Southern Miss

Hammond thanks USM boosters in email

Southern Miss president Rodney Bennett announced last week that Jeff Hammond will not be retained as the school's athletic director once his contract runs out on June 30.

Hammond sent an email to the school's boosters Thursday thanking them for their support in his 1 1/2 years on the job as athletic director.

He gave no indication on whether he plans to take up Bennett's offer to work elsewhere at the university.

Here is the text of Hammond's email to USM boosters:

Dear Golden Eagle – I would like to take a moment of your time to express my regards for your support over the last 18-months during which I had the honor serving as your Athletics Director. My Family and I have experienced two wonderful opportunities in life to serve others (Soldiers and their Families, and Our USM Family) and we treasured every moment with you. Thank you for supporting Our Student-Athletes and caring through both the good and challenging times. We greatly value each and every one of you as my personal commitment has always been to lead a values based program you can be proud of.

I want to express special admiration for the remarkable support of our University Faculty and Staff. Our University exists to educate students and prepare them for an ever changing world. My view, we have the most dedicated and caring faculty anywhere across the Nation and for that we are most blessed because they teach from the heart. A special "shout out" thank you to the Faculty-Senate for believing in me and trusting Athletics under my leadership. An equally special thank you to the University Staff for your care and professionalism.

It is equally important that you are made aware of what I affectionately refer to as our "credentials," the wonderful young men and women (led by Jeremy McClain) who serve on the Southern Miss Athletics Staff. These folks inspired me each day and made life a joy. Our young Athletics Staff set conditions for an exceptionally bright future through their steadfast and loyal attention to detail and long hours ensuring things are done right. This includes: implementation of a programmed budget review process; preparation of a three year balanced budget program; renegotiation of three important Athletics contracts; facility improvements (football surface/new scoreboard, track, golf training facility, tennis court resurfacing, baseball field resurfacing); completion of an incredible fundraising year and more. These remarkable staff members (to include my Executive Assistant Rebecca Johnston and volunteer Larry Davis) along with so many others "Made A Difference” that will result in a smooth and reasonably seamless transition to new Athletics Director leadership.

I was blessed to be surrounded by Coaches who understand young people and the importance of leading from the front with Dignity, and Respect. Thanks to each of you for what you do in nurturing and developing young men, and women. Our Coaches are "follow me" leaders who along with their Families sacrifice much to successfully compete (both inside and outside the classroom) in honor of your Black and Gold. Please stand by them in both victory and defeat.

I stand in awe of our incredible Student Body and in particular, the Student-Athletes. Thank you to each freshman through senior and graduate student for selecting Southern Miss as your University home, and your spirited efforts to support our sports teams (our Student-Eagle Club is the envy of many other Universities) Our Student-Athletes have been challenged as leaders to be socially responsible, academically focused and prepared to learn "how to" rather than "what to" think. I am proud of all these youngsters for "doing the right thing."

Please “lean forward” to August 31st for the opening football game of the season where you will be amazed at what your Athletics Staff has created for your enjoyment. Furthermore, please be aware that we have someone special leading our football team – Todd Monken (supported by an incredible First Lady of USM Football – Terri) is a remarkable leader, man of character and he possesses the moral courage to do the right thing. You will enjoy his brand of football and care.

I have always been taught to leave things better than when you started and I trust that this has been accomplished. In this regard, I believe Our Athletics Program is in fine shape as we move onward to the future. Please stand beside our Student-Athletes and demonstrate to them that we are an incredible “Team of Teams.”

Finally, we came home to Hattiesburg to help Our University via a strong sense of love, loyalty and integrity. We met wonderful and caring community leaders such as Spencer Adams and Richard Johnston (both volunteered as Athletics Foundation Presidents), Chuck and Rita Scianna, Tom and Jim Duff along with many others such as Dick Vogel, Stan Hewitt and John Hornall who love Our University. I particularly want to recognize our Circle of Champions and the legions of Golden Eagle supporters who work long hours on limited budgets yet somehow find a way to join the Eagle Club, purchase tickets and support our Student-Athletes. God bless all of you and please forgive me for failing to mention each of you in this message.

In closing, I want to express my love to Diane.She has been everything and more as a proud USM grad, wife, best friend and active Athletics Ambassador. Her parents (Paul and Ruth Centanni) along with her sister Donna Delmas, Fathers Pat and Tommy, my big brother Joe and my children Michael, and Megan have been there for me, kept me grounded and above all, always supported USM Athletics.

May God please continue to bless Our Nation and Our University.

Please take care of each other as Southern Miss Athletics Rises to the Top.

Dignity and Respect – Jeff Hammond