In 1981, Dr. Merlin Morrow came to HSU as Chairman of the Physical Education and Recreation Department. He was charged with the responsibility of restructuring the undergraduate physical education curriculum, developing a curriculum for a major in Recreation and developing a graduate degree in Physical Education. He was also in charge to develop a master plan for facilities development for physical education, intramurals and athletics. The responsibilities of athletic director were added in 1989. Shortly there-after he was given the responsibility to reorganize that athletics department which included moving the program from its NCAA Division I level to Division III. The reorganization included reinstating women's basketball after a four-year absence and football after a 27-year absence. During his tenure as Chairman of Physical Education and Director of Athletics, the college built a new baseball stadium, a new athletic field house, a new football stadium and developed several new practice fields. Hardin-Simmons athletics also enjoyed tremendous success under his leadership.
In January of 1995, Dr. Morrow contracted acute rheumatoid arthritis which disabled him for almost a year. In March of that year, he resigned as Director of Athletics. During his recovery, he was given a two-year commission, by the university, to write the history of HSU Athletics, Hardin-Simmons University Athletics: The First Century 1897-1997. He began in May 1995 and finished the manuscript in April 1997. He was a tenured Professor of Physical Education and, at the beginning of the 1997-98 academic year became a full-time professor in the Physical Education Department.