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Southern Miss president issues statement on Jay Hopson after Art Briles interview debacle

Art Briles is not going to be the next Southern Miss offensive coordinator, and Jay Hopson was not happy about it. He issued a statement on Wednesday, which followed USM president Rodney Bennett‘s statement stating, essentially, that he would not allow Briles to be hired, so Hopson’s statement made it known he strongly wanted Briles in his program.

Had Hopson not interviewed Briles and especially had he not issued that statement, it would seem unlikely that The Athletic would’ve published its even-more-damning report on Hopson recruiting a player accused of raping two women at knife point and then not reporting that allegation to Southern Miss.

Within a series of days, it seems the current was shifting under Hopson’s feet and threatening to drag him under the water.

However, on Monday Bennett released a statement that implied he brought Hopson to his office for a spanking, but that he would remain employed as Southern Miss’ head coach.

Coach Hopson assured me of his commitment to overseeing a program that upholds the values of The University of Southern Mississippi. I know Coach Hopson to be a man of high ethics and integrity, and I assured him of the University’s dedication to continuing a winning tradition.”

Our conversation included many topics, including the events of the past week. As a matter of practice, Coach Hopson seeks approval from and works in good faith with athletic administration on prospective student athletes who have special or unique circumstances for admission to the University, which is consistent with University protocol in student-athlete recruitment. Additionally, Coach Hopson notified the University of his desire to meet with Art Briles, which is his right to do so as a head football coach and is in line with normal University processes. After an intentional and thorough review of Mr. Briles, candidacy, I expressed my reservations, and ultimately that review led to the decision that Mr. Briles was not a viable candidate.

I consider the matter closed, and I am looking forward to working with Coach Hopson on our mutual priorities and shared goals for the Southern Miss football program and how it contributes to our vision for The University of Southern Mississippi.

Hired after Todd Monken left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offensive coordinator job just before Signing Day in 2016, Hopson is 21-16 in three seasons in Hattiesburg. Southern Miss went 6-5 but did not be a bowl bid in 2018.