Former NCAA coach leads La Sierra athletics board
Dec. 6, 2012
By Darla Martin Tucker
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – (www.lasierra.edu) A well-known university athletics director and basketball coach who led four teams to national tournaments is bringing his leadership skills to a fledgling athletics board at La Sierra University.
Stan Morrison, who retired August 2011 from 12 years as athletics director for the University of California, Riverside took up chairmanship this fall of La Sierra University’s Golden Eagles Athletics Advisory Board. The group, which is entering its second year of operation, met in October and will reconvene again on Jan. 15. In the meantime, board members have been given a game plan by their leader: they are to bring one person unaffiliated with La Sierra University to one game per month, and to come to the next board meeting with the names of two alumni with whom they can share the vision of La Sierra’s athletics department.
“Athletics can be the front window of an institution,” said Morrison. Sports scores and stories in the media serve as “a great way of introducing a university to a community.” Morrison advises the athletics administration at La Sierra and strives to support its needs through fundraising. Projects in need of financial assistance include baseball and softball field lighting, locker room expansions, play off travel costs and sports scholarships.
Morrison’s arrival at La Sierra has been met with enthusiasm.
“He is the best person we could have brought on board,” said Derek Robbins, head coach for the Golden Eagles men’s basketball team. “He’s been a successful player, a successful coach, and he’s done a great job as an athletics director. It’s a benefit to us that we can grow and follow his lead into the future.”
“It is an honor for our athletics department to have someone like Stan Morrison as the chair,” said Yami Bazan, La Sierra’s vice president for Student Life division that oversees the athletics program. “His lifework on and off the court is an inspiration not just for our athletes, but for our coaches, our athletics director, and those of us who are in leadership positions today. We are grateful and consider his leading of our athletics advisory board a God-gift.”
Morrison, nationally known for his work as a head basketball coach and athletics administrator at several schools, joined UCR’s Highlanders program in 1999. He led the program into National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I status and oversaw the expansion of the university’s sports offerings. Prior to arriving at UCR, he achieved national recognition at four other Division 1 universities – San Jose State, the University of Southern California, the University of the Pacific, and the University of California, Santa Barbara. As a coach he led the University of the Pacific Tigers, the San Jose State Spartans, and two USC Trojan teams to the coveted NCAA tournament.
Between September 2006 and June 2011 Morrison also served on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee that administers the NCAA Division I men’s basketball championship and selects the 68 teams that participate. The committee was a key player in securing a $10.8 billion contract with CBS and Turner Broadcasting System Inc. Morrison also previously served on the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament Committee and raised significant funds for the UC Santa Barbara 21-sport Gauchos athletics program while serving as its director between 1986-89.
Morrison’s background includes playing both collegiate and professional ball. He captured national attention as a center for the University of California, Berkeley Bears when the basketball team won the NCAA title in 1959, and when it earned a runner-up status in 1960.
He has served as personal coach and consultant to former Los Angeles Lakers’ center Shaquille O’Neal and continues to serve as a sports commentator for FOX Sports, Comcast Television and BAY-TV.
Since his retirement from UCR, Morrison has held the position of senior vice president of business growth at Security Bank of California based in downtown Riverside. He sits on the boards of about 10 nonprofits including serving as board president for Olive Crest, an organization that provides group homes for abused teenagers. He said he views his involvement with La Sierra as another opportunity for giving back.
“There is a very real commitment by young men and women student-athletes at La Sierra University. They deserve campus and community support,” said Morrison. “My 50-plus years of work in intercollegiate athletics, as an athlete, coach and administrator, have provided me with many experiences that put me in a position to possibly help and assist LSU in avoiding the pitfalls, hurdles and potholes that are out there.”
La Sierra’s Golden Eagles sports program is entering its third year with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. The university offers men’s and women’s basketball, men’s soccer and baseball, and women’s volleyball and softball. The Golden Eagles volleyball team recently celebrated another high-performance year with its competition in the Association of Independent Institutions playoffs, an achievement that follows last year’s inclusion in the NAIA national championship.
On Nov. 19 the California Pacific Conference announced the Golden Eagles’ membership in its program beginning in the 2013-14 school year. La Sierra’s inclusion brings the Cal Pac total membership to 10 institutions.
Morrison’s connection with La Sierra took root in 2009 when La Sierra University Athletics Director Javier Krumm approached him for advice and mentorship in starting a board. Morrison talked about fundraising and suggested securing corporate sponsorships.
“The single greatest product any university has are its student athletes,” said Morrison. Athletes learn persistence, dedication and teamwork, he said. “Great teams, when they really succeed, they talk about how [they are] a family.”
“In sports …nothing is gray and everything is black and white. Can you make the free throw or can’t you?” he said. “It is a wonderful world where coaches can teach truth. You must live the truth if you’re going to be successful.”
In August, Morrison gave a presentation during a La Sierra athletics department retreat at Camp Cedar Falls in Angelus Oaks. He spoke about leadership, life choices and the price of greatness. “Leadership must go to extraordinary lengths to get extraordinary results,” Morrison told the gathering. It is a talk he has previously given to student-athletes, coaches, and business and industry organizations.
A leader needs to push a team through intense practice and discipline to achieve “redirection of energy, motives and focus,” Morrison says. “It is about taking control of yourself and releasing the ‘fight factor’.” Individual members must reach a level of personal commitment, or resolution in order for the team to reach the ultimate goal of inspiration, where their desire for perfection coupled with prior training and discipline causes them to inspire each other “and achieve seemingly impossible feats of physical and mental performance.”