A native of Cimarron, New Mexico, William Morley enrolled in the Columbia School of Mines in 1899. During his first year on the gridiron for Columbia, the Lions played to an 8-3 record, including a historic victory over Yale. Morley and his teammate Harold Weekes comprised a daunting Columbia backfield that was known for exciting runs and devastating blocks, which set the tone for Columbia's 5-0 win over the Elias, the second-ever win over Yale in Columbia football history.
Throughout his career on the field as a player, Morley and Columbia recorded a 23-11 mark. Morley earned a reputation as an aggressive player, at both the quarterback and halfback positions, while also excelling in the kicking game. His stellar play earned him the honor of captain of the 1900 squad.
Morley's success as a brutish, yet swift, runner earned him a pair of Walter Camp All-American awards. He received his first All-American honor in 1900, and then again the following year.
Morley, a 1971 National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame inductee, became the first Columbia graduate to become the head football coach in 1902. The summer of 1902 was one of many changes for Morley, as he went from being slated as the 1902 captain, to leaving Columbia altogether to begin his mining career, then returning back to the City of New York to take over the coaching duties.
In his four-year tenure as Columbia's head football coach from 1902-1905, Morley posted a 26-11-4 record, including a 9-1 mark in the 1903 campaign. To this day, his .688 career winning percentage is still the best of any football coach in school history.
Outside of football, Morley also competed on the wrestling mat. The man who created his legacy on the football field was also recognized for wining Columbia's heavyweight wrestling championship in the spring of 1902. Morley needed only 14 seconds to put his opponent into a half Nelson hold and secure a fall.