John Morris recently began his third year as Director of Athletics at Tufts University. Since taking the job in June 2015, Morris has continued to build upon the championship culture at Tufts while also making his own mark on the program.
Embracing Tufts Athletics’ mission of providing a transformative student-athlete experience, achieving academic excellence, winning championships, and using athletic venues as classrooms to teach life lessons and develop leaders, Morris was at the helm as Tufts Athletics enjoyed one of its most successful years in 2016-17.
Academically, Tufts student-athletes earned five Academic All-America honors and eight Academic All-District awards in 2016-17. They achieved an average cumulative grade point average of 3.375, and Jumbos led the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) with 133 Academic All-NESCAC honorees in the spring.
On the way to a best-ever third-place finish in the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup competitively, Tufts teams won an NCAA championship, fought their way to two NCAA championship games, made Sweet 16 and Elite 8 appearances and captured two conference titles. Men’s Track distance runner Tim Nichols won the NCAA indoor 5,000 meters title and 35 Jumbos received All-American honors.
In the community, the Tufts women’s tennis program received the 2017 Division III National Community Service Award from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. Student-athletes and coaches devoted countless hours to supporting Team IMPACT, the Somerville Homeless Coalition, Alzheimer’s research and numerous other causes and organizations.
Morris is also helping Athletics build its future through fund-raising. Tufts has launched the Brown & Blue Athletics Fund, an annual giving program for Jumbo Athletics. Behind this initiative, Tufts experienced another significant increase in annual giving to Athletics, both in terms of money raised and number of donors. In September 2017, Tufts opened Daniel Ounjian Field, a new $2.4 million synthetic turf field with lights that serves as the home for the Jumbo field hockey team and many club teams and intramural sports.
A tireless, charismatic leader, Morris brought a unique combination of educational background, work experience and personal qualities to the position. He received an undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University (B.A. 1990, French and Political Science) and a law degree from Vanderbilt University School of Law (J.D. 1993). After law school, he spent four years working as an attorney at a large private law firm in Florida.
He switched careers and began working in intercollegiate athletics at his alma mater in 1997. Prior to coming to Tufts, he worked in a variety of progressively expanded roles at the NCAA national office and at four very different collegiate institutions. After serving as Senior Associate Athletic Director at the University of Washington for eight years (2004-2012), he was hired to the position of Deputy Director of Athletics at Colorado State University in the summer of 2012. For two years, he was the chief operating officer and managed all day-to-day operations for the department. In August 2014, he was promoted to serve the university as the Interim Director of Athletics.
Though most of his previous experience has been at the NCAA Division I level, Morris’ roots are steeped in the principles which are espoused in Division III and at private, educationally-minded institutions like Tufts.
“The mission of Tufts University aligns perfectly with my own educational values,” he said at the time of his hire. “I will be passionate about carrying out that mission every day.”
A native of St. Louis., John and his wife Taylor have two children – Oliver and Madeleine - and live in Lexington.