Elizabeth Dee “Liz” Murphey, one of the leading figures in the evolution of women’s intercollegiate athletics at UGA and nationally, died Nov. 23 at Northeast Georgia Medical Center after a short illness. She was 72.
Born May 6, 1933, the Newnan native was not only an outstanding women’s golf coach but also led UGA’s women’s sports program to prominence in the 1980s and 1990s as its senior woman administrator.
Murphey joined the university faculty in 1967 as an assistant professor of physical education and women’s golf coach. She coordinated the women’s club sports program until being named assistant athletic director for women’s sports in 1978. Under her leadership, UGA won eight of the 14 SEC women’s all-sports awards, which were presented annually to the outstanding program in the conference. During her tenure, UGA women’s teams won four national team championships and 31 individual national titles.
When the university officially added women’s golf as an intercollegiate sport in 1978, Murphey already had a solid foundation in place. She led the team to 21 team and 18 individual titles from 1978-86. Under Murphey, UGA finished in the top 10 at each national championship between 1979 and 1983, while Terri Moody and Cindy Schreyer won individual national titles in 1981 and 1984, respectively.
Murphey won the 1984 National Coach of the Year Award and is a charter member of the Collegiate Golf Hall of Fame. Her teams finished second in the 1981 AIAW tournament and third at the 1983 NCAA tournament. One of Murphey’s many honors was the Rolex Meritorious Service Award for her contributions to collegiate golf. She was inducted into the University of Georgia’s Circle of Honor-one of the school’s highest tributes paid to former athletes or coaches-in 2001. For more than three decades, the women’s golf team annually has hosted the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic at the UGA Golf Course, drawing some of the nation’s top teams. Murphey retired from UGA May 6, 1996.