A commitment to quality and equality in women’s athletics has been the focal point for Dr. Leotus Morrison during her career in athletics as a James Madison University coach and administrator. Her efforts on behalf of equality of opportunity for women athletes can best be exemplified by her work in numerous organizations that have provided a basis for the tremendous growth experience in women’s athletics in the last two decades. A native of Savannah, Georgia she joined the JMU faculty in 1954 and became associate athletic director in 1971. She coached the JMU field hockey team for 17 years prior to her retirement from coaching in 1977. Her 1977 varsity field hockey team won a regional championship and competed in the national tournament. Morrison is responsible for the development of James Madison University’s Women’s Athletic Program including 12 teams.
Morrison played an instrumental role in the formation of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW), the original governing body for college women’s athletics in the United States. She was a member of the founding board of the AIAW and one of its early presidents. She and other leaders in the AIAW established the foundation for college women’s athletics, as we know it today. Morrison’s involvement with athletics extended to the national and international level. She served as a member of the executive board of the U.S. Olympic Committee and was a delegate to the second UNESCO Conference on Physical Education and Sport held in Paris. She also participated in the first Pan American Congress for Women in Sports, held in Venezuela during the 1983 Pan American Games.
Morrison’s efforts on behalf of women athletes were recognized in 1985 when she was presented the Katherine Ley Award by the Eastern College Athletic Conference. She was also invited along with four other women in honor of their contributions as pioneers in women’s athletics, to attend “A Celebration of Women’s Sports,” an awards program sponsored by the Women’s Sports Foundation. In 1984, she received the Honor Fellow Award from the National Association for Girls and Women in Sports (NAGWS), an organization which she formerly served as president. The NAGWS award cited her as a “leader, teacher, humanitarian…to whom people owe a great debt of gratitude for her contributions to girls and women in sports.”
Morrison’s other significant accomplishments include her membership to the United States Field Hockey Association and the American Council on Education. She also initiated the development of and was the first President of the South Atlantic Field Hockey-Lacrosse Conference, an affiliate conference of the NCAA. In 1990, James Madison University awarded Dr. Morrison the Doctor of Humanities Degree in recognition of her distinguished career.