Jim Morris, who began his 21st season at Iowa Western Community College in 2015, has announced his intention to retire from coaching after the season. “When I told my players it was really, really hard,” the longtime coach said. “I did not think it was going to be that difficult, but I have been at this for 39 years.”
Iowa Western administrators were quick to praise Morris’ impact on the college and its basketball program. “Jim Morris has been a first-class individual throughout his entire coaching career,” said Iowa Western President Dr. Dan Kinney. “I do not believe you will find one athlete our coaching colleague that will argue that Jim Morris is a great leader of young men. He will be missed.”
Iowa Western Athletic Director Brenda Hampton echoed those sentiments. “Beyond wins and losses, Jim has always been an advocate for the student athletes on our campus. He is a great person and coach.”
Morris began his 39th year of coaching – 35th at the collegiate level – this season. In his two decades at Iowa Western, Morris has compiled a 440-209 record, ranking him first in program history for coaching wins and winning percentage (67.7 %). Last season, his Reivers won at least 20 or more games (22-8) for the 16th time in his 20-season tenure.
In 2012-2013, Morris guided the Reivers to a school record in winning percentage (91.4 %), and the second most wins for a season (32-3), and the team won Region and District XI titles. The Reivers also landed the school’s first-ever No. 1 seed going into the NJCAA National Tournament. Iowa Western reached the “Elite Eight” for the third time in Morris’ tenure, earning him Region and District Coach of the Year honors.
In the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons, Iowa Western was one of only two programs in the nation to finish in the top five both seasons. Under Coach Morris, the Reivers reached the Region XI Championship game five straight seasons (2003-2008) and won it twice. Basketball Times Magazine named Iowa Western the nation’s 17th best junior college basketball program of the decade since 2000. In 24 years as a collegiate head coach, Morris has on overall record of 519-258, an average of 21 wins per season. His record as an assistant coach was an impressive 255-58.
Coach Morris was hired at Iowa Western following a coaching stint at Colby (Kansas) Community College, where he took over a program that had not had a winning season in five years. In four seasons at Colby, Morris guided the Trojans to 20-win seasons three times. His 1992-1993 team won the Kansas Independent Championship. Prior to Colby, Morris served as an assistant coach at Barton County Community College in Great Bend, Kansas. During his four-year stint at Barton County the Cougars won 109 games and lost just 27. During Morris’ final season at Barton County, the Cougars placed third in the NJCAA National Tournament, the first tournament appearance in school history.
Before his stop at Barton County, Morris was the assistant coach at Moberly Junior College in Moberly, Mo. Morris assisted Dana Altman, currently the head coach at the University of Oregon. Morris began his college coaching career in 1982 as an assistant coach at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, Neb. While coaching in Lincoln, Coach Morris completed work on his master’s degree at the University of Nebraska.
Morris coached five years of high school ball starting in Chester-Hubbell, Nebraska, and also Prairie Gowrie, Iowa, and Pawnee City Nebraska.