HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The search for the next athletic director at The University of Southern Mississippi will be picking up steam.
The university released a statement Thursday afternoon outlining upcoming steps toward finding Bill McGillis' successor.
McGillis announced Dec. 19 that he was leaving USM after three-plus years to take a position at the University of San Diego. McGillis' final day in at the helm in Hattiesburg is Jan. 17.
In December 2016, USM strength and conditioning Zac Woodfin was tapped by USM President Rodney Bennett to serve as interim athletic director until McGillis' replacement was found. Bennett said in statement that Woodfin would not be considered for the permanent position.
In Thursday's statement, the university said that search firm Eastman & Beaudine, Inc., "is continuing to assist by identifying the best candidates from across the country, as well as vetting self-submitted and recommended applicants."
The release did not specify the number of potential candidates contacted, but said the search "has attracted a broad and strong applicant pool, as the position is proving to be a desirable opportunity." The university's recent championships on the playing fields, the successes of student-athletes and coaches and established university leadership, are all proving to be positive factors in the current search."
Thursday's statement also said that Bennett was "forming an interview committee to assist with the vetting of candidates."
The committee's size was not specified, but the statement said "these individuals will represent various USM constituencies, all of whom are familiar with the university and knowledgeable of the qualities a director of athletics must possess for Southern Miss athletics to be as successful as possible."