Keeping Score

USM president: No decision yet on Hammond

New Southern Miss president Rodney Bennett said Tuesday that no decision has been made on the future of the school's athletic director, Jeff Hammond.

Hammond's one-year contract is set to expire on June 30.

Bennett, who officially became the university's president on April 1, admitted that the issue of athletic director has been a polarizing one.

There are USM supporters who strongly support Hammond, but there is also a faction that disapproves of the former Army Major General.

“Athletics and sports bring out a lot of passion and conviction, and that's not necessarily a bad thing,” Bennett said. “We just have to channel that energy into ways that can be productive.”

Bennett opened up the possibility of Hammond working on a month-to-month contract if he does not make a decision by June 30, but he emphasized that he wants to step up and address the matter.

“I am able and willing to make hard decisions,” Bennett said. “I'm not going to shy away from what needs to be done to move the University of Southern Mississippi forward. I want to be fair and I want to give due diligence.”