George Watts enters his seventh year as Director of ETSU Track & Field/Cross Country after assuming the post on August 9, 2012.
Under his watch, ETSU has broken 28 records in indoor and outdoor track and field events, excluding repeated records. Watts has also coached a number of national qualifiers, All-Americans and countless conference champions while at ETSU — most recently coaching All-American Ben Johnson who broke five school records, numerous meet records, Southern Conference records and facility records in field events from 2015-19.
On the cross country side, Watts has directed the men's team to second place conference championship finishes in four of his seven seasons while finishing no lower than third place all seven seasons. The women's squad also owns one second place finish, two third place and three fourth place finishes under Watts' direction.
The past two seasons, Watts has led the men's track and field team to third place finishes in the SoCon Outdoor Conference Championships while keeping the women's squad in the top five each season. In 2015, the men's team finished second in the outdoor meet. For the indoor championships, Watts has guided both squads to top four finishes each of the last three seasons.
In his first two seasons, Watts led the Bucs to two top-three finishes -- both men and women -- at the Atlantic Sun Conference Cross Country Championships as well as helped the Blue & Gold place among the top three at the league track & field championships -- both indoor and outdoor -- during both years. Recently, in their first appearance at the Southern Conference Cross Country Championships since 2004, Watts guided the men to a runner-up finish on Oct. 31, 2014. During his tenure at ETSU, the veteran coach has overseen the establishment of 17 new school records in track & field and also coached five Honorable Mention All-Americans, two Second-Team All-American selections, and two Capital One Academic All-America appointments.
Watts comes to ETSU after spending 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 former ETSU Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Dave Mullins at the time of Watts' hire. “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.