Couple Honors Son With Commitment to ‘Athletics Done Right’ Project
by Danielle Strickland
Greg Johnson ’72 knew very little about Davidson College when former Head Football Coach Dave Fagg ’58 paid him a visit. Now, in support of alma mater and the football program, Johnson and his wife, Elise, have made a $500,000 commitment to the college’s athletics facilities project “Athletics Done Right – The Next Step.”
Fagg’s visit stoked Johnson’s interest in playing for the Wildcats, where he logged one season with the team. More importantly, though, Davidson prepared him well for medical school.
“I realized after one season that I needed more time to study, but football allowed me to find the school that is very near and dear to my heart,” he said. “I’ve always been behind the program, even through the dark years when we weren’t winning. When you’re winning, the whole world looks rosy, but we are long-time supporters, and I am grateful for [Head Coach] Scott Abell for making it fun again.”
Their gift will name the lobby of the new fieldhouse in memory of their son, Rutledge, class of 2005, who followed in his father’s Davidson footsteps and played football for three years. He passed away unexpectedly in 2018. The couple is looking forward to the ways this gift will honor Rutledge’s life and contribute to the excellence of Davidson for years to come.
“At our 45th reunion a few years back, there were seven of us standing around,” Johnson recalled. “I realized we had all played football and six of us became physicians and one became a dentist. It was amazing to think about the success of that football team, even though it wasn’t on the field. Davidson and football taught us how to be successful in life.”
In addition to football, you can find the Johnsons at home basketball games, cheering on the ’Cats on McKillop Court inside John M. Belk Arena. They are passionate about the college’s ability to recruit the best scholar-athletes from across the country.
“Scott [Abell] says he’s recruiting against the Ivy League schools,” Johnson said. “Our academics are just as good, and our football program can be equal. We can convince these athletes to come to Davidson, where we don’t cut any corners, and athletes are expected to compete in the classroom, too.”
Johnson wears his Wildcat pride on his clothes and through a big sticker on the back of his car, and the connections a simple logo can create remind him every day of the sense of community at Davidson. Through his support, more opportunities will be available to those who join the community.
“I hope people who care about Davidson and the football program will realize that the program may not have always been what you wanted it to be, but we have to do the best we can to enhance it for generations to come,” he said. “We have an exciting brand of football, and this gift is one way to show Scott I appreciate him and really enjoy watching his teams.”
The athletics facilities project, titled Athletics Done Right – The Next Step, has raised nearly $40 million toward a $54 million goal. To learn more, contact Brandon McCladdie, director of athletic development, at [email protected] or 704-894-2657.