Football great Taz Anderson now scores fund-raising dollars for his school instead of points.
Talk about giving back to your alma mater. Meet Tazwell (Taz) Leigh Anderson, a member of every fund raising committee for the Georgia Tech Athletic Association and for Georgia Tech for more than 40 years. He served as a trustee of the Tech Athletic Association for 10 years and chairman of his class (1961) reunion for 40 years. His groups raised more than $5 million for school projects.
Anderson also spearheaded fund raising for a new athletic administration building in 1975 and in 1985 assembled a team of architects, contractors and engineers – and served as developer – for the renovation of Alexander Memorial Coliseum, home of the basketball Jackets, expanding the seating from 6,000 to 9,500. He was a member of the three-man team that championed renaming Grant Field as Bobby Dodd Stadium during Coach Dodd’s lifetime.
He served as a trustee for the Alexander Tharpe Fund, the fund-raising arm of the Georgia Tech Athletic Association and has been member or chair of every major project for the Tech Athletic Association over the past 30 years.
Growing up in Savannah, Anderson was captain of the Panthers Little League team. At Savannah High School, he played end, halfback and linebacker and was so spectacular that he was named “All-City,” “All-State,” and co-captain of the South Georgia All-Star team. He received a football scholarship to Georgia Tech and was named to the Savannah Athletic Hall of Fame and was one of five metro Savannah football players chosen as the city’s “Athletes of The Century.” He also played basketball and for 10 years held the state region prep track record for discus throwing.
During his freshman season with Tech, Anderson was a starting end. As a sophomore he played fullback and halfback and was selected to the All-Southeastern Conference team. He was named Tech’s most valuable back as a sophomore and junior.
Dodd moved Anderson from the backfield to end because he had “glue-fingered hands, good speed, great determination and a knack for getting open. If he stays healthy,” Dodd said, “He will make it as a pro.”
Although he had “All-American” games against Georgia and Notre Dame as a sophomore, Anderson’s biggest game was against Tennessee as a junior in ’59. At Knoxville, home of the Vols, he scored both Tech touchdowns in a 14-7 victory. Playing fullback, he set up the winning touchdown with a 20-yard run to the one, scored the TD himself on the next play and played a whale of a game on defense. The Associated Press named him “Back of The Week.”
At 6′ 2″, 215, Anderson was no giant among the pros. But no one ever made a more auspicious debut with the St. Louis Cardinals, as he caught 22 passes and became the most devastating blocker on the team. Upon being traded to the Atlanta Falcons in 1966, he registered another notable debut. In the Falcons’ opener, Anderson caught a 32-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the game. In his second season with the Falcons a knee injury ended his football career.
That’s when his real estate career began. His first year in business he made $100,000 on his first sale. Then he quadrupled his income with the sale of four more houses. “I figured if I could earn that kind of income my first year then I was in the right business,” Anderson says.
Anderson accomplished all that for Carl Stifel and George Johnson Realty companies. One year later he was in commercial real estate and on his own. During the next 39 years, along with various partners he put together land deals – everywhere from Atlanta to Virginia – valued at almost $200 million. Among those parcels was the northwest corner of Peachtree and Piedmont in Buckhead, which sold to Prudential for $42 million in 1986.
He went on to found a technology business which placed electronic scoreboards in high school venues all over Georgia; he also brought the New Year’s Eve Peach to downtown Atlanta.
Anderson, 68, lives in Buckhead with his wife, Gregory; they have three children. His fondest memory of Georgia Tech, he says, is “graduating.”
Gene Asher is a veteran sportswriter and businessman.