Jon Gilbert, executive senior associate athletic director at the University of Tennessee, is the new athletic director at Southern Miss.

Gilbert was introduced at a press conference Tuesday morning.


He succeeds Bill McGillis, who left USM last month to become the athletic director at the University of San Diego.

Gilbert has been at Tennessee since 2011. Before that, he was the associate athletic director for external operations at Alabama. He served various roles at Alabama including external operations, athletics development, facilities, event management, ticket office and oversight of numerous sports.

Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin, formerly of Mississippi State, is known to have recommended Gilbert for the USM job.

“Jon is a hard-working guy who understands all the facets that make a successful athletic program,” Stricklin said. “I’m excited to to see a friend – someone I’ve gotten to know well during the last 10-plus years in the SEC – get an opportunity like USM. I know he’ll do a fine job in Hattiesburg leading the Golden Eagles.”

Gilbert is a graduate of Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, N.C., where he was a three-year letterman on the football team. He also earned his master’s degree at Eastern Kentucky University, where he served as a graduate assistant under legendary EKU football coach Roy Kidd.

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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.