best for new athletics leadership to be part of that process,” says Johnson.
Johnson holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Citadel. He came to Wofford after serving nine years as a basketball assistant at his alma mater under his mentor Les Robinson. In 17 years as head basketball coach at Wofford (1985-2002), Johnson had a 100 percent graduation rate for all players who completed their eligibility. He was the runner-up for SoCon Coach of the Year honors twice in the Terriers’ first five seasons of league play. His 200th win was a 79-74 victory at Clemson University during the 1999-00 campaign. During his Wofford coaching tenure, Johnson guided the Terriers from NAIA membership to NCAA Division II in 1988, Division I status in 1995 and the Southern Conference in 1997.
Over the past two decades as director of athletics, he has been a force behind the development of several facility projects. Russell C. King Field and Switzer Stadium returned baseball to campus in 2003. The Richardson Physical Activities Building was renovated in 2008 and 2018, and the Joe E. Taylor Athletic Building was completed in 2009. In 2017, Wofford completed the Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium, including a 3,500-seat basketball arena. Jerome Johnson Richardson Hall opened in 2020 with 150 beds for first-year students on the second and third floors above locker room space for baseball and softball, along with an indoor practice space for golf. A new softball field and renovations to Snyder Field were completed in 2022, and the Reeves Tennis Center is currently undergoing a major renovation.
Johnson, with the support of generous alumni, has been responsible for the growth of the athletics endowment to a current level of over $45 million, with a long-term goal of endowing all scholarships in the department. He recently concluded service on the NCAA’s Division I Football Championship Committee and the FCS ADA Executive Committee, while also serving on the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Rules Committee. In 2015 and 2021, he was named FCS Athletic Director of the Year by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.
“I am especially grateful for my wife, Carol, and my family. I look forward to spending a lot more time with them, even as I continue my unwavering commitment to Wofford athletics,” says Johnson. “Wofford is in a terrific place, and it’s positioned for even greater things. Supporting the college and its new athletics leadership will be one of my favorite pastimes in retirement, and I look forward to cheering on the Terriers for years to come.”