Award Recipient

Jerome J. Richardson, Sr.

Awarded: Knight Commander’s Accolade – March 24, 2022

Jerry was born in Spring Hope, North Carolina, and attended Wofford College. There he was initiated by the Delta Chapter, served as President of the Inter-Fraternity Council, and was a member of the Student Council Association Cabinet.

He played for Wofford’s football team and still holds multiple records at Wofford including single game receiving yards (241), touchdown receptions in a season (9), and touchdown receptions in a career (21). As captain his senior year, he scored 72 points on nine touchdowns, 12 extra points, and two field goals.

In the 1958 National Football League Draft, Jerry was drafted by the defending world champion Baltimore Colts. He played two seasons earning 1959 Colt Rookie of the Year honors and catching a touchdown pass in the 1959 NFL Championship Game from quarterback Johnny Unitas.

Following his NFL career, Jerry opened the first Hardee’s franchise in Spartanburg, South Carolina, then co-founded Spartan Foods, and ultimately grew their restaurant chain to encompass more than 500 Hardee’s in about a dozen states. Jerry eventually became CEO of Flagstar, then South Carolina’s largest publically traded company with 2,500 restaurants. He oversaw 123,000 employees and $3.7 billion in revenue as the sixth largest food service company in the United States. He retired in 1995.

In 1991, Richardson Sports submitted a formal application to the NFL for an expansion club in Charlotte, North Carolina, to not just represent a city or a state, but all of the Carolinas. Two years later, the owners unanimously voted to select the Carolina Panthers over four other finalists to become the 29th NFL franchise.

Jerry has headed various NFL committees—he co-chaired the search committee that selected Roger Goodell as commissioner—but is perhaps best known for leadership in labor disputes with the players.

Jerry is a member of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, South Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, and South Carolina Business Hall of Fame, and has long been a donor to charatible causes throughout the Carolinas. In 2016, he funded the Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts on the Wofford College campus. In 2017, he funded Wofford’s state-of-the-art Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium, and in 2021, he donated $150 million to Wofford College–the largest gift in the college’s history. Jerry is a seven-year member of the Kappa Alpha Order Educational Foundation’s Crimson & Gold Society. He is also a member of the Frampton and Smith Courts of Honor, Forever KA, and the Loyal Order.

Jerry is married to his college sweetheart Rosalind Sallenger Richardson, and they have three children; Mark Richardson and Ashley Richardson Allen, and the late Jon Richardson. Jerry and Rosalind have nine grandchildren and live in Charlotte.