"It's an exciting day for us here at Auburn," Jacobs said. "The last five or six weeks I have been evaluating closely our structure and the best way I see that we can move our athletic department forward. The overlying goal is to provide the best support we can for our student athletes. Today I have made some changes in our leadership team to help us get to where we need to be. It's an exciting time."
The moves have current Sports Information Director and Associate Athletic Director Meredith Jenkins moving shortly become an administrator over some of the women's Olympic sports and in charge of media relations while compiling a play to replace her as SID in the near future. Virgil Starks, who is currently the Student Services Director, will become a Senior Associate Athletic Director. Jacobs said that Starks was an obvious choice to move up the ladder because of his work in academics.
"What Virgil has done in his years here at Auburn speaks for itself," Jacobs said. "He is a tremendous ambassador for Auburn. The results that he is producing for our student-athletes in the classroom speak for themselves."
Also Mark Richard, who is currently the Director of Compliance, will move up to a Senior Associate Athletic Director position as is Tim Jackson. Jackson is currently an Associate Athletic Director and head of Auburn's ticket office and will present a plan for the future of the ticket office to Jacobs in the coming weeks. Also David Mines, who has been a Director of Athletic Event Operation and Compliance under Richard, will become an Assistant Athletic Director. Also on that leadership team will be Chief Financial Officer and Associate Athletic Director Terry Windle.
Along with those moves comes the termination of three positions. No longer in Auburn's athletic department will be Eugene Harris, Stacey Danley and Marvin Julich. The positions they held will be absorbed into the new roles named on Thursday by Jacobs and won't be filled. "We've had to streamline what we're doing to provide the best opportunity for our student athletes and the best communication possible in the most efficient way," Jacobs said. "I've eliminated the Associate AD for men's sports, the Assistant AD for special projects and I have eliminated one of our marketing positions.
"This was not a termination it was the elimination of a position," Jacobs added. "Their jobs are eliminated effective immediately. They will go through personnel and personnel has a procedure for layoffs, but as far as in the athletics department they won't be here. It doesn't have anything to do with personalities or with people. It's a matter of how can we do our business better and how can we provide the best service and support for our student-athletes. This is the best way to do it.
"It's going to be a more efficient department," he added. "There's no doubt it's some major changes. The job responsibilities are now going to be absorbed by other administrators. The whole deal here is when I told you I wanted to have a pre-eminent athletic department one piece of that is with your administration. You want people that are equipped to become athletic directors at other places. A major part of what I've done today is that they have to be responsible for sports or teams. With these changes today it is giving Meredith, David Mines and Mark Richard the opportunity to oversee a team so that they'll have a foundation to have a potential job as AD down the line somewhere along with their other responsibilities that they do."
In past years the ultimate decisions made on sports teams have been left solely up to the athletic director. Jacobs said that, while that has worked, he likes a more personal and one-on-one approach to administration. Because of that each sport will have one person in charge of them on a day-to-day basis to help alleviate concerns and solve problems if needed.
"We had already taken administrators and put them in charge of a sport so that if a coach or student-athlete has an administrative concern or problem or opportunity they would go to that administrator," Jacobs said. "Now this administrator will be the one that oversees all aspects of that program. It's more efficient. Now that head coach or assistant coach has one person to go to and that's it about everything involved in their sport."
Jacobs said that for now things are going to settle back down in the department while everyone gets acclimated to their new roles. One addition will be in the compliance area as another administrator will be brought on to handle the very important and relevant problems in the compliance areas.
"We are going to bring on another person in compliance," Jacobs said. "That's a change. We're going to have three people involved in compliance. I just know during this window of probation that we're in, we need more feet on the ground. We're going to bring in another person in the next month or so and it will be a person that has been involved in compliance. I don't know who it is, but it's going to be somebody that is experienced in compliance at some level. It won't be an entry level position."
The changes bring about a new beginning for Auburn athletics as Jacobs attempts to put the focus back on the players and coaches and less on the people involved in the background. As a former player he said that's the way things should be and he's going to strive for that even more in the future.
"It's the most important thing we do and that's the reason we're here," Jacobs said of focusing on the student-athlete. "That's our product. We're all guilty of losing focus along the way of what our product is and the positive impact we can have on all these student athletes because of all the stuff we have to get involved in. Maybe it's because of me being a former student-athlete. I always felt as a football player, I always felt connected. My head football coach was the AD, but we ran a very efficient department and knew everyone. I think the most important thing is those student-athletes and we better be doing everything we can to give them the best opportunity to compete in the classroom and on the playing field."