Jeremy McClain’s Message to USM Fans
From the University of Southern Mississippi Athletic Department
HATTTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) -
I hope this message finds you all well! It is hard to believe October is already here and the new academic year is in full swing. We are excited about year two in the Sun Belt Conference as we look to continue building on the momentum created from our inaugural season. As we close out September, several of our teams are deep into their seasons, with many already entering conference play.
Unfortunately, football season has started much slower than many of us had hoped, and I know there is frustration for our fans, our staff, and our student-athletes. The importance of being successful in football is not lost on me or anyone associated with the university, so we will continue to work to get it right. In the meantime, I want to say thank you to those who have continued to show support, even when it isn’t easy. This weekend provides another great opportunity as we celebrate Homecoming on Saturday, October 7, and look to get back in the win column against a really good Old Dominion team. Game time is set for 6 p.m., and I hope to see many of you back on campus!
On a brighter note, we have very quickly seen success in several sports this fall. Those sports include men’s golf, who opened their year with a win in the Argent Financial Classic at Squire Creek Country Club. Our women’s soccer program has also gotten off to a fast start in conference play, and currently sits near the top of the league standings.
Record Fundraising Year
As we have shared in the past, last year was a record-breaking year for the Eagle Club in regard to total members (2,871) and total giving ($2.3 million). On top of those accomplishments, our 2023 fiscal year was also the most successful fundraising year on record for the Southern Miss Athletics Foundation. In total, our donors contributed over $8.7 million to benefit our programs and student-athletes.We are incredibly thankful to our donors for their willingness to invest in our success. This level of support is more critical than ever as we see the cost of ‘doing business’ continue to increase. Our programs have seen significant increases in their travel and food budgets due to rising costs. Therefore, it is imperative that we continue raise the bar when it comes to private giving and revenue generation overall.
Strategic & Facility Plans
In August 2022, we released our To The Top 25 Strategic Plan, establishing 25 goals and objectives to be completed by the end of 2025 calendar year. After only 14 months, I am excited to say that we have already met or surpassed 10 of our 25 goals with serious momentum around several more.One of those goals is to create a facility master plan that will provide a road map for transformative change for the future of Southern Miss Athletics. I have been asked about our timeline to share updated information, or individual renderings, and it is great to hear that there is anticipation surrounding the plan. While we continue to work each week on the plan, the simple truth is that it isn’t ready for public consumption just yet. We are working through continued adjustments to address as many challenges up front as we possibly can. There are also timing considerations as it relates to other campus initiatives and our current university capital campaign, Give Wing. With that being said, we are getting much closer to having our ‘ducks in a row’ so we can make an announcement in the near future.
We are currently working through some leadership transition within our department. Several of our senior staff members have been afforded great career opportunities over the past few months. As you can imagine, this has left us short-staffed in a few areas, so I am incredibly thankful to our staff members who have stepped up to fill in the gaps.We are in the process of filling those needed positions with a deliberate approach, focused on finding the right people. We are very thankful for the service of those who have moved on, and they will be greatly missed. However, every challenge creates a unique opportunity to improve, and we look forward to working through a reorganization process that we feel will lead to better efficiencies and allow us to continue to grow.
M Club Hall of Fame Ceremony
We are extremely excited about this year’s M Club Hall of Fame class. This very deserving group will be inducted at a ceremony on Friday, November 3, at Southern Oaks in Hattiesburg.
The 2023 class’s inductees include:
Mark Blackburn (Men’s Golf, 1998-99)
Danny Hrapmann (Football, 2009-11)
Vandarel Jones (Men’s Basketball, 1999-01)
Jared Martin (Baseball, 1994-97)
Robert “Bob” McCrory (Baseball, 2001-03)
Kendra Reed (Women’s Basketball, 2005-09)
Scott Berry (Honorary Inductee; Baseball, 2001-2023)
As the college athletics landscape continues to change, NIL (Name, Image, and Likeness) opportunities for student-athletes have become an important part of our world. We are working hard to educate our student-athletes and our community on how we can work together to maximize NIL for a brighter future. In the meantime, if you are interested in supporting our student-athletes through NIL, I would encourage you to visit our friends at To The Top Collective.
Thank you again for your continued support. We are going to keep fighting everyday to be the best we can be, even on the hard days.
Southern Miss….TO THE TOP,
Director of Athletics
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