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Retiring in Style

Two veteran coaches who made indelible marks at Tufts during more than two decades of service to the university retired over the summer. Jim Watson stepped down after 24 years as tennis coach, and men’s cross-country and track-and-field coach Connie Putnam also announced his retirement after 21 years.

Both directed programs that received recognition for academics, athletics, and sportsmanship. Each retired in style. Putnam earned New England Coach of the Year honors in cross-country and indoor track and field last season. The men’s tennis team presented Watson with the 200th victory of his career in a match against Boston University in the spring.

Watson guided the men’s tennis team to six NCAA Tournament appearances while the women’s team won five New England titles and gained four NCAA Tournament berths during his tenure. Also a professor in the romance languages department, he earned two New England Coach of the Year awards with the men (1989 and 1994) and two with the women (1989 and 2000).

Succeeding Watson will be Kate Bayard, a 1996 graduate of Harvard University, who was hired as the new head coach of the women’s tennis and squash programs in a department reorganization following Watson’s departure. She was the head tennis professional at Dedham Country and Polo Club 2001–2005.

Putnam coached the cross-country team to the NCAA national championship race six times in the past seven years. His track-and-field teams sent competitors to the NCAA indoor and outdoor championships every year. In addition to his coaching success, he was instrumental in the development of the top-notch facilities Tufts has for cross-country, both indoor and outdoor seasons.

Ethan Barron, a 2001 graduate of Middlebury College and Putnam’s assistant for the past three seasons, was promoted to the interim positions of head coach of cross-country and associate head coach of track and field. Barron was a captain, Academic All-American, school record holder, and All-American on the Panther track team.