Not many division one schools, if any, will have their athletic director help setting up hurdles at a track meet. Yet, new Athletic Director Jon Gilbert did exactly that at the Southern Miss Invitational.
Gilbert has been seen at almost every athletic event so far in the spring semester. On April 1, he found himself one minute at the softball game and then next at a track meet.
In just three weeks, Gilbert has tried to make his presence known amongst the student athletes.
“I really think it is important for our coaches and our student-athletes to see me [and] that’s really why I’m here,” Gilbert said. “I’m not here for anyone else. I want to make sure that our coaches know that I support them and our student-athletes across all programs know that I support them.”
Gilbert said on the announcement of his hiring that he wanted to “walk the footsteps of the student-athlete.”
“I have walked where they live,” Gilbert said. “We have really good things they have access to, but also things that we can improve on for them.”
While trying to understand the student-athlete and make his presence known in the community, Gilbert has also been trying to comprehend every aspect of the school from an administration standpoint in his time here.
“I’m still on a listening and learning tour,” Gilbert said. “I’m really trying to take it all in and get to know people [and] meeting with all of our staff individually.”
Gilbert has showed so far the work ethic that he will put into this school. The most notable factor that attracted Gilbert to USM was the Golden Eagle ideology which he had observed and noticed. Already being here in such a short time, Gilbert has shown his understanding of USM athletics.
“Playing with a chip on your shoulder, being the underdog, doing more with less is woven into the fiber of who we are,” Gilbert said. “I see that every day and I’m proud to be a part of that.”
Gilbert has not only shown a “compassion” toward the student-athletes, but shows that they are not just a number.
From what can be seen so far, Gilbert seems to be the man that Southern Miss fans can rely on and have faith in. His attention toward bettering the lives of the student-athletes is not only key in the image of the university, but vital into attracting the most talented athletes to the university.
Gilbert is a man who seems to not want to use Southern Miss as a platform for his career, but intends to create Southern Miss as a consistent, thriving powerhouse in the Southeast.
“Really excited about where our programs are headed,” Gilbert said. “I’m just excited to be here and get started.”