Longtime coach Bill Morningstar '64 awarded Elon Medallion
T. William "Bill" Morningstar Jr., who served under three Elon presidents as a coach across multiple sports, was honored at the 11th annual Night of the Phoenix.
T. William "Bill" Morningstar Jr. '64, who served as a coach, teacher, mentor and friend to generations of Elon students, was awarded the Elon Medallion at the 11th annual Night of the Phoenix on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018.
The university's most prestigious honor, Elon Medallions are awarded at the discretion of the president to those who have contributed outstanding service to Elon over many years. Morningstar was introduced by retired Elon athletics director Alan White and received the Medallion from President Leo M. Lambert, the third of three Elon presidents he served under during his tenure at the university.
Lambert referred to Morningstar as a coaching "legend" and White detailed his impressive record in guiding many teams to success during a hall-of-fame career that spanned more than four decades. Morningstar was a successful head coach in men’s basketball and golf before establishing and coaching teams in women’s and men’s cross country, women’s track and field, and women’s golf prior to his retirement in 2013.
After growing up in South Boston, Virginia, Morningstar arrived at Elon as a student in 1961 and went on to become a standout basketball player as the program complied a 75-40 overall record during his four years. Graduating with a degree in physical education, he earned a master's degree from Lynchburg College and worked as a high school teacher and coach before returning to Elon in 1972 as assistant men's basketball coach under head coach Bill Miller.
He was known for his "can-do" philosophy and willingness to take on new duties, such as when he was asked to fill the role as Elon's men's golf coach, a move that paved the way for decades of success for Elon golfers. It launched an unparalleled run of success that saw Elon advance to the NAIA national tournament 16 times and place in the top 10 each year before winning the national championship in 1982, a year Morningstar was named NAIA National Coach of the Year.
Morningstar regularly brought in golf professionals to better guide the young players he recruited to Elon, and under his leadership, Elon saw 65 all-conference performers, 43 all-district selections, 18 All-Americans and 14 Golf Coaches Association of America All-American Scholars. All along, Morningstar would modestly offer that he merely "drove the team van."
His peers recognized him during his career as much more than that. He was named conference golf coach of the year 15 times and is a member of the Elon Athletics Hall of Fame, the NAIA Coaches Hall of Fame, the South Atlantic Conference Hall of Fame and the Halifax South Boston Sports Hall of Fame. In 2011, he was honored with the Distinguished Service in Sports Award by the Alamance County Sports Development Council.
Morningstar's impact was felt beyond the driving range or golf course. He played a key role in establishing equal opportunities for female student-athletes by developing and coaching women's teams in cross country and golf and helping to level the playing field for all student-athletes.
Morningstar's Elon Medallion was the headline event in the annual Night of the Phoenix fundraising event sponsored by the Phoenix Club. Members of the organization annually provide scholarship support to more than 350 student-athletes in 17 NCAA Division I varsity sports, as well as assistance with sport endowments and capital facilities projects. The Phoenix Club Advisory Board is chaired by Mike Cross of Burlington, N.C.