McGillis: Up for the challenge

McGillis: Up for the challenge

Bill McGillis speaks to the media after he is introduced as the new athletic director by President Rodney Bennett during a press conference on Thursday, July 18.

Bill McGillis speaks to the media after he is introduced as the new athletic director by President Rodney Bennett during a press conference on Thursday, July 18.
Kelly Dunn/Southern Miss Image Center

Over the summer, The University of Southern Mississippi President Rodney Bennett faced the task of appoint a new athletic director to help revive the university’s athletics program.

He put together a search committee that included former University of Georgia coach and current athletic director Vince Dooley. Dooley and Bennett worked together for two years when Bennett was vice president of student affairs at UGA.

After an extensive search process, Bill McGillis was announced as Southern Miss’ new AD.  McGillis has built a very impressive resume while elevating both The University of Evansville and The University of South Florida’s athletic programs.

During his first year as the associate athletic director for external affairs at USF, the department saw a 92 percent increase in merchandise sales and led the nation with an increase of 52,360 fans in football attendance. This bumped the Bulls into the top 50 in the nation in event attendance.

In 2008, McGillis took over as USF’s executive associate athletic director.  He was responsible for overseeing the $69 million renovation plan for USF’s Athletics District. This included new baseball, softball and soccer stadiums, along with new football and basketball practice facilities.  Renovations were also made to the tennis facilities and the Sun Dome, which is host to both the men’s and women’s basketball teams.

McGillis also headed the university’s sponsorship with IMG College as well an equipment partnership with Under Armour.

There’s no doubting McGillis’ ability to elevate a university’s athletic program and that’s what he plans to do at USM.

“The single most important thing I can do for our program and student athletes is surround them with the right leadership on and off the field,” McGillis said.

For now, he’ll spend time working on building attendance for the Eagles’ football season opener on Aug. 31.

“It’s a very important game for us after the challenges of last season,” McGillis said. “This stadium can be a powerful environment and getting our students there is absolutely essential to our success.”

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