USM President Rodney Bennett says he will not renew Major General Jeff Hammond's one-year contract as the university's athletic director.
"I personally like General Hammond and respect him as a USM alum. However, I have decided not to renew his contract."
When Hammond's contract expires on June 30, current deputy director of athletics Jeremy McClain will step in as interim AD.
Bennett hopes to fill the position by August 31.
"While I have not yet pre-determined who our next athletics director will be, because of my contacts in athletics, I know of several highly qualified individuals from around the country who I hope and suspect will apply."
Bob Beaudine, President and CEO of Eastman and Beaudine, heads up the search process.
Former University of Georgia head football coach Vince Dooley will assist in the search.
Bennett explains why he's going in a different direction.
"It is important to me to hire my own executive staff in certain high profile areas and assemble my own leadership team."
Despite wanting to hire his own personnel, Bennett says he has extended an undisclosed opportunity for Hammond to continue serving USM in other capacities, an offer Bennett says he hopes Hammond accepts.
As for the interim AD, McClain's plan of attack does not change much while he carries out Hammond's duties.
"I'm honored that the administration has faith in me to kind of bridge the gap, and so it doesn't change a lot from day to day stand point with what we're doing. It's just a matter of making sure we kind of keep things moving forward because we understand it's a transition."
Bennett says McClain is not a candidate for the position on a permanent basis.