By Stephen Utz
NEW ALBANY, Ind. – Jim Morris, the first director of athletics at IU Southeast and longtime men’s basketball coach, passed away Sunday at the age of 87.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Coach Morris,” said Interim Director of Athletics Amanda Dailey-Weaver. “He built the athletic department from the ground up and remained a fixture at IU Southeast athletic events in recent years.
“Jim’s leadership and passion for this department has helped it grow into what it is today. There would not be an IU Southeast athletic department without his hard work and passion for the this University and the community. Our thoughts and prayers, are with his wife, JoAnn, his family, friends and all his former players.”
Morris, a Jeffersonville native, began coaching basketball at age 22 at Flaget High School in Louisville after a stint in the U.S. Army. He led the 1960 team to a state championship and was named Kentucky High School Coach of the Year. He later coached at New Albany High School before moving on to the college ranks at Oscar Rose Junior College and Indiana State University.
Morris joined the IU Southeast athletic department as athletic director and men’s basketball head coach in 1975. During his tenure, the IU Southeast athletic department completed construction on the Activities Building in 1979.
The Grenadier men’s athletic teams joined the NAIA in 1978 and the women’s teams followed in 1982. Beginning in the 1994-95 school year, IU Southeast joined the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC) after competing for many years in District 21. The KIAC is one of the oldest athletics conferences in the country and began its intercollegiate governance in 1916. The conference was rebranded as the River States Conference on July 1, 2016.
During the 70’s and early 80’s under Morris’s leadership, IU Southeast had, at one period or another, teams in men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, women’s volleyball, men’s soccer, men’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis and men’s and women’s cross country.
Morris retired in 1999 as the men’s basketball program’s winningest head coach. He held that title until current head coach Wiley Brown set the new record with his 279th win on Feb. 8, 2020.
He was awarded the Chancellor’s Medallion for his service to IU Southeast in 2010 and the Indiana University Bicentennial Medal in 2020. He was also awarded the Sagamore of the Wabash, the State of Indiana’s highest honor.
Public visitation will be held at the Activities Building, 2100 Grenadier Drive, on the IU Southeast campus on Saturday, June 17 from 1 p.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday, June 18 from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
The Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, June 19, 2023 at St. Augustine Catholic Church, located at 315 E. Chestnut St., Jeffersonville, IN. Burial will be in the Queen of Heaven Cemetary.
Naville & Seabrook Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.