TROY – Troy University’s national search to find its next athletics director ended a few hundred steps from Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins’ office.
Brent Jones, who has served as the Trojans’ deputy director of athletics for external operations since 2017, was promoted to the AD job on Wednesday.
A large crowd of Trojan supporters – along with Jones’ longtime friends and mentors Louisiana Tech AD Tommy McClelland and Southern Mississippi AD Jeremy McClain, his predecessor at Troy who resigned in early April – were on hand for the announcement in the Stadium Club at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Hawkins detailed a search process that produced a very deep and talented pool of candidates. A selection committee headed by Dr. Douglas Patterson interviewed six finalists.
“We had sitting ADs at all levels, including Division I, that wanted to be part of this experience at Troy,” Hawkins said. “We had senior associate ADs from five major conferences. We had executives from different fields of professional athletics.
“We interviewed six. At the end of that process, we concluded that all six will at some point in their career be a Division I AD.”
Jones earned the job. He came to Troy in 2017 from Southern Miss. Since then, Jones has overseen Troy marketing, communication, advertising, ticket sales, broadcasting, promotions, fan engagement, fan experience, branding, licensing and trademarks.
Each of those areas has enjoyed sharp increases in recent years. Troy has set attendance records for football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, softball and baseball since Jones’ arrival. It has also enjoyed a 34 percent increase in funds and a 111 percent increase in retailers selling Troy merchandise under Jones’ watch. The Trojan athletics department also set records for revenue in corporate sponsorships, ticket sales and development – including a 33 percent increase in ticket revenue and a 39 percent increase in donations.
He not only earned the job through his performance – he won it with his presentation. The man who has been selling Troy athletics to fans, alumni, students, sponsors and retailers for nearly 2½ years had to sell himself to that search committee.
“This is a dream job of mine. This is something I wanted to have happen,” Jones said, calling his interview “humbling.” “I wasn’t sure if I was going to have an opportunity or not. But when the time came, I was one of the six to interview.”
He made his biggest sales pitch to the committee.
“He did an exceptional job. The presentation was very, very professional,” Hawkins said. “It laid out facts and figures, it laid out his plan for the first 100 days. There was some very convincing and compelling evidence of his forethought.
“There was no question but that he knew exactly what he wanted to do – measured against real needs and real objectives that needed to be crafted for this department.”
Hawkins said the committee kept coming back to being the right “fit” for the job.
“It almost always does. I don’t care of its faculty or leadership or athletics, it always is about fit,” the Chancellor said. “When we measured everything, there were strengths and weaknesses – all of us have those – everything in the aggregate pointed to a very strong candidate and a great fit.
“Brent understands the culture. He’s committed to it. He’s here. All else being equal, we’ve always appointed from within. Brent, I think, is the right man at the right time.”
Jones said his presentation noted the strides Troy has made on the revenue side, but it also included his vision for the program as a whole.
“My vision is this: We’re going to compete and do it with honor, do it with integrity, and we’re going to win conference championships,” Jones said, referencing the all-sports trophy presented by the Sun Belt Conference. “That’s the goal. The goal is to win the Bubas Cup. We have to continue to grow our fan base to do that, and find the necessary resources and I feel I’m the correct person to do that.”
Jones has been one of the most visible administrators in the department. He was a fixture at the Trojan Tour events around the state and the Florida Panhandle.
“Our fans our galvanized,” the new AD said. “We’ve had record levels in attendance, corporate sponsorships, fund-raising and ticket sales. The momentum we have is real and we must continue that momentum. It’s been so great to be able to connect with our fans, our alums and with the Wiregrass community completely to try to spread that message.
“We’re going to continue to put that plan in place of getting out, meeting people, talking about the vision we have. We’re less than 80 days away from football and soccer and volleyball. We’re going to hit the ground hard, but I’ll tell you this: Our staff is awesome. They are outstanding, the coaching staff as well as administrators. It’s going to be a smooth, really easy transition.”
Jones’ energy and work ethic in the athletic department is already renowned.
“His work ethic is off the chart, but he’s high-energy in every area that he touches and you can see that in his work,” said Troy senior associate AD and senior woman administrator Sandy Atkins, who has been the interim AD throughout this search. “If it’s marketing, licensing, development, ticket sales, fund-raising, he is in it 100 percent. You see the results of that.
“From that standpoint, he’s going to knock it out of the park. I don’t think there’d be anybody better to lead this department than him.”
It didn’t sound like Jones was going to ease into his new position. Asked what’s next after delivering on those revenue-side accomplishments, he didn’t take long with an answer.
“Breaking all those accomplishments,” Jones said. “I’ll be hitting the ground running, calling donors, calling season ticket holders. …
“We need every single person pulling in the same direction. We talk about OneTroy all the time. That’s 16 sports with one mission – but it’s also Trojan Nation continuing to come together to make a difference. We’ll be reaching out asking everyone to continue your support to make this program great.”