John Morris is in his seventh year as Director of Athletics at Tufts University. He leads the Jumbo staff in its mission to provide a transformative student-athlete experience, achieve academic excellence, win championships, and use athletic venues as classrooms to teach life lessons and develop leaders.
Over the past year and a half, Morris has guided Tufts Athletics through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Under his leadership, the Jumbo staff stepped up and actively assisted the university in managing the pandemic. At the same time, he led the department’s efforts to join the conversation about race by participating in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives aimed at educating the staff.
In 2020, when Tufts’ spring, fall and winter seasons were canceled, Morris advocated for the teams to train and practice under strict safety guidelines. Coaches and staff provided student-athletes with a robust experience despite no games being played. When intercollegiate competition resumed in April 2021, the Jumbos’ produced a run of outstanding performances topped by three NESCAC championships and by women’s lacrosse and men’s tennis senior Boris Sorkin playing in NCAA championship finals. Academically, Tufts student-athletes achieved a remarkable cumulative grade point average of 3.61 last year.
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. Two classes have already been inducted and a third has been selected as Tufts continues to celebrate the men and women who brought honor and acclaim to Tufts.
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. The $6 million Tufts Squash Center opened in February 2020, positioning the teams to reclaim the once prominent place Tufts Squash held nationally and providing further recreational opportunities for the Tufts and surrounding communities.
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. 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.