New Era: Jeremy McClain announced as Troy’s ninth Athletic Director Friday morning
Published 3:00 am Saturday, August 15, 2015
Jeremy McClain didn’t need anyone to sell him on the merits of Troy University athletics.
“I’ve known Troy for many years. From the time in the GSC, to winning national championships there, to moving to FCS level and then to the FBS level, having success at all of those levels,” McClain said. ”So I didn’t have to be sold on anything. I knew what Troy was and what it was about.”
And that history of success in part drew McClain to his new role as Director of Athletics at Troy University.
McClain was introduced to the Troy community during a press conference on Friday. He replaces John Hartwell who left in June to become the AD at Utah State University.
McClain, a graduate of Delta State University in Mississippi, comes to Troy from the University of Southern Mississippi, where he was associate athletic director. Prior to that he was athletic director at Delta State for more than five years.
“We selected Jeremy McClain from a deep pool of applicants that included senior administrators from every major athletic conference in the nation,” said Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins Jr. “He has the right combination of experience, passion and leadership skills that we were seeking in our new AD. I am certain Jeremy will build on an already solid foundation and take Troy’s program to an unprecedented level of success.”
Once the search committee landed on McClain to be the university’s ninth AD, there was no selling needed to get him to Troy.
“Those feelings were only solidified throughout this process,” McClain told the packed auditorium at Tine Davis Fieldhouse on Friday. “There were a lot of reasons, as we talked through this, that I was and we were interested in Troy. I think the first thing was the community.”
The small town atmosphere was a major selling point for McClain and his family.
“We actually, a few weeks back, snuck over one weekend into town when no one was looking. We just felt like, as a family, this was important to us and we wanted to make sure that we knew what it was and that we had checked all the boxes and felt comfortable – and we did,” McClain said. “We got here and just interacted with people around town – at restaurants, hotels, around town, whatever the case may be. It only solidified our thoughts about Troy being a very special place.”
The facilities at Troy University were a point of interest for McClain as well. While at the University of Southern Mississippi, McClain was the primary fundraiser for the Eagles, in charge of securing funding and supervising facility projects.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I drove onto campus when we made the trip over, but we were blown away … The facilities here are as good as anywhere,” McClain said. “Not as good as anywhere in the Sun Belt, but as good as anywhere. We have a great opportunity with those facilities to really build upon that from a recruiting perspective, exciting our fan base.”
One of the major projects on McClain’s agenda will be the realization of the north end zone project at Veterans Memorial Stadium. The estimated $17 Million project, scheduled to break ground in 2016, will be a brand new football building that will feature new offices and facilities for the football program.
“This north end zone project is going to be a game changer. I could not be more excited to jump in the middle of that and being a part of the process,” McClain said. “It is going to be a lot of fun. It’s going to excite our fan base; it’s going to be a huge boost in recruiting. I’ll tell you something from experience – it’s going to change the atmosphere in the stadium.”
McClain wants to make sure that the well being of student athletes is at the center of attention while at the University.
Prior to his tenure at USM, McClain spent more than five years as Director of Athletics at Delta State University where he developed a plan to increase services being offered to more than 350 student athletes. He expects to bring that same focus to Troy.
“First and foremost we are going to be focused on our student-athletes. We’re blessed to do what we do for a living. It’s cool to come to work at the football stadium or the basketball arena, that’s pretty special. But, we’re really blessed to have the opportunity to impact lives,” McClain said. “When student-athletes leave here we want them to leave with three things – a diploma, a championship ring on their finger and the skill set and confidence to tackle the world that is waiting on them.”
Moreover, he is setting the bar high for those student athletes.
“We are going to be focused on competition on the championship level, an elite championship level. I want us to be the premier program in the Sun Belt Conference across the board. I’m not saying I want us to win a championship; I want us to be the premier program,” McClain said. “The Bubas Cup is given to the top program in the conference at the end of each year based on a point system on how you finish in the standings and that is where I want our focus to be. It’s not about one sport, it is about us as a department being the best.”
While at USM McClain worked under AD Bill McGillis and left a lasting impression.
“Jeremy McClain is one of the most outstanding athletic administrators in the country,” McGillis said. “First and foremost, I’ve never met a finer man. Jeremy will bring to Troy great integrity, rare leadership qualities, tremendous experience, talent and wisdom.”
USM head football coach Todd Monken shared McGillis’s sentiments.
“Troy couldn’t have made a better hire. It was just a matter of time before Jeremy moved on and got a chance to become a Division 1 athletics director,” Monken said. “He is one of those rare guys who has the ability to communicate and get things done.”
Fans of Troy are excited to see what McClain will bring to the university in the years to come.
“I’m excited about the energy McClain brought to the press conference today,” said Troy fan Chad Simmons. “I’m happy he mentioned the enzone project.
“He looks and sounds like a great fit,” said Troy fan Brian Ross. “John Hartwell left some big shoes to fill, but it looks like Jeremy is extremely capable. I’m excited to see what he does here.”