Southern Miss names McClain new Director of Athletics

By CAMAL PETRO,

Southern Miss has found its new Director of Athletics. Jeremy McClain, who was serving as Troy’s Director of Athletics since September 2015, was announced by Southern Miss President Rodney Bennett Thursday. McClain and his family will be introduced Monday, April 8, at 5:30 p.m. at the Trent Lott Center on campus.

He’ll officially start no later than July 1, pending IHL Board approval.

“In January, I began a series of seven listening sessions across the southeastern United States, with the goal of beginning a process to create sustainable change toward a bright future for Southern Miss Athletics,” Bennett said Thursday in a letter. “Following those sessions, it was clear to me that the ideal candidate would be key to ensuring the success of student-athletes in the classroom and in competition; the ideal candidate would be familiar with how The University of Southern Mississippi operates; the ideal candidate would possess a deep understanding of higher education in Mississippi; the ideal candidate would have senior-level administrative experience; the ideal candidate would have an understanding of, and commitment to, growing the financial sustainability of the department; and the ideal candidate’s tenure would be of a length that leaves a lasting and positive effect on Southern Miss Athletics.

“Jeremy McClain is uniquely qualified to lead our Department of Athletics to the successes we all envision. We know Jeremy. Jeremy knows us. Jeremy McClain is a “Southern Miss guy,” who shares the values and ambitions of The University of Southern Mississippi.”

McClain was previously at Southern Miss for three years as the Deputy Director of Athletics, where he oversaw the day-to-day operations of the department. A graduate of Delta State University, he also served as Delta State’s Director of Athletics at Delta State for five years prior to his stints at Southern Miss and Troy.

McClain is a native of Houlka, Mississippi.

“As President, I recognize the unbreakable connections between the success of a university and its athletics program, as well as the success of a university and its community,” Bennett said. “We have momentum in many areas—our enrollment is rising, fundraising has reached record levels, and our reputation and status as a major research university is improving. We all have a stake in the success of The University of Southern Mississippi’s Department of Athletics. I expect that Jeremy will lead the way forward, but we all must do our part.”

Jeff Mitchell was serving as Southern Miss’ interim Director of Athletics for the past four months.

“I also want to express my sincere appreciation for the hard work and leadership of Jeff Mitchell and Brian Morrison in their respective roles as Interim Director of Athletics and Interim Deputy Director of Athletics,” Bennett said. “They have demonstrated a strong sense of loyalty and commitment to the University and to the accomplishments of our student-athletes.”

Here’s Bennett’s full letter regarding the hire:

Message from President Rodney D. Bennett: Jeremy McClain Named USM Director of Athletics

It is my privilege to announce that Jeremy McClain will serve as The University of Southern Mississippi’s next Director of Athletics. Jeremy will officially begin his work no later than July 1, pending IHL Board approval. On Monday, April 8, at 5:30 p.m., I invite you to join me at the Trent Lott National Center on our Hattiesburg campus, where we will welcome Jeremy, his wife Christie, and their children back to The University of Southern Mississippi.

Jeremy returns to USM from Troy University, where he has served as Director of Athletics since September 2015. Previously, he oversaw the day-to-day operations of the Southern Miss Department of Athletics as its Deputy Director for three years. He is a Mississippi native, who also served as Delta State University’s Director of Athletics for five years prior to his arrival at Southern Miss.

In January, I began a series of seven listening sessions across the southeastern United States, with the goal of beginning a process to create sustainable change toward a bright future for Southern Miss Athletics. Following those sessions, it was clear to me that the ideal candidate would be key to ensuring the success of student-athletes in the classroom and in competition; the ideal candidate would be familiar with how The University of Southern Mississippi operates; the ideal candidate would possess a deep understanding of higher education in Mississippi; the ideal candidate would have senior-level administrative experience; the ideal candidate would have an understanding of, and commitment to, growing the financial sustainability of the department; and the ideal candidate’s tenure would be of a length that leaves a lasting and positive effect on Southern Miss Athletics. Jeremy McClain is uniquely qualified to lead our Department of Athletics to the successes we all envision. We know Jeremy. Jeremy knows us. Jeremy McClain is a “Southern Miss guy,” who shares the values and ambitions of The University of Southern Mississippi.

I also want to express my sincere appreciation for the hard work and leadership of Jeff Mitchell and Brian Morrison in their respective roles as Interim Director of Athletics and Interim Deputy Director of Athletics. They have demonstrated a strong sense of loyalty and commitment to the University and to the accomplishments of our student-athletes.

As I stated early on, my expectation is that our student-athletes graduate with a treasured degree and that our athletics programs—all of our athletics programs—win championships and compete in postseason play. Jeremy shares this expectation, and he also shares our vision that The University of Southern Mississippi will become the model for public higher education across the country.

As President, I recognize the unbreakable connections between the success of a university and its athletics program, as well as the success of a university and its community. We have momentum in many areas—our enrollment is rising, fundraising has reached record levels, and our reputation and status as a major research university is improving. We all have a stake in the success of The University of Southern Mississippi’s Department of Athletics. I expect that Jeremy will lead the way forward, but we all must do our part.

Please join me in welcoming Jeremy McClain back home to The University of Southern Mississippi.

Rodney D. Bennett

President

The University of Southern Mississippi

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