Matt Johnson has been the interim athletic director for the University of Minnesota Morris since August 2018. The interim portion of the title was dropped this week as it was announced by the university that Johnson has been hired to fill the role permanently.
To Johnson, the position has never been interim.
“This was never an interim job, not to me,” Johnson said in an interview with the Stevens County Times.
Johnson still coached football in the fall of 2018. Balancing the two roles was tough, Johnson said.
“I put a lot of time and effort into football and I’ll always have a passion for that. But I knew that this is what I wanted to do and frankly where I had my gift with leading people and doing this type of stuff,” Johnson said.
Johnson got to work right away with the renaming of the Cougar Sports Center and Dacotah Deck along with increasing sponsorships and fundraising efforts.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Sandra Olson-Loy praised Johnson’s demonstrated ability to bring new ideas to fruition through creative partnerships, the news release said. In his time as the interim director of athletics, Johnson secured Cougar Athletic’s first exclusive gear and apparel deal with Under Armour and BSN Sports, launched the rebranding of the Cougar Sports Center, increased participation and funding from the Cougar Alumni Golf Classic, and rebranded the Cougar Athletic Association to the Cougar Club.
“The committee was impressed with the extremely high level of support for Matt we saw in this search process. His collaborative leadership style, commitment to the academic and athletic success of student athletes, and record of accomplishment in advancing our student athletes’ experiences are very highly regarded on our campus and in our community. I’m excited for our future in Cougar Athletics,” said Tracey Anderson in the UMN Morris news release. Anderson is an associate professor of biology and faculty athletic representative and chaired the national search.
Johnson is a 2003 graduate of the University of Minnesota Morris.