Mocs mourn the passing of Jim Morgan

Jim Morgan.jpg
The 1975 Mocs with head coach Jim Morgan and All-Americans Randy Batten, John Kavelage, David Weeks and Turner Jackson. Image via

Former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach, professor and athletic administrator Jim Morgan passed away on Friday. Morgan guided the Mocs’ wrestling program for 16 seasons, from 1969 to 1983.

Morgan was a legendary figure at UTC, primarily known for establishing the Mocs wrestling team into a championship program. He guided Chattanooga from 1969 to 1984, posting a career record of 209-70-3.

“I was fortunate enough to meet Coach Morgan and even though I have not been here long, I fully understand the impact he had on Chattanooga Wrestling,” stated first-year head coach Kyle Ruschell. “He was a legend in the wrestling community and set the foundation for our program that still feels his impact 34 years after he coached his last match at UTC.”

The 1992 inductee into the UTC Athletics Hall of Fame, Morgan’s career win total and winning percentage (.746) are still tops in the school record books. He was the 1975 NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year when he led the Mocs to a third-place finish at the NCAA Tournament. The Mocs were runners up the following season and finished ninth in 1977 before making the jump to the Southern Conference and NCAA Division I.

"Jim Morgan, in his decades of coaching, has positively affected thousands of wrestlers, wrestling coaches and the great sport of wrestling” stated UTC’s Director of Athletic Performance Ethan Reeve. Reeve succeeded Morgan as coach of the Mocs from 1985-90.

“Coach Morgan is the winningest wrestling coach in UTC history and is an icon and a legend. He will forever be remembered for his selfless service to others and kind heart!"

Morgan guided UTC to the conference crown its first six years as members of the SoCon, winning Coach of the Year honors in 1978, 1981 and 1983. He coached three individuals to NCAA Division II titles, including Randy Batten (1975-77), Turner Jackson (1975-76) and David Weeks (1976). Batten was the NCAA Most Outstanding Wrestler in 1975.

There were four additional NCAA Division II All-Americans in Morgan’s tenure, including Bill Burnside (1974), John Kavelage (1975-76), Tim Brennan (1976) and Ralph Zinger (1976).

Morgan’s 1983 team finished 14th at the NCAA Championships, the highest for the wrestling program in Division I competition. Byron McGlathery (1980) and Charlie Heard (1982-84) earned NCAA Division I All-American honors under his tutelage.

After leaving the mat at UTC, he served as an Assistant Athletics Director before taking over the Baylor School wrestling program in 1986. His teams won nine state traditional championships, six state duals championships before he retired in 2010.

Morgan was a two-time graduate of the University of Chattanooga, earning both undergraduate and graduate degrees. As a student at UC, he was a member of the wrestling team and won the Dayle May Award his senior year.

Funeral arrangements for Coach Morgan are handled by Lane Funeral Home (601 Ashland Terrace) in Chattanooga.

The wrestling community also lost John Farr on Friday. Farr was a member of the Chattanooga wrestling program and a 1956 graduate of the University of Chattanooga.

Farr was a pioneer in local wrestling, starting programs at a number of local school and winning state titles at Red Bank High School. He directed to the state tournament and was an NCAA Division I official.

Visitation for Coach Farr is 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Monday and 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the North Chapel of Chattanooga Funeral Home. A Celebration of Life service will follow at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the North Chapel of Chattanooga Funeral Home.