McMurry's Parris steps down as Track and Field coach
ABILENE, Texas —
McMurry University Head Track and Field Coach Brad Parris has announced that he has resigned his position in order to pursue a new career opportunity in the private sector, capping a storied career with the Maroon & White. Parris will remain with the War Hawks program through July, while the search for his successor is on-going.
“We are grateful for Coach Parris’ dedication and commitment to McMurry’s track & field programs,” McM Director of Athletics Sam Ferguson said. “He has played an integral role in the success of our program. While we will miss his day-to-day presence on our campus, and we know that McMurry is important to him, we also understand that his family is his number one priority. This new opportunity will afford him more time with his family, so we are excited for him and wish him well.”
Officially, Parris has had an association with the McMurry program dating back to 1995 when he began as a student…but in reality, it goes back much further than that. Long before enrolling at McMurry, Parris’ roots were well-entrenched. Both of his parents attended and graduated from McMurry and, as time passed, he regularly made the campus his childhood playground (as he puts it: “I was the little kid jumping around on the landing pads at the high jump and pole vault pits”). His mother – Dr. Pug Parris – has taught at McMurry for 40 years and his father – Rickey – was a four-time NAIA national champion in the pole vault for the track team.
As for his own athletic career, Brad Parris’ credentials were impeccable. He earned “bragging rights” at the family dinner table by winning five NCAA Division III national pole vault championships - besting his Dad by one - with three straight indoor titles from 1999-2001 and two outdoor championships in 1999 and 2000. He still holds McM’s pole vault records for both indoors (17’ 5 ¾’) and outdoors (17’ 9 ¼”), ranking No. 4 outdoors and No. 6 indoors on the NCAA Division III all-time list.
In addition, to being named the regional athlete of the year in 1999, he was recognized as the top performer at the national indoor meet in 2000 and he was named the American Southwest Conference Male Athlete of the Year in 2000. (Parris only competed for three seasons, as McMurry did not sponsor track and field as a sport during his first year in college).
Parris also set the bar high in the classroom, earning three academic all-American honors and graduating with a 4.0 grade point average from McMurry. He was on the Dean’s List every semester of his collegiate career.
Upon graduating from McM, Parris began working as an assistant coach with the track program, while also concurrently teaching for the Anson ISD (2001-03) and Merkel ISD (2003-04). In 2004, Parris was hired as a full-time assistant coach for McMurry’s track and field teams and held that position until his elevation to head coach to replace legendary Barbara Crousen (who retired in May of 2014 after 16 seasons at the McM helm). As an assistant under Crousen, Parris had a hand in McMurry’s two NCAA Division III men’s outdoor national championships in 2008 and 2012.
Since taking the reins from Crousen, Parris has led McM teams to three American Southwest Conference titles (men’s in 2017; women’s in 2017 and 2018). The War Hawks’ women’s squad also finished second at the National Christian College Athletic Association outdoor championships in 2018.
“It’s been a very exciting fourteen years being a part of McMurry Track and Field,” Parris said. “A special thanks must first go out to my family, especially my wife Ann and children Braxton, Brody, and Reagan for being so positive and supportive during this journey. They are my number one fans and I know they will miss the War Hawks. I’ve worked with so many good people, and there have been memories made that will last a lifetime, but the best part of my time here - even more than the tangible national trophies and countless conference championship rings - has been being able to spend each day with so many incredible scholar-athletes. They made the job not feel like a job at all.”
Parris earned his Bachelor of Science degree in multidisciplinary studies, with a concentration in biology, from McMurry (2001). He earned his master’s degree in sports management from Hardin-Simmons University (2011). Parris was a 1995 graduate of Abilene High School.
“Coach Crousen and Coach Parris have built a very special program at McMurry so we are confident that our candidate pool will be a strong one,” Ferguson said of the search for a replacement. “McMurry University – especially our track and field program - is a great career destination and I am confident that we will attract a coach who is committed to Developing Champions for Life, as well as to excellence in academics and competition.
“It is going to be an exciting time for our new coach to take the reins, especially as the University reinforces its commitment to the program with the investment into a brand new track surface this summer and our anticipated full membership back into NCAA Division III this fall. There are many great things ahead for our scholar-athletes.”