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USA Athletic Director Joe Gottfriend Announces Retirement
MOBILE, Ala. – For the University of South Alabama, the end of an era of unprecedented success in athletics will be coming to a close.
USA Director of Athletics Joe Gottfried announced Tuesday at a 3 p.m. press conference in the Mitchell Center that he will retire effective Aug. 1.
A nationwide search for his successor will be conducted by the University under the direction of President Gordon Moulton.
“It has been a terrific experience, I have been very fortunate to have been surrounded by an outstanding group of coaches, student-athletes, support and administrative staff,” said Gottfried. “To be able to have the success and accomplish the many things we have, you need to have the support of the President and the Board of Trustees. I have felt that has been a big plus, it made my job much easier.
“Obviously I am very proud about what has been accomplished and to have been a member of the South Alabama family for 28 years. It’s been important to me and my family. We will always be Jaguars and will continue to follow the progress of not only the athletic program but the University as well.”
President Moulton commended Gottfried on his years of service to the University.
“Anyone who cares about University of South Alabama athletics owes a debt of gratitude to Joe Gottfried, who has led the growth and expansion of the Jaguar athletic program for more than a quarter century,” Moulton said. “He has guided Jaguar Athletics to new heights of accomplishment and has set the stage for greater achievement in the future.
“The entire University of South Alabama family appreciates his contribution, and we trust that he will remain a familiar face at Jaguar athletic events.”
Under Gottfried’s direction, Jag Athletics have experienced success in competition as well as the classroom. He has had a profound impact not only on the school’s architecture with the development and improvement of numerous athletic facilities, but also on the community with the school’s recent addition of the football program. Gottfried was one of the key people involved in the process to make the sport the school’s 17th program, a decision that was approved by the Board of Trustees on Dec. 6, 2007, after initially leading discussions attempting to bring football to campus in 2001. The Jaguars will begin competition in September and will be eligible to compete for the Sun Belt Conference championship and participate in a bowl game in 2013.
During his tenure, the school has claimed the Vic Bubas Cup — presented to the program that demonstrates excellence in the league’s now 19 sports — 10 times in a 13-year span. In fact, no school in league history has earned the award more than USA.
Overall, Jaguar and Lady Jag teams have won 104 league titles. USA teams have appeared in 54 NCAA Championship events in that time, while individuals have qualified for NCAA postseason action on 123 occasions. That includes a pair of track and field athletes who have won NCAA titles — during the 1999-00 campaign David Kimani won the cross country championship in the fall before claiming the 3,000- and 5,000-meter races at the outdoor meet, while Vincent Rono was the 2006 outdoor national champion in the 1,500 meters.
On the national level, 75 USA student-athletes have earned All-America recognition while 62 of the school’s coaches have been selected the Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year in their sports.
And, in baseball, 95 players have signed with teams in the professional ranks including 17 who have gone on to advance to the Major League level.
With the addition of football, the athletic department is supporting an all-time high of more than 300 student-athletes. In the most recent Academic Progress Rate report released by the NCAA last month, 13 of South Alabama’s 16 programs in competition scored above the 925 standard set by the NCAA. Under Gottfried, 83 percent of South Alabama’s student-athletes who have completed their eligibility have graduated. Individually, 37 USA student-athletes were named to the Sun Belt Conference Commissioner’s List for maintaining a 3.5 grade-point average or better with another 32 making the Sun Belt Academic Honor Roll with a GPA of 3.0 or higher in 2007-08.
Gottfried’s impact can be seen across campus, from the $30 million Mitchell Center — home to USA’s men’s and women’s basketball program as well as offices for athletic department personnel — to Stanky Field, which underwent a $3.5 million renovation prior to the 2005 campaign in addition to seeing the construction of a 4,000-square foot clubhouse in 1996, to the intramural fields on the West side of campus, where a $1 million field house is under construction with plans to be open in the summer of 2009. At the beginning of the year, the softball and soccer programs moved into a new locker room and office complex that was constructed near the softball field, which was built prior to the program’s first-ever game in 2007, while the school has made improvements to Jaguar Gymnasium, the Striplin Center, “The Cage” — the school’s soccer facility — the USA Track Complex and the Bruce David Lubel Memorial Tennis Courts.
And, the school has plans for a new academic center and upgrades to the track and field venue with new seating, lights and locker rooms.
Gottfried helped bring the Sun Belt men’s basketball tournament to Mobile for the first time in 1991 — it would go on to bring in the highest attendance at the event in 20 years — as USA has now hosted it on three occasions. That includes playing host to the championships the first time it was a combined men’s and women’s tournament in 1999. Overall, Gottfried has helped bring 50 league championship events to Mobile during his tenure.
In addition to starting the Jaguar Challenge — a fund-raising golf event held each May that has provided the athletic department with more than $100,000 in proceeds each spring — five years ago, Gottfried played a pivotal role in USA signing partnerships with the collegiate marketing firm IMG as well as NIKE in the last year that will return millions of dollars to the University. He was also a key person in revolutionizing the way tickets are sold to South Alabama athletic events. Behind his guidance, he led the development of USA’s unique Athletic Ticket Sales Office, one of only a few college departments in the nation to employ such a sales team to solicit ticket sales and donations for USA athletic events.
“Joe Gottfried has spent nearly three decades furthering the mission and goals of the University of South Alabama and the Sun Belt Conference,” stated Wright Waters, Commissioner of the league. “During his tenure, he has been a firsthand witness to the expansion of the Sun Belt as it has become part of the Bowl Championship Series. Joe has been part of this growth every step of the way, including playing an integral role in USA’s addition of football as the institution’s 17th athletic program. He has provided invaluable leadership to South Alabama and the Sun Belt Conference, and the entire league thanks him for his service.”
Gottfried came to South Alabama as an Assistant Athletic Director after successful basketball coaching stints at Ashland and Southern Illinois. He served in the position from 1981-84 before being promoted to Director of Athletics.
In six seasons as a coach at Bloomville High School, Gottfried led the school to a 91-42 (68.4%) mark while earning AP/UPI Ohio Basketball Coach-of-the-Year accolades. He also was the head coach at Lima Central Catholic High School, helping the team to a 20-4 (83.3%) finish and a top-five ranking in the state’s final poll. Gottfried coached a pair of Ohio High School Basketball Players of the Year.
After accepting an assistant position at Ashland (Ohio) University, he was elevated to head coach in 1973. He would guide the Eagles to the NCAA Tournament and the top 10 of the final AP rankings in each of his final three seasons, posting a 60-19 (75.9%) mark during that stretch. Prior to coming to USA, he was head coach at Southern Illinois for three seasons.
Gottfried is a member of the USA Athletic Hall of Fame, the Ashland College Hall of Fame and the Crestline (Ohio) High School Hall of Fame.
A 1963 graduate of Ashland, Gottfried would go on to earn his master’s degree from Morehead State in 1969. He and his wife Mary have two adult children — Christy and Mark, the former head men’s basketball coach at Alabama from 1998-09 — and nine grandchildren. His brother Mike is one of ESPN’s top college football analysts.
For more information about South Alabama athletics, check back with www.usajaguars.com. Season tickets for all Jaguar athletic events can be purchased by calling (251) 461-1USA (1872).
South Alabama Athletics