King Dixon, one of the most decorated football players in USC history, died Monday evening after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 83. The Laurens native and Marine veteran not only starred on the gridiron for the Gamecocks, he also served as their Director of Athletics from 1988-1992.
At that time, the Gamecocks were just coming off the steroid scandal that smeared their reputation nationally. During King’s tenure, the Gameccks suffered the loss of head football coach Joe Morrison to a heart attack, hired Sparky Woods to replace him, skipped a bowl game because it conflicted with exams, fired basketball coach George Felton and joined the SEC.
But Dixon was best known for his exploits on the football field. He was a multiple threat as a runner, receiver and returner. He rushed for 1250 yards in his career, 33rd best in school history. His best season was 1956 when he rushed for 655 yards. Dixon tied for the team lead in receptions (10) with Alex Hawkins in 1958. And he led the Gamecocks in kickoff returns in all three of his seasons and once in punt returns. His two kickoff returns for touchdowns in 1956 is still a school record shared with Boo Williams and Deebo Samuel.
His 98 yard return of the opening kickoff for a touchdown against Texas in 1957 is tied for 5th longest in school history and sparked the Gamecocks to a 27-21 upset of the 20th ranked Longhorns in Austin. The following week, he took the opening kickoff against Furman back 89 yards for a touchdown. He averaged nearly 30 yards per kickoff return which was an NCAA record at the time.
Dixon was named to the All-ACC Team and was a second team All American. And he served as USC’s team captain for three seasons.
Dixon was a member of the USC Athletics Hall of Fame, the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame, and on December 31st was appointed by Governor Henry McMaster to temporarily fill a seat on the USC Board of Trustees following the death of AC “Bubba” Fennell.