John Morris recently began his fifth 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 again enjoyed one of its most successful years in 2018-19.
Academically Tufts student-athletes achieved a cumulative grade point average of 3.396 last year, which exceeded that of the entire student body. The Jumbo men’s soccer team won its third NCAA Championship in the last five seasons. Student-athletes Boris Sorkin and Roger Gu won national titles in tennis and swimming, respectively. Tufts teams also captured four conference championships.
Behind Morris’ leadership, the Tufts Athletics Hall of Fame was established in 2018 to celebrate the rich history of athletics excellence at Tufts spanning more than 150 years. The second class was inducted on April 13, 2019 before a full house at Cousens Gymnasium.
Morris is also helping Athletics build its future through fund-raising. Tufts recently launched the Brown & Blue Athletics Fund, an annual giving program. Behind this initiative, Tufts received the most funds ever donated to Athletics during FY 2019. Construction recently began on a $6 million squash facility that will position the university to host NESCAC and regional intercollegiate, as well as high school and club tournaments.
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 held 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 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 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.