Josh Morton is no stranger to college athletics and already has big plans for Augustana’s athletic department heading into the future.
His strategic plan going forward consists of three things: enhancing the student-athlete experience, being active in the community and winning with integrity.
Morton’s career started off as a TV sports anchor in Charleston, S.C., but found himself returning to his alma mater at the University of North Dakota to become an associate athletic director. After UND and prior to Augustana, Morton was an assistant athletic director at Michigan State University and dealt primarily with fundraising for five years.
Now at the helm of the athletic department, Morton has devised a plan that he wants to implement to distinguish Augustana from its competitors.
Morton said enhancing the student-athlete experience is about more than trophies and the amenities—it involves the classroom and the community. Morton has embraced the Augustana slogan of “Building Champions,” and wants to continue to do so in all aspects of Augustana Athletics.
“We are here to offer them an opportunity to have a life-changing experience,” Morton said. “It won’t be given to them, but it’s an opportunity for them to take it and do what they want with it.”
Augustana has been in Sioux Falls for 100 years and is the premier institution in the city. Building relationships within the community of Sioux Falls is one of Morton’s primary goals. In the 2017-18 school year alone student-athletes dedicated more than one thousand hours of community service.
Winning may be all that matters to some, but Morton wants to ensure that Augustana is winning the right way — with integrity.
With three national championships since 2011, he knows that Augustana wins the right way.
“Our coaches do it the right way,” Morton said. “It shows on the recruiting trail by bringing in high-quality students to campus.”
Morton attributes the success of Augustana to more than the achievements of its athletic programs and believes that those other aspects are what make the university stand out from others, too.
“It starts with the academic reputation of the school,” Morton said. “It’s difficult. It’s a difficult place to get a degree and that’s what makes it more meaningful. The great professors and faculty help set us apart.”
He also believes that the vibrancy of Sioux Falls and the potential for experiential learning makes Augustana stand out too.
At the moment Morton isn’t concerned with the elephant in the room surrounding Augustana and the possibility of going Division I.
“No decision has been made,” Morton said. “My focus right now is on this academic athletic year and supporting our coaches to do whatever we can to be great.”
The university wants to do more research and gather more information about the impacts going DI will have on Augustana athletics and the campus as a whole.
“It’s not just athletics on an island looking at being a division one university,” Morton said. “It’s the whole university taking a look at it and seeing if it is a good fit for everyone.”