Pacers Sports & Entertainment said today it has hired Jim Morris as special adviser to President and CEO Donnie Walsh.
Morris joins PS&E after spending five years as executive director for the United Nations World Food Programme, the world’s largest humanitarian agency.
The Pacers have been dealing with a litany of problems the last three seasons, including players’ involvement in community dust-ups, a spiraling on-court record and dwindling attendance.
“Jim has been one of the most valuable assets this community has had in the last 30 years and we are extremely fortunate to have him as part of the Pacers family,” Walsh said.
In a statement, Morris said, “I have been a fan of the Indiana Pacers from the very beginning. I have the highest expectations to continue to bring that greatness to our city and state and continue to help young people through the Pacers’ initiatives and programs.”
Prior to Morris’ heading WFP, he served as chairman and CEO of IWC Resources Corp. and Indianapolis Water Company from 1989-2002.
From 1973-1989, he served in several capacities for Lilly Endowment Inc., including president. Prior to joining the Endowment, Morris served as administrative assistant and chief of staff to former Mayor Richard Lugar from 1967-1973.
In his new role with PS&E, Morris will expand and enhance the organization’s community core values, outreach and partnerships, the Pacers said.
Local sports marketers said the Morris hiring is a strong move-and an indication that Pacers brass feel they need to mend community relationships.
“This is the best move anybody can make,” said Milt Thompson, president of local sports marketing consultancy Grand Slam Cos. “This is someone who can make community, state, national and world-wide contacts. If anyone can help, it’s Jim Morris.”