Charlie Bryant 2006
Charlie Bryant has done a little bit of everything in a long and distinguished career in sports. He’s been an athlete, a coach, an administrator.
Bryant grew up in High Point and attended High Point Central. He excelled at the big three of football, baseball, and basketball but his best work may have been done on the mat. Bryant learned to wrestle at the local YMCA and captured state titles in the 165-pound weight class as a freshman and sophomore at Central. But head basketball coach Tony Simeon convinced Bryant to give up wrestling and play basketball. Bryant became a starting guard on Central’s 1950 North Carolina state basketball champions.
Bryant’s next stop was Spartanburg, South Carolina, where he attended Wofford College on a football scholarship. Bryant was a running back but suffered a serious knee injury in his junior season that ended his football and basketball careers. He continued to play baseball and had a chance to play professionally but turned it down because of the uncertain condition of his knee. Bryant graduated in 1954.
Bryant got his start in coaching in the United States Army, where he coached baseball. After leaving the military, he was head basketball coach at Anderson High School in South Carolina for one season and did so well that he was hired by Bones McKinney to be the Wake Forest freshman and varsity assistant basketball coach.
Bryant stayed at Wake Forest through the 1964 season and helped the Deacons win the 1961 and 1962 ACC titles and advance to the 1962 Final Four. He moved to North Carolina State following the 1964 season, about the time health reasons forced Everett Case to retire. Bryant was Press Maravich’s assistant on State’s 1965 ACC champions and Norm Sloan’s 1970 ACC champions. He flirted with head-coaching positions at Virginia and Memphis and turned down chances to pursue positions at smaller schools.
Bryant left coaching after the 1970 season. He says simply “I loved the competition but I just got tired of the recruiting.” He was a Vice-President with the First Union National Bank in Gastonia from 1971 through 1977. North Carolina State Athletic Director Willis Casey convinced Bryant to come back to Raleigh to take over as Executive Secretary of the North Carolina State University Student Aid Association, better known as the Wolfpack Club.
Bryant held that position until his retirement in 1997. He restructured the organization to better chart lifetime contributions by donors and reorganized the county chapters. Under his direction the Wolfpack Club funded scholarships for an estimated 7,000 athletes and helped State dramatically improve its athletic facilities. Bryant says “I was the first person from my family to graduate from college and so are many of the athletes we’ve helped. It’s a multiplier. Their kids to college and their kids go to college. It’s a tremendous return on investment. To see a kid graduate who under other circumstances might not have had a chance at college, that provides great satisfaction.”
Bryant, who lives in Cary, describes his selection to the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame an indication of “why Mr. Webster put the word ‘gratitude’ in his dictionary. Sports has been my life. To be recognized in the world I love is special.”
— May 2006