USM hires Jeff Hammond as athletic director

HATTIESBURG — Southern Mississippi has named Jeff Hammond its athletic director, elevating the former Army major general from an interim position he’s held since January.

The 56-year-old Hammond has been with the athletic department since 2010, and said during a Wednesday press conference that he plans to “lead from the front, by example, with a strong code of ethics.” Hammond was the Southern Miss quarterback from 1976 to 1978.

Hammond takes over following arguably the most successful athletics season in program history. The football team won 12 games, while the basketball program went to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1991.

But there’s also plenty of uncertainty. The program is fighting budget issues and also trying to find its way through the ongoing conference re-alignment that’s dominated college athletics.