Morgan steps down as USC voice

Radio announcer for USC baseball and basketball resigns under pressure

semerson@thestate.com and jperson@thestate.comApril 22, 2009 

Mike Morgan seemed the heir apparent to Bob Fulton as “The Voice” of Gamecock athletics.

But Morgan’s career at USC ended Monday, when he resigned under pressure as the play-by-play announcer for baseball and basketball. His days also are over at WNKT 107.5-FM, the radio home for Gamecocks sports.

Sources said there had been a buildup of issues between Morgan and management at the station and at ISP Sports, USC’s media-rights holder. Morgan is also believed to have angered a prominent advertiser with the Gamecocks’ radio network, according to two sources.

ISP said Morgan resigned “in order to pursue other professional opportunities.”

Morgan released a statement Tuesday evening thanking fans, his broadcast partners and baseball coach Ray Tanner.

“I feel like I’ve gone as far as I can with my current position as the Voice of basketball and baseball for the University of South Carolina,” Morgan said in the statement. “Consequently, it is time for me to pursue other facets of my career at this point in time.”

Attempts to reach Morgan for further comment were unsuccessful.

USC athletics director Eric Hyman said he was consulted on the decision, but that it was ultimately “an ISP issue.” Asked about Morgan’s relations with management, Hyman said he had no problems in his dealings with him.

“He’s been a fixture here for many, many years, and I think there’s a lot of people that really respect the job that he’s done in the booth,” Hyman said.

Morgan had worked baseball games since 2000 and men’s basketball games since 2003. He also did TV replays of football games.

Liz McMillan of Gamecock Sports Properties, the liaison between ISP and USC, could not be reached for comment. Chris Ferris, senior vice president of radio productions at ISP, issued a statement thanking Morgan for his service and said the company “(wished) him the best in his future endeavors.”

At Tuesday night’s Gamecock Club meeting at the Colonial Life Arena, a highlight video was shown featuring Morgan’s call of the basketball team’s last-second victory against Florida in January.

Morgan will be replaced on an interim basis for baseball games. Derek Scott called Tuesday night’s game at USC Upstate. ISP said it would immediately begin its search for Morgan’s full-time replacement.

Heath Cline, who was Morgan’s partner on his afternoon sports-talk show on WNKT, said he spoke Tuesday with Morgan. Cline said Morgan wanted listeners to know he would be “fine” and that the cause of his leaving was nothing “illegal” or “sinister.”

Morgan, who worked in Columbus, Ga., before moving to Columbia in 1997, has been in discussions with the Carolina Panthers about joining their broadcast team for preseason telecasts, a Panthers spokesman said.

Fulton, the longtime USC broadcaster, praised Morgan, who considered Fulton a mentor.

He “was well-received by the fans,” Fulton said. “I just hope Mike finds (another job), because he’s a very talented announcer. He has an excellent voice. He’s fair-handed in his broadcast.”

Fulton was among those whom Morgan thanked in his statement. He gave out his e-mail address (mikemorgan2001@aol.com) and told fans he would respond to each message.

“I am overwhelmed by your kindness,” Morgan said. “I can’t imagine an announcer receiving more touching words than I have in the last 24 hours alone. It truly makes it harder and harder to walk away from a job that I love so much. We’ll see what the future has in store.

“Thanks for being along for a journey full of great memories.”

Reach Emerson at (803) 771-8676.

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