George Watts enters his 26th season with the Tennessee cross country program and his 16th as head coach of the men's team.
During his tenure, the Vol program has made five trips to the NCAA Championships and earned runner-up finishes at three SEC Championship meets.
A number of individuals also have enjoyed great success under the long-time mentor. Watts can take credit for 25 All-SEC citations, three SEC All-Freshman honorees and three All-America performers in his 15 seasons at the helm of the Vols.
In the last four seasons alone, Watts has directed seven different athletes to a total of 13 All-SEC or All-South Region honors. The 2010 team's top returner, Michael Spooner, was an all-region performer in 2008 and 2009, and a total of four Vols earned all-region honors in 2006, more than any other team in the meet that season.
A year ago, Spooner raced to his second straight berth on the All-SEC Team, garnering second team accolades once again for his finish of 11th. Freshman Leoule Degfae made the SEC All-Freshman Team for his 33rd-place outcome.
Watts' last team to earn an NCAA Championship bid was the 2005 squad. Zach Sabatino snared All-America honors with his 23rd-place finish and Watts garnered Mideast Region Distance Assistant Coach of the Year honors from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) for his efforts. Four runners were named all-region that season as well.
In 2001, the Tennessee harriers reached the NCAA Championships for the first time since 1998 despite a lack of experience on the roster. The Vols improved again the next year, as Watts led the Vols to the NCAA Championships for the second time in as many years, marking the first time Tennessee ran in the NCAAs as a team in consecutive years since 1994-95.
Tennessee's NCAA team highlight under Watts came in 1995 when the Vols captured a 12th-place finish and the District III team championship, earning Watts District Coach of the Year honors for leading his charges. He directed Tony Cosey to a second district title and a seventh-place, All-America finish at the NCAA Championships that season.
As an assistant from 1985-94, Watts proved an integral part of leading Tennessee to SEC titles in 1985, 1989 and 1990. Ten Vols earned individual All-America honors during his time as an assistant, and Todd Williams was crowned SEC Champion twice. Eleven runners placed in the top five at the conference race during that time frame as well.
Watts' success also has spilled over to the track, where his athletes have combined to win 33 All-America certificates. As an assistant coach, he helped lead UT to the 2007 SEC Outdoor Championship. Watts also played a crucial role on coaching staffs that directed the Vols to NCAA Outdoor Championships in 1991 and 2001, in addition to the NCAA indoor title in 2002. Along with the 2001 and 2002 SEC outdoor titles, Watts' athletes played a significant role in helping the Vols capture the 1996 SEC Indoor Championship.
The number of Watts-coached athletes who have excelled beyond Tennessee is worth noting as well. Most recently, steeplechaser Anthony Famiglietti competed in the 2008 Olympics. He also participated in the 2004 Games after winning gold medals at the 2001 World University Games and 2002 USA Outdoor Championships.
Cosey competed in the steeplechase at the 2000 Olympics, and José Parrilla, who owns the school record in the 800m, ran in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics.
Williams, after completing a stellar collegiate career under Watts and former Vol coach Doug Brown, qualified for the 1992 and 1996 Olympics.
A native of Alexandria, Va., and a product of Thomas Edison High School, Watts graduated from Tennessee in 1983 with a B.S. in history. He and his wife, Karen, have a daughter, Katie.
During Watts' days at Rocky Top, he earned All-America honors for cross country in 1977 and indoor track in 1978 (three-mile run). He captured four SEC crowns as a Vol: the 1976 outdoor three-mile and six-mile championships, the 1977 outdoor 10,000m crown and the 1978 indoor three-mile title.
Watts remains the SEC record holder in the three-mile run, clocking a 13:32.6 readout in 1978. He also holds three Tennessee freshman records in the indoor two-mile (8:42.6), three-mile (13:44.4) and outdoor 10,000m (29:04.05).
*Thomas Edison High School - Alexandria, Va.
*B.S., History, 1983 - University of Tennessee
Athletic Career and Honors
* Track and Field, Cross Country, 1975-78
* Cross Country All-American, 1977
* Indoor All-American - Three Mile, 1978
* SEC Champion - Three Mile and Six Mile, 1976
* SEC Champion - 10,000, 1977
* SEC Champion - Three Mile, 1978
Cross Country Coaching Honors
*District III Coach of the Year, 1995
* South Region Co-Coach of the Year, 2001
* South Region Coach of the Year, 2002
Track Coaching Career and Honors
* Assistant Coach - Tennessee, 1985-92
* Administrative Assistant - Tennessee, 1992-95
* Assistant Head Coach - Tennessee, 1996-2009
* Associate Head Coach - Tennessee, 2009-2010
* Mideast Region Male Assistant Coach of the Year (Distances), 2006