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Year in Review: Southern Miss Athletics

Dec. 31, 2017 HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- A lot can happen over the course of one year. Southern Miss saw many changes in 2017, and the future gets even brighter for 2018. Whether it is something you missed or something you want to fondly remember, we have you covered.

Jon Gilbert named seventh Director of Athletics: The university announced on Jan. 24 that it had selected Jon Gilbert to lead the Golden Eagles' athletic department. Gilbert, a longtime administrator at Tennessee and Alabama, detailed his mission to be one that would focus on student-athlete welfare.

Joye Lee-McNelis overcomes lung cancer and collects milestone win: The fearless leader of the Lady Eagle basketball team rebounded from a brief absence in the spring to help guide the team to the C-USA Championship game and a home WNIT matchup. On Nov. 28, Southern Miss picked up a 71-59 win at Northwestern State, giving her 450 wins as a head coach. She joined 40 other active women's Division I coaches to reach that milestone, as well as becoming the 71st when including the men's side.

Southern Miss announces 2018-19 transition to adidas: The worldwide apparel dealer linked up with Southern Miss to announce a new partnership that would begin in the summer of 2018 and run through the 2024-25 athletic season, presenting a unifying brand across each of the 16 varsity sports.

Baseball wins school-record 50 games, hosts NCAA regional: Magic at The Pete continued to be an eighth wonder of the world as Southern Miss exploded for the C-USA regular-season title and ranked as high as No. 10 nationally during the season. #Baseburg hosted June baseball for the second-time ever, and first since 2003, when Mississippi State, South Alabama and UIC came to town. Matt Wallner claimed multiple National Freshman of the Year honors, while he, Nick Sandlin and Dylan Burdeaux also appeared on the All-American lists.

Volleyball collects fourth consecutive 20-win season: It is also the second consecutive year that the senior class is the most successful one in school history. Sarah Bell places on the All-Conference First Team for the second time of her career, while Kylie Grandy makes the Second Team and Chandler Marshall on the All-Freshman squad. Southern Miss reached the C-USA semifinals for the third-straight season.

Cross Country claims highest-conference finish in program history: The Golden Eagles went to Clinton as hosts of the C-USA Championships and ran like the wind for a second-place finish, their best-ever. Kate Mattox also claimed Freshman of the Meet honors, and the team picked up a 12th-place spot out of 31 schools in the NCAA South Regional Meet.

Football wins eight games, ties for C-USA lead with most All-Conference selections: Head coach Jay Hopson tied a program record with 15 wins in his first two seasons as the head coach, and Southern Miss continued its upward climb with an 8-4, 6-2 finish in the regular season. The team boasted 10 All-Conference honorees on the First, Second and Freshman teams, tying with FAU for the league lead. The team had two separate three-game win streaks, including a late, 11-point comeback win at LA Tech and a 66-point effort against Charlotte, its highest output against an FBS team since 2008.

Ito Smith concludes his legendary Southern Miss career: Golden Eagle fans were treated to four years of awe-inspiring plays from Ito Smith, who concluded his Black and Gold tenure as the school's all-time, all-purpose yard leader. This year, he had seven, 100-yard rushing games (including 150 each over the regular season-ending three-game win streak). Smith became the 10th player in FBS history to post 4,000 rushing and 1,000 receiving yards in his career. On Jan. 27, he will serve as the first Golden Eagle since 2012 to compete in the Reese's Senior Bowl, which takes place in his hometown of Mobile, Ala.

Reed Green Coliseum gets videoboards: Just in time for the 2018 calendar year, Southern Miss completed the installation of two Daktronics video boards across from each baseline in Reed Green Coliseum. Each platform stands 10 feet, eight inches tall and 19 feet wide. The high-definition screens will debut at the Jan. 4 men's basketball game against UTEP.

Beach Volleyball coming to Hattiesburg: Southern Miss made a step toward the future with the announcement of its 17th varsity sport (and 10th female), beach volleyball, for the spring 2019 campaign. As of this year, 65 NCAA institutions sponsor the sport.

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