Last week, Auburn’s athletic director Jay Jacobs announced he will be stepping down by June 2018.
Overseeing a program mired in scandal and berated by allegations, Jacobs decided leaving would be the best way to help Auburn University, and we emphatically agree with him.
Jacobs has not been a “bad” athletic director by any means, but it was past time for a change at the top of Auburn’s athletics department.
Despite his successes — including leading Auburn to win 11 national championships and 24 SEC championships across several sports — his actions over the past year left a void in leadership that precludes him from being the proper person to lead a program as important as Auburn Athletics.
Sport has been a key component to schooling for millennia, going as far back as the ancient Greeks who recognized its utility. It continues to promote human excellence.
Sport not only promotes physical discipline, it also creates stronger, more disciplined minds.
Additionally, our athletics program contribute to community cohesion, with our teams carrying the hearts of students and fans who may not typically associate with one another.
Perhaps even more important to the University is the money the department contributes to academic programs.
Given the important functions of athletics, we challenge Auburn to thoughtfully choose its next athletic director.
We need someone who will continue Jacobs’ successes, but more importantly, we need someone who will provide strong, ethical leadership and a coherent vision of what Auburn athletics should aspire to be.
Our next athletic director must be committed to transparency. Skirting around issues won’t solve them. Auburn Athletics relationship with the media — which ranges from dismissive to hostile — needs to be repaired.
Moreover, we need an athletic director who isn’t so entrenched in the good ol’ boy system that it’ll detract from his leadership. Friends cannot come before the well-being of student-athletes and the University.
Often times, the University places an enormous amount of weight in whether a candidate is already part of the Auburn Family, but sometimes outsiders can be good for institutions, they can identify and fix issues that have festered for too long.
This is not to say we’d prefer a non-alum, but Auburn’s choice must care about student-athletes in a manner that goes beyond seeing them as tools for Auburn’s financial success or image; their humanity is more valuable than revenue.
If our next athletic director reflects these qualities, we are confident Auburn Athletics will fulfill its purpose: to promote excellence in Auburn students, both in spirit and body.