Georgia Southern announced on Thursday that Mississippi State Deputy Athletic Director and Chief Financial Officer Jared Benko will become the school’s new Director of Athletics. The news comes just over two months after Tom Kleinlein announced that he was leaving that role after five years with the school.
An outside research firm and a 22-person search committee formed by Georgia Southern reviewed resumes from potential cadidates. A series of interviews were conducted with finalists over the last two weeks, with Benko rising to the top of the list.
Benko will officially assume his duties April 1.
“This was a highly sought-after position attracting over 100 candidates from across the nation,” said Georgia Southern University President Kyle Marrero in a press release issued by Georgia Southern Athletic Media Relations. “The expressed enthusiasm for and reputation of Georgia Southern validated the success we have had, and the potential in our future. Jared stood out in everyone’s mind. The committee and I are confident he is the right person to capitalize on our momentum and lead Eagle Nation to even greater heights.”
Originally from Watkinsville, Ga., Benko graduated from the University of Georgia in 2005. He began working for UGA’s athletic department as a student before making his way westward through the Southeastern Conference, serving as the assistant athletic director for finance at Auburn and director of business operations at the University of Arkansas before making his way to Mississippi State.
Benko will be officially introduced to media and make his first comments to Georgia Southern and its fans in a press conference to be held Monday afternoon.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT BENKO (as provided by Georgia Southern AMR)
“Georgia Southern is gaining an outstanding leader with an incredible reputation in Jared Benko. Jared has a wealth of diverse experiences in intercollegiate athletics that have more than prepared him for this opportunity. He has been an invaluable asset to Mississippi State and I appreciate his service. In working alongside Jared, it is clear that he shares the same commitment and drive to provide the very best for student-athletes, coaches, administration and fans he represents. Congratulations to Jared and his family, who are tremendous additions to Georgia Southern University and the Statesboro community.” - Mississippi State Director of Athletics John Cohen
“I think Jared does an outstanding job and that he is one of America’s up-and-coming administrators in college athletics. Without his efforts, as well as others, I would not have this great opportunity at Mississippi State. I wish him great success at Georgia Southern and I look forward to watching that program go to new heights under his leadership.” - Mississippi State Head Football Coach Mike Leach
“Jared Benko did a great job here at Mississippi State, and he’ll do a great job at Georgia Southern. He has great people skills, is really well-liked and is super organized. He’s worked in several quality schools, which gives him a breadth of knowledge and a great feel for athletics. These traits will serve him well as a director of athletics. But most of all, Jared’s a good man and a good person, and I know he will do great things for Georgia Southern.” - Mississippi State Head Men’s Basketball Coach Ben Howland
“Congratulations to Georgia Southern University hiring Jared Benko as your new athletic director. Jared has been a tremendous supporter of our women’s basketball program as well as our entire athletic department. He will not only lead your athletic department to new heights but he and his family will enhance the university community and the city of Statesboro in which they live. He is a tireless worker who will support every athletic program and give everyone the best opportunity to be successful. We have lost a tremendous family here in Starkville, Mississippi.” - Mississippi State Head Women’s Basketball Coach Vic Schaefer
“Jared Benko did an outstanding job at Mississippi State, and I know he’ll do the same as Director of Athletics at Georgia Southern. His attention to detail, preparation and ability to anticipate will serve GSU well. Plus, he’s a person of character and a good family man who will put the interests of student-athletes first. I congratulate Jared, Sarah, Hudson and Cooper and wish them the very best.” - Eastern Michigan Vice President & Director of Athletics Scott Wetherbee
“Jared has so many positive leadership qualities that will benefit Georgia Southern athletics, among them his work ethic, intellect and ability to problem solve. He is a sharp young administrator with a bright future.” - Florida Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin
“I have known Jared since he was in junior high school and he worked in my office as an undergraduate and graduate student. He has always had the dream of athletics administration and has charted a very deliberate path to attain that goal. He’s engaging, honest and has impeccable integrity with a commitment to doing things the right way.” - Georgia Senior Associate Athletic Director Claude Felton
“Jared Benko is an outstanding professional who cares about what makes intercollegiate athletics special: the student-athlete. What makes him different is also his knowledge base, network, ability to develop relationships and his experiences working for and at some of the best programs in the country. Congratulations and great hire!” - Connecticut Director of Athletics David Benedict
“Dr. Marrero and the search committee in selecting Jared have hired an AD that has the character, integrity and relentless pursuit of excellence that Georgia Southern has always exemplified. Jared will promote a culture that will provide student-athletes with the best opportunity to graduate, win championships and develop as leaders. Those in the SEC who have had a chance to work with Jared hold him in the highest regard. Congratulations to Jared and the Georgia Southern Eagles.” - Florida Executive Associate Athletics Director Jay Jacobs