Dr. Aubrey K. Lucas has announced that Jeff Hammond will serve as The University of Southern Mississippi’s next athletics director, pending approval of the Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning.
Lucas, the University’s president emeritus who will also serve as interim president beginning July 1, made the announcement Wednesday during a press conference at the Trent Lott Center on the University’s Hattiesburg campus. Hammond has served as interim athletics director since January.
“Jeff Hammond has been an important part of our University’s past as an outstanding student-athlete and our present as a staff member whose energy and passion for Southern Miss knows no end,” Lucas said. “Today, we announce that he will also play a significant role in shaping the future of Southern Miss athletics. We know Jeff’s love for our University, his determination, and his proven leadership make him capable of meeting any and all challenges we face or may face in the future.”
Hammond, a former Southern Miss student-athlete and football standout, joined the Golden Eagle athletics staff as a senior associate director of athletics in July 2010 following a distinguished military career. In his role at Southern Miss, he has worked to raise funds and plan the celebration of 100 years of athletics, “A Century of Championships and Commencements.”
“I am most grateful to The University of Southern Mississippi for the opportunity to lead our athletics department into the future,” Hammond said. “I appreciate the trust of both (University President) Dr. (Martha) Saunders and Dr. Lucas, and the support of many wonderful Golden Eagle supporters across the state of Mississippi and throughout the world. My commitment is to lead by example, from the front, always demonstrating a love for our University and the moral courage always to do the right thing. It is time to come together as a University team and chart a course into the future on the eve of the 100th anniversary of Southern Miss athletics.”
Hammond began his military career in 1978 following graduation from Southern Miss, where he earned bachelor's and master's degrees in special education. He was a quarterback from 1976 to 1978 and team captain for the Golden Eagle football team.
Upon graduation, Hammond was commissioned as a second lieutenant, and eventually rose to the rank of major general. During his military service, he commanded a division of 28,000 soldiers and their families at war for 15 months, resulting in long-term sustainable security across Baghdad, Iraq. His professional military decorations include earning the Distinguished Service Medal twice, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star three times. In addition, he earned the Combat Action Badge and was awarded the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Army Staff Identification badges.
Hammond and his wife Diane, who is also a Southern Miss graduate, have been married for 29 years. They have two children, Michael and Megan.
The athletics director position opened in December, when Richard Giannini announced he was stepping down from that role. Giannini worked in that role for 13 years and continues to serve the University in an advisory capacity.