FLORENCE, S.C. – Dr. Rufus R. Hackney, former golf coach at Francis Marion University, the school’s first athletic director, and a long-time university employee, recently retired from full-time teaching at the university.
Hackney joined the Francis Marion faculty in 1971 as vice president for student affairs and director of athletics. He served as consultant for the development of building plans for the Smith University (then College) Center, which houses the Patriot athletic program. He also helped with the design of the school’s first on-campus apartment-style student housing.
He served as vice president and dean of students until 1979, when he was named professor and director of the physical education academic program and director of intramural activities. In 1972, he helped bring current baseball coach and athletic director Gerald Griffin to Francis Marion. Griffin assumed the athletic director position in 1973.
In 1984, Hackney volunteered to reinstitute and coach the Patriot golf program, which had been abolished five years earlier. In 11 seasons, he guided the Patriots to a 1263-539-19 record, including two NAIA National Tournament appearances (tied for sixth in 1991 and 16th in 1992), two NAIA District Six titles (1991, 1992), and three Palmetto State Conference championships (1990, 1991, 1992). He was named the Palmetto State Conference “Coach of the Year” in 1990 and 1991, the NAIA District Six “Coach of the Year” in 1991 and 1992, and the district’s “Co-Coach of the Year” in 1990.
“My years here at Francis Marion have been very rich and rewarding in many ways,” Hackney said. “The relationships built with faculty and students have been very special. I will miss those full-time associations, but will cherish the learning experiences we shared.
“I first visited Francis Marion in 1970 as a consultant for the soon-to-be built Smith College Center, and I take pride in the fact that the facility is still very usable today. I am now looking forward to a second phase of my life.
“I have enjoyed seeing the athletic program grow from practicing in local high school gyms to having won the NCAA Division II Peach Belt Athletic Conference Commissioner’s Cup trophy two years in a row. As head golf coach, I had the pleasure of coaching three All-Americans and two academic All-Americans.”
In 1992, he recruited current FMU head golf coach Jonathan Burnett to play for the Patriots. “Jonathan was one of my top recruits, and I was very proud of the success he achieved both on the course and in the classroom (Academic All-American). I am also very pleased to see he has grown into an outstanding collegiate golf coach.”
In the teaching classroom, Hackney said he is pleased at having had the opportunity to teach life-saving skills to nearly 3,000 students during the past 28 years through his first aid course.
Through the varied physical education and coaching courses he taught, Hackney came in contact with many students who went on to become teachers themselves. A colleague at Francis Marion also praised him for his participation in helping the university’s education department work toward earning National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) accreditation.
The Durham, N.C., native has worked tirelessly with the university’s Patriot Brigade, raising funds for the FMU athletic program. He has served as an advisor to several Francis Marion student organizations, including Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) honor society, and been active in the Florence community.
Hackney earned the B.A., M.Ed., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of North Carolina. He served as graduate student director of intramurals at UNC for two years (1955-57).
Beginning in 1957, he spent four years at North Georgia College as assistant professor of physical education and director of the sports program. There he coached men’s basketball and men’s and women’s tennis. Prior to coming to FMU, he coached and taught at St. Andrews Presbyterian College for 10 years. He also served the Laurinburg, N.C., school as athletic director and he coordinated and directed all recreational and student life activities, in addition to coaching basketball, tennis, golf, and soccer.
In the early 1960’s, Hackney helped organize the Dixie Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and served as the conference’s first president from 1962 to 1964. The conference is now a member of the NCAA Division III with seven schools in Virginia and North Carolina. He was chairman of NAIA District 29 from 1968 to 1971.