JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Aug. 9, 2012) – The ETSU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics announced Thursday the hiring of George Watts as the Director of ETSU Track & Field/Cross Country.
Watts takes over for former head coach Dave Walker, who retired in June after a Hall of Fame career that ended with over 50 years of service to the ETSU athletics program.
“It’s a great honor to be selected as the next Director of ETSU Track & Field/Cross Country,” Watts said. “I would like to thank Dave Mullins, Barbie Breedlove and the committee for having the faith in me to follow in the footsteps of a coaching legend like Dave Walker. I have some big shoes to fill, but I am confident we can build on the success of this tradition-rich program. This is a wonderful opportunity and I am ready to get started.”
Watts comes to ETSU after spending the past 26 years coaching and assisting track & field and cross country at the University of Tennessee. Watts began his Tennessee career in 1985, serving as the assistant coach for men’s cross country and track & field until 1992. From 1992-95, Watts became the administrative assistant before being named assistant head coach of men’s track & field, and head coach of men’s cross country. He served in that role until 2009, and was then named associate head coach for men’s and women’s track & field, while maintaining his position for the cross country team.
“We’re very fortunate to have someone of Coach Watts’ experience and background to become the second Director of ETSU Track & Field,” said ETSU Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Dave Mullins. “We have a great tradition in track & field and cross country, particularly with our distance runners. Coach Watts has coached distance runners at the highest level – at the SEC, nationally and several Olympians. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our program, and we feel very confident he will set a high standard and direct it in a first class way.”
In his time at Tennessee, Watts directed the Vols to NCAA Outdoor Championships in 1991 and 2001, as well as an NCAA Indoor title in 2002. He has also been a mainstay for success in the SEC, helping lead the Vols to 11 conference championships, coaching athletes to 18 individual titles and 42 All-American honors. At the Olympic level, Watts has coached athletes to berths in the last five Olympic Games Teams.
In 2006, Watts led three Tennessee athletes to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in three different events. At the end of the season, he was recognized by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) as the Mideast Region Male Assistant Coach of the Year in distances. Watts’ coaching accolades also include him being named South Region Coach of the Year for cross country in 2002, and being recognized as South Region Co-Coach of the Year in 2001. In 1995, he won District III Coach of the Year honors.
In addition to tutoring the Volunteers, Watts continued to work with steeplechaser Anthony Famiglietti, as well as other Olympic, World and USA ranked athletes. He directed Jebreh Harris to a third-place finish at the U.S. Outdoor Championships in 2006, and also mentored Harris who ran the first leg on the American-record breaking 4x800 relay team in 2006. Prior to his Olympic appearances, Famiglietti won the 2002 USA outdoor title and 2001 World University Games under Watts' instruction. Watts also worked with Tennessee alum Todd Williams – a 1992 and 1996 Olympian, and 10,000m school record- holder – during his professional career.
A 1983 graduate of Tennessee, Watts secured many honors and awards while running track and cross country for the Vols. He earned Cross Country All-American status in 1977, before earning Indoor All-American praise for the three mile run in 1978. His athletic career at Tennessee also includes four SEC championships, winning the three and six mile in 1976, the 10,000m in 1977, and the three mile in 1978. Watts earned the title of USA Junior Champion for the 10,000m in 1976, and is also the freshman indoor two mile and three mile, as well as the freshman outdoor 10,000m all-time record holder at Tennessee. His three mile time in the 1978 SEC Indoor meet is still the school record.
Watts and his wife, Karen, have a daughter, Katie.
For more information on ETSU track and field, please visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the track and field links.