HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The University of Southern Miss has found a new Athletic Director.
Jon Gilbert has been named to the position.
Gilbert is the 7th Athletic Director in Southern Miss history, after replacing former Athletic Director, Bill McGillis.
The university held a press conference Tuesday to welcome in the new man in charge of Southern Miss Athletics.
Gilbert said "one of the first things that I'll do when I return to the Hattiesburg community is I want to walk in their footprint. I want to walk where they walk. I want to go in their residence halls. I want to go in their dining facilities. I want to see everything that they see. When mom's and dad's come to campus, they don't ask to see what a sky box looks like. They want to know where's my baby going to eat, where she's going to sleep, and where they're going to study. So, I will walk the student-athlete footprint, look at what we have and see how we can build upon that."
This is a press release from the University of Southern Miss
University of Southern Mississippi President Rodney D. Bennett has announced the hiring of Jon Gilbert as the University’s Director of Athletics.
Gilbert, who will begin his work no later than March 1, comes to Southern Miss from the University of Tennessee, where he has served as Executive Senior Associate Athletics Director since 2011.
“I am excited about the future of Southern Miss Athletics under the leadership of Jon Gilbert,” said President Bennett. “He brings to The University of Southern Mississippi an extensive background in athletic administration at the highest levels. As we continue building upon the historic success of our programs, Jon Gilbert is the right person for the right time.”
At Tennessee, Gilbert has been responsible for all facets of day-to-day Department of Athletics operations. His role included leadership duties across the department from strategic planning and management, to external operations, academic affairs, and more.
“I am extremely humbled and honored with the opportunity to be the Director of Athletics at Southern Miss, and I want to thank President Bennett for the confidence he has in me to lead the athletic department,” Gilbert said. “I would also like to thank the athletic director interview committee for their time and effort throughout the process.”
Under Gilbert’s leadership, Tennessee student-athletes averaged over a 3.0 grade point average, and all programs exceeded the NCAA Academic Progress Rate standard. Gilbert has demonstrated an ability to develop and implement creative ideas; for example, he was instrumental in negotiations for the university to host a football game at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2016. He also trimmed operating expenses in multiple areas, negotiated a multi-million-dollar apparel deal for athletic programs, and planned, installed and managed the department’s cost-of-attendance program.
“I’m looking forward to getting to know our staff, our student-athletes and coaches, and the great supporters of the Golden Eagles,” Gilbert added. “Our goal is to provide our student-athletes with the best college experience possible, while having success on the field, in the classroom and in the community. We understand there is plenty of work to be done, but myself and our staff are going to work tirelessly to take Southern Miss to new heights.”
Prior to his experience at Tennessee, Gilbert worked for nearly 17 years at the University of Alabama, serving in multiple roles, including Associate Athletics Director from 2009 to 2011. There, the development office generated $82 million in gifts and pledges for the Crimson Tide Foundation, and Gilbert had oversight of the marketing and promotions department, as well as all facets of the ticket office and seat licensing program.
“Southern Miss is getting an athletics director who is both a quality person and an outstanding leader,” Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey said. “I have known Jon throughout his time at Alabama and Tennessee, and he brings the right kind of vision and leadership that will serve Southern Miss well. I would like to wish Jon, his wife Katie, and their family well.”
Gilbert is a graduate of Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, N.C., where he was a three-year letterman on the football team. He earned a master's degree in Sport Administration at Eastern Kentucky University. He and his wife, Katie, have two teenage children, daughter Larsen and son Kent.
What others at the University of Tennessee are saying about Jon Gilbert
University of Tennessee
Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics
“This is a red-letter day for Southern Miss Athletics and The University of Southern Mississippi with the hiring of Jon Gilbert as Director of Athletics. In nearly nine years of working with Jon, I have watched a terrific person grow into an outstanding administrator who has been more than ready to sit in a director of athletics chair for some time now.
“Employees at the University and the people of the Hattiesburg community are getting a wonderful family and a tremendous leader to join their own family. We wish Jon, Katie, Kent and Larsen the very best as they begin their new journey.”
University of Tennessee
Football Head Coach
“Jon Gilbert is an absolutely great hire for Southern Miss and their athletics department. I have been fortunate to work with Jon over the past four years and really appreciate everything he has done for the football program. Most importantly, I’m glad to call him a friend.
“Jon is relentless in his approach, positive in his dealings with people, but also direct in making sure the job gets done. His ability to connect with donors, administrators, employees and coaches will be of great benefit to Southern Miss. He has a vision of how he wants to run a department with his top priority always being what’s best for the student-athlete. He’s just a model professional and we are going to miss him in Knoxville.”
University of Tennessee
Men’s Basketball Head Coach
“Congratulations to Southern Mississippi on their selection of Jon Gilbert as their next athletics director. We are going to miss him greatly at the University of Tennessee. He has been a critical part of our basketball program over the past two years and brought valuable expertise and knowledge to our staff.
“Jon is very detailed, very specific in what he does and how he does it, and possesses a tremendous understanding of what it takes to lead a successful athletics department. He’s positive and team-oriented, exactly what you want in an administrator and leader of your department. He has been mentored and guided by some of the best leaders in this business. I truly believe Southern Miss selected the perfect person to reach their goals and I am extremely happy for Jon and his family.”
University of Tennessee
Women’s Basketball Head Coach
“Jon Gilbert will be a great leader for Southern Miss and they are very fortunate to add someone of his caliber. In spending time with Jon, people will quickly understand his passion for college athletics and his strong understanding of running an athletics department. Jon does a great job of getting everybody on the same page and making sure everybody is moving in the right direction. He invests in the people around him and it shows with how highly people think of him in our building. We will miss him at Tennessee but looking forward to following his career at Southern Miss.”