On Jan. 17, Athletic Director Bill McGillis spent his last day as a Golden Eagles: He will be leaving The University of Southern Missisissppi for California.
On Dec. 19, The University of Southern Mississippi announced that Athletic Director Bill McGillis had accepted the position of Associate Vice President and Executive Director of Athletics at the University of San Diego. Search firm Eastman & Beaudine will head the hunt for the next athletic director at Southern Miss.
Director of Strength and Conditioning Zac Woodfin will serve as interim Athletic Director while the search for a new director begins, but he will not be a candidate to replace McGillis.
“[My family and I] will leave Southern Miss with a heavy heart and very mixed emotions,” McGillis said. “Quite simply, we are at a point in our life and career at which resetting our priorities is important.”
McGillis was hired in 2013 after the Golden Eagle athletic programs had been suffering, most notably the football team’s winless season in 2012.
During his tenure, McGillis saw several athletic accomplishments. The football team made a conference championship appearance and two bowl appearances. He hired softball’s Wendy Hogue, who led the team to its first 30-win season since 2004 and won the C-USA West Division finishing the season in the conference tournament semifinals.
Volleyball finished with another 20-plus win season under Head Coach Amanda Berkley. The baseball team found success under McGillis by winning the conference tournament and making a NCAA regional for the first time since 2011.
McGillis’ financial strides stemmed from football’s success by posting the highest attendance in C-USA this past season. In 2015, he saw an increase of season ticket sales by 30 percent and attracted the largest football crowd in Southern Miss history during the game against Mississippi State in 2015. McGillis oversaw the renovations of the $1.2 million locker room for the football team and the $2 million renovation of the baseball weight room. He also helped Southern Miss host several conference tournaments in his tenure.
According to USM’s Chief Communication Officer Jim Coll, USM President Rodney Bennett has been forming an interview committee to assist with the vetting of candidates for the position. The committee will represent various USM constituencies, all of whom are familiar with the university and knowledgeable of the qualities a Director of Athletics must possess for Southern Miss to be as successful as possible.
“The search has attracted a broad and strong applicant pool, as the position is proving to be a desirable opportunity,” Coll said. “The university’s recent championships on the playing fields, the successes of student-athletes and coaches and established university leadership are all proving to be positive factors in the current search.”
“I want to reaffirm my commitment to athletics and the critical role it plays,” Bennett said in a press release. “I intend to engage the services of a national search firm who specializes in the placement of athletics directors with the hope of identifying an individual to serve as our Director of Athletics as quickly as possible.”