Southern Miss must begin a search for a new athletic director to replace Bill McGillis, who will leave to accept a similar post at the University of San Diego.

McGillis has been the USM athletic director since July 18, 2013. He was the executive associate athletic director at South Florida for six years before that.

McGillis will be the Associate Vice President and Executive Director of Athletics at the University of San Diego.  He will depart Southern Miss in mid-January and begin his tenure at USD on January 23.

“I am grateful to Bill for his good work here, and I am excited for this new opportunity for Bill and his family,” said USM President Rodney D. Bennett.  “I want to reaffirm my commitment to athletics and the critical role it plays not only in enhancing the overall student experience, but also in elevating the profile of the institution and bolstering our region and state as an economic driver for south Mississippi.”

Bennett indicated his intention to work with a national search firm specializing in the placement of athletic directors to refill the position.

“It has been an unbelievable privilege and true blessing to serve as the Director of Athletics at Southern Miss and to call Hattiesburg our home,” McGillis began in an  open letter to USM’s fan base.  “Quite simply, we are at a point in our life and career at which resetting our priorities is important.  The University of San Diego presents a very special opportunity to return to the West Coast to be near both my, and my wife Margie’s, entire families and to serve one of the great Catholic universities in America – critical factors that make this the right decision for our family.”

“We will leave Southern Miss with a heavy heart and very mixed emotions.  Margie and I will be forever grateful for the kindness extended to our family throughout our time here, the special friendships we have made, and for the wonderful support of our program and student-athletes…”

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Rick Cleveland, a native of Hattiesburg and resident of Jackson, has been Mississippi Today’s sports columnist since 2016. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s in journalism, Rick has worked for the Monroe (La.) News Star World, Jackson Daily News and Clarion Ledger. He was sports editor of Hattiesburg American, executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. His work as a syndicated columnist and celebrated sports writer has appeared in numerous magazines, periodicals and newspapers.
Rick has been recognized 13 times as Mississippi Sports Writer of the Year, and is recipient of multiple awards and honors for his reporting and writing.