Cleveland State University Head Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving coach Wally Morton will step down from that position at the end of the 2013-14 season after 39 highly-successful seasons with the Vikings in which he brought local, regional and national prominence to the CSU swimming and diving programs.
Morton coached his teams to 20 conference titles while amassing 44 winning seasons. With 377 wins, the Viking Hall of Famer is the winningest coach in the history of Cleveland State University.
“It is time to give someone else the opportunity I was given,” Morton said. ” Service beyond self has always been the model for my life and I will continue to be active personally and professionally as my career evolves in years to come. From the day I arrived at Cleveland State, I have considered it an honor and a privilege to coach, serve as the Aquatics Director and be a teacher.
“My first thoughts are to my wife, Carol, a professor at Baldwin Wallace University, who made it all possible and to my son, Rob, who had to sacrifice so much for my career to be a success. I owe so much to Bob Busbey, head coach and Director of Athletics when I arrived at CSU. He shaped my life and instilled in me the drive for perfection. People over the years have asked, ‘How do you win Championships?’ and my answer is always ‘If you win each day with consistent preparation, work ethic, and expectation for excellence, the results will take care of themselves’.”
“Wally has had a positive impact on more student athletes than any coach in the 50 year history of CSU,.” Director of Athletics John Parry said. “Having coach Morton step down as the head swimming and diving coach will leave enormous shoes to fill, however, I plan to personally seek his sage advice whenever possible.
Morton arrived at CSU as Director of Aquatics, Assistant Swimming and Diving coach and a Physical Education Faculty member in 1974. The CSU Aquatic Facility was the finest in the country and became the focus of the world’s best athletes. Seven years later, he took over the men’s program as Head Coach from legendary coach Busbey. In 2007-08, Morton also became the Head Coach of the CSU women’s program and has since led the team to an unprecedented level of success.
During his time at CSU, Morton’s success is backed by a total of 377 career wins, 14 Penn-Ohio Championships, two Midwestern Collegiate Conference titles, two Horizon League championships, nine Coach of the Year awards and hundreds of pool, school and league record times. Under Morton’s tenure, Viking swimmers currently hold 11 league records on the men’s side and six on the women’s side.
As the Swim Coach and Director of Aquatics at CSU, Morton has received many honors but is most proud of the “Wally Morton” Meet and the “Carl Wirthwein Award” in recognition of Outstanding Contribution on Behalf of High School Swimming in Ohio.
As the Head Coach of the men’s program, Morton has compiled 307 victories that includes an astounding 29 seasons with a .500 record or better, including 15 straight seasons. His 1996-97 and 2009-10 squads set the program record with 14 wins. He has guided the men’s squad to double-digit wins in each of the last 12 seasons.
Morton has led five CSU swimmers and one diver to the NCAA Championships, including three appearances by Jakub Dobies who became the first All-American in CSU and Horizon League history in 2009 when he finished 12th in the nation in the 100 breaststroke. The men’s squad has also received 47 Mid -Major All American Awards by the College Swimming Coaches Association.
Morton turned the women’s program around over the last seven seasons, leading the squad to 70 wins during the span. That includes four straight winning seasons with a school record 15 wins in 2010-11. At last year’s Horizon League Championship, Morton had the women’s team in the lead after each of the first three days before finishing as the runner-up for the second straight year.
In Morton’s brief tenure, his women swimmers have earned 17 Mid-Major All American Awards from the CollegeSwimming.com. Over the last three years, the team has been ranked numerous times in the top-20 in CSCAA rankings.
The women’s team has also excelled in the classroom under the direction of Morton, perennially appearing on the Collegiate Swimming Coaches Association of America Scholar All-America list, which ranks teams according to grade-point average. The Women’s Squad has also received the Horizon League Community Outreach award two out of the last three years, while the Men’s Team won the “Best of the Best” Academic Award at CSU in 2002-03 as the team with the highest GPA in the department. Both teams have received the Scholar All-America Award a combined 57 times with 27 swimmers earning the Academic All-American designations for excellence in the classroom and in the pool.
It’s not just in the pool where Morton has overseen success, but also in the diving well where he has teamed with diving coach Rich Karban for more than 20 years to turn the CSU diving program into the top one in the Horizon League.
Morton is a 1970 graduate of Miami (OH) where he was a member of back-to-back Mid-American Conference championship swim teams in 1966 and 1967. Former Fenn College head coach Raymond Ray coached Morton at Miami (OH) where he started the program in 1950. Morton went on to earn two Graduate degrees at Miami (OH) and Doctoral work at the University of Akron.
Morton has become a well-known face in the swimming world, which has helped him recruit internationally over the years. During his time at CSU, Morton has successfully recruited student-athletes from a number of countries, including Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Canada, England, Egypt, Germany, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro, South Africa, Spain and Sweden among others. 33 National and International Events have been held at CSU under him.
