When Bill McGillis was named the sixth full-time Director of Athletics at The University of Southern Mississippi in the summer of the 2013, he literally hit the ground running with a goal of making Southern Miss athletics the best that it can be, both on and off the athletic venues.
McGillis came to Southern Miss with a unique vision and a belief that Golden Eagle athletics could be one of the premier programs in not only Conference USA, but in the country as well. His goal for the future of Southern Miss athletics is not only focused on immediate opportunities to improve all 16 programs, but also a long-range vision of what the program can become over the next decade.
To accomplish these goals, McGillis realizes that the athletic department must create the best possible environment for the student-athletes and the Golden Eagle fans and must continue to cultivate new and creative ways to find the resources necessary to allow the program to continue to compete at the highest intercollegiate level.
His impact since his hire on July 18, 2013, is very apparent.
Included in that first year on the job was his first three significant coaching hires, including the naming of Amanda Berkley as women's volleyball coach, Zubin Engineer as men's tennis coach and Doc Sadler as the men's basketball coach.
In Berkley, he hired an individual who was later named to the Thirty Under 30 list by the American Volleyball Coaches Association, recognizing outstanding individuals in the sport of volleyball under the age of 30 after capturing 17 victories in her first season. That bettered the win total by nine games from the previous season.
Engineer captured 12 victories and a plus-.500 record in a much improved schedule for the Golden Eagles this past spring, while Sadler comes to Southern Miss with a solid pedigree that includes head coaching stops at UTEP and Nebraska in his career.
In the respective playing venues, the Golden Eagle men's basketball team won the Conference USA men's basketball crown, its first title since the 2000-01 campaign. The men's team reached the postseason for the third consecutive season with it also earning its second-straight NIT quarterfinal appearance, while the women's squad captured 27 wins and made it to the postseason for the first time since the 2007-08 campaign.
Lady Eagle coach Joye Lee-McNelis was named the C-USA Coach of the Year, while player Jamierra Faulkner not only won the Gillom Trophy for top collegiate women's basketball player in the state of Mississippi, but was drafted by the Chicago Sky of the WNBA.
In total, the two programs captured 56 victories marking one of just nine Division I schools to have a combined total of victories between the men's and women's basketball programs.
McGillis also brought in an outside ticket company, IMG-Learfield, the first time that that has happened to assist in the sale of season and single-game tickets.
He also issued a feasibility study on Reed Green Coliseum. Populous, a company that describes itself as "a global collective of architects, designers, technical experts and industry veterans," to present the findings by the end of July. The firm is also preparing a feasibility study on the renovation or possible relocation of the student-athletes' academic center.
McGillis comes to Southern Miss from the University of South Florida, where he served as Executive Associate Athletic Director. In that role, he is the sport administrator for the football, baseball and softball programs and was responsible for leading the department's revenue-generating units, including marketing, ticket sales, licensing, merchandising and communications.
Throughout his tenure at USF, which began in 2007, the university enjoyed extraordinary increases in tickets sales and other revenue streams. In 2007, football ticket sales nearly doubled from approximately 30,000 per game in 2006 to more than 53,000 per contest. Beginning in 2009, USF began a $69 million facelift of its Athletics District, constructing six new venues, including new baseball and softball stadiums, soccer stadium and track stadium. Construction was completed over a 24-month period, and, based on the number of venues built at one time, is believed to be the single largest athletics project undertaken at a Division I institution in decades.
McGillis brought to Southern Miss more than 25 years of administrative experience in intercollegiate athletics. Prior to his tenure at South Florida, he served as Director of Athletics at the University of Evansville from 2002 to 2007. At Evansville, McGillis initiated improvements to the university's basketball, administrative and weight room facilities, and increased scholarship support and funding. The Purple Aces baseball program achieved unprecedented success, winning the Missouri Valley Conference Championship for the first time. McGillis also spent nearly four years as the Senior Associate Athletic Director at the University of New Mexico, and 13 years at the University of Houston in a similar role.
McGillis earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in sports administration from St. Thomas University (Fla.) in 1984 and graduated from the Sports Management Institute Program in 1996. He and his wife Margie, both natives of Seattle, have five children--sons Jordan, Taylor and Will, and daughters Marissa and Gabrielle.
What They are Saying About Bill McGillis Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky
"Bill is a wonderful athletic administrator with tremendous experience. He is also a terrific person with a perfect skill set to be successful at Southern Miss. We are excited to welcome him into the conference."
Ole Miss Director of Athletics Ross Bjork
"Congratulations to Dr. Bennett and The University of Southern Mississippi on a great hire with Bill McGillis. I have had the pleasure of developing a strong friendship and professional relationship with Bill for well over a decade, and I believe he is the perfect fit for USM. He has the experience of leading several athletics programs to new heights, and his strong connections around the country will serve the Golden Eagle program well moving forward. Just like we have, I know the McGillis family will love the people of Mississippi, and we welcome them to the Magnolia State."
University of Miami Director of Athletics Blake James
"Bill is a true leader in our profession. His experience, his passion and his dedication to excellence will take USM to unprecedented success. Southern Miss should be excited about the future with Bill at the helm."
Arkansas Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long
"Bill McGillis is an outstanding individual who has over 20 years of experience at multiple levels of NCAA membership. His enthusiasm, work ethic and principled leadership will build the program, while making a quality student-athlete experience a focal point. Southern Miss has made a tremendous choice in Bill McGillis."