The Indiana Pacers recently announced front-office changes with Jim Morris moving to vice chairman from president of Pacers Sports & Entertainment and Rick Fuson becoming president in addition to his role as chief operating officer.
The job title moves were announced Sept. 30 by owner Herb Simon, also PS&E Chairman and CEO, and are effective immediately.
“This is not about change but continuity,” Simon said in an email release. “Jim Morris will maintain his important leadership role in fostering and sustaining relationships in the community and throughout the state of Indiana. Rick Fuson over many years has shown himself to be a brilliant manager and trusted steward of PS&E and all its assets and will continue to do so.”
Fuson, 61, joined the Pacers in 1984 as director of special events for Market Square Arena. He oversaw the construction and opening of Bankers Life Fieldhouse in 1999. He was promoted to executive senior vice president of PS&E in 2001 and chief operating officer in 2008. He is responsible for the operation of all aspects of the business and facilities elements of PS&E and Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Morris, 71, a long-time community and civic leader and one of the principle architects of Indianapolis’ highly acclaimed strategy of using sports to foster economic development, joined PS&E in 2007 as a special consultant to then President/CEO Donnie Walsh. He was named president in 2008.
“I am honored and humbled by this tremendous opportunity,” Fuson said. “We are extremely fortunate to have Jim Morris in the role of vice chairman. He is an exemplary representative of PS&E and a pillar of our community. I am grateful to have worked side by side with Jim, Donnie Walsh, Larry Bird, Kelly Krauskopf and the great people of PS&E for over 30 years and I so look forward to our future. There is no better owner in sports than Herb Simon and his commitment to our franchises and community makes this a great place to work and live.”
Morris offered this statement: “Pacers Sports & Entertainment was strong before I got here and I am proud of every piece of the operation: the ongoing success of the Pacers and the Indiana Fever, the multitude of entertainment events we host, the sales and marketing team, the finance department, our community relations efforts and Bankers Life Fieldhouse itself, which is operated so efficiently and magnificently. It is an absolute thrill to work for an extraordinary owner in Herb Simon, and with such gifted people as Rick Fuson, Larry Bird and Kelly Krauskopf. PS&E is in terrific hands.”
Fuson is a life-long Indianapolis resident and Indiana University graduate. Through the years, Fuson has been active in pursuing major events for Bankers Life Fieldhouse and the City of Indianapolis. He served as co-chair of the 2012 Super Bowl Village Committee.
He was a member of the Executive Committee for the 1991 World Gymnastics Championships and served as chairman for the opening ceremonies. He was co-chairman of special events for the 1991, 1997 and 2000 NCAA Final Four and served on the Local Organizing Committee for the 2006 and 2010 NCAA Final Four. He produced the opening ceremonies of the 2001 World Police & Fire Games and the closing ceremonies of the Pan American Games in 1987. Fuson also served on the Local Organizing Committee for the 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008-2012 and 2014 Big Ten Basketball Championships, 2002 FIBA World Basketball Championships, and 2004 FINA World Swimming Championship.
Fuson has received such honors as recipient of the Indianapolis Ambassadors 1988 Community Service Award, Indianapolis Business Journal’s “Who’s Who in Hospitality”, ”Who’s Who in Sports” and “Forty Under Forty.” He has also been active with the Indianapolis Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the 1985 NBA All-Star weekend, the grand opening of the Indianapolis Zoo in 1988, the White River Park State Games and Indianapolis Downtown Space 2010.
He is a professional member of the International Association of Assembly Managers. He currently serves on the board of directors for Indianapolis Downtown, Inc., Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Indianapolis Urban League and Visit Indy. He is an advisor to the Indiana Sports Corporation Board of Directors and currently serves as chair of the Pacers Foundation.
Fuson has three children and two grandchildren.
Morris also is a graduate of Indiana University with a master’s degree from Butler University. A Terre Haute native, Morris has spent much of his life in Indianapolis in a variety of key positions. He started with American Fletcher National Bank in 1965 and from 1967 to 1973 served former Mayor Richard G. Lugar as chief of staff. In 1973, he went to the Lilly Endowment, serving as its president from 1984 to 1988 and from 1989 to 2002; he was the chairman and chief executive officer for IWC Resources Corporation and Indianapolis Water Company.
Before joining PS&E, Morris was the executive director for five years for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) where he led the world’s largest humanitarian agency from its headquarters in Rome. That took him to many struggling parts of the world as he worked on behalf of the hungry and poor, particularly children. He also served as the Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the humanitarian crisis in southern Africa during those same years.
Morris has received many honors, including 18 honorary degrees. His public service includes serving as a trustee and board chairman for both Indiana State University and Indiana University. He serves on the National Advisory Board for the Boy Scouts of America, was treasurer of the U.S. Olympic Committee and currently as treasurer of the United States Gymnastics Federation, Chairman of the Board for Riley Children’s Foundation, and has been a member of the Board of Governors of the American Red Cross. He serves on the boards of One America, Old National Bank, Hulman & Company and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Elanco and the Indianapolis Power and Light Advisory Board.
Morris is married to Jackie and they have three children and eight grandchildren.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.