His success at CSU has translated internationally as well with three swimmers under his direction qualifying for the Olympic Trials, including Rui Abreu, Harold Wagner and Nedim Nisic, who went on to compete in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, for his home country of Bosnia.
Morton credits his successful coaching career to two great influences: Tom Patton of the Dover, Ohio YMCA and Busbey, the former USA Olympic Coach who Morton served under as an assistant coach from 1974-81 before taking over the CSU program. Busbey was the Director of Athletics, Chair of the HPERD and coached multiple sports at Fenn/CSU.
In recent years, Morton has actively led fund raising campaigns to provide scholarships and resources for facility enhancements. Alumni and friends of Viking Swimming and Diving are a leading group in gift giving to the University.
A national search for Morton’s replacement will begin in March.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT WALLY MORTON
“I am proud to call Wally my coach, my peer and most importantly my friend. Rarely, does a week pass by when we do not speak. I count our relationship as one of the most cherished things in my life. Wally had a profound impact on a generation of young people at Cleveland State. His strength is his ability to see things in people that they often do not see in themselves as well as providing opportunities for those who otherwise might not have had the chance to compete in college or, for that matter, earn a university diploma. Rarely in college athletics do you see an individual stay at one institution for the entirety of their career. Wally’s tenure as a Viking speaks to his loyalty and pride in the institution. The true hallmarks of a leader are if they left things better than they found them and will they be missed. Simply put, Wally has made a difference in countless individuals lives. I will always be grateful for having Wally in my life.”
Bill Dorenkott, Cleveland State ’91
Member of CSU Swim Team From 1988-91
Ohio State Head Women’s Swimming Coach
“Wally has been an amazing coach and mentor to generations of CSU swimmers and divers. He built on the legacy of Bob Busbey to drive the program to new levels of excellence and success, reaching out to swimmers from around the world to come swim at CSU. But it hasn’t been just about Championships. Wally is passionate about remaining connected to his former swimmers as we build our lives and careers, always caring for our families and our well-being. The common link for all CSU swimmers is Wally Morton.”
Joe Stockwell, Cleveland State ’81 // CSU Athletics Hall of Famer
Member of CSU Swim Team From 1978-81
Member of CSU Athletics Visiting Committee
“I have known Wally since my days as an undergraduate at CSU in the early ’80’s and it will be difficult to imagine CSU Athletics without Coach Morton. His contributions to CSU Athletics, the CSU community and the sport of swimming nationally are unparalleled. He has become an institution at CSU and in the sport of swimming. What stands out most in his distinguished career is the standard of excellence he maintained throughout his career and the positive impact he had on the growth and development of his student-athletes. There will never be another Wally Morton. He will be missed.”
Lee Reed, Georgetown University Director of Athletic
Former CSU Director of Athletics
“It’s impossible to imagine CSU swimming without Wally Morton as the Head Coach. Wally has had a tremendous influence on thousands of student-athletes’ lives, not only during their time at CSU, but in the years after and he continues to be a wonderful resource for me both professionally and personally. He is undoubtedly the most successful coach in the history of Cleveland State and is revered around the country as a coach that not only produces great swimmers, but as an influential advocate for the sport of swimming.”
Andrew Hancock, Cleveland State ’04 // CSU Athletics Hall of Famer
Member of CSU Swim Team From 2000-04 // Former CSU Assistant Swim Coach
University of West Florida Head Women’s Swimming & Diving Coach
“Wally is one of the most impactful, caring, and resilient people that I know. He is a strong advocate of promoting females to have the same opportunities as males and I will forever be grateful to him for giving me such a life-changing opportunity at CSU. During my three year stint at CSU, I witnessed many people’s lives – especially mine – changed through his selfless acts of kindness. What makes him a great coach was the way he teaches people the importance of being a winner in life. He is someone I greatly admire.”
Former CSU Assistant Swim Coach // Florida Gulf Coast Assistant Swimming Coach
After knowing Wally for more than 26 years, swimming for him for four years and then having the opportunity to be his assistant for three more years, I have learned that what Wally brings to the table is much more than coaching. I was a risk for any college program, but Wally knew exactly what buttons to push with me to motivate me to be a better student, swimmer and most importantly, a better person. He told me the straight and honest truth, helped me see the right path to select and supported me to be the best I could be. He still does all of that today. Wally and I speak at least two to three times per month, unless we are both traveling with our coaching obligations. I know that I can speak for the Viking swimming nation that Wally was, has and will always be in each and every one of our corners. Wally has served CSU at the highest level of commitment. He is the definition of Viking Pride.”
Solon Stars/Solon Comets Head Coach
This release was provided to SwimSwam courtesy of CSU Swimming & Diving.