DHR International Lands Athletics Director for Georgia Southern University

March 11, 2020 – Executive recruitment firm DHR International has placed Jared Benko as the new director of athletics at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, GA.

Mr. Benko has more than a decade of progressive leadership experience in the Southeastern Conference (SEC). For the past four years, he has been deputy director of athletics/chief financial officer at Mississippi State University. In that role, he assisted the director of athletics with strategic planning, personnel decisions, marketing and public relations initiatives while also supervising the day-to-day operations of the athletic department and serving as the sport administrator for the football program.

“This was a highly sought-after position attracting over 100 candidates from across the nation,” said Kyle Marrero, Georgia Southern University president. “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.”

Mr. Benko will report directly to Dr. Marrero, serve as a member of the president’s cabinet and oversee 17 NCAA Division I varsity athletics programs, 15 of which compete in the Sun Belt Conference. Mr. Benko will start his new job on April 1.

An Extensive Search

“I am humbled and honored to serve the Georgia Southern University family,” said Mr. Benko. “The passion and pride of Eagle Nation is unmatched, and I am excited and deeply committed to bringing a hard-working and innovative culture to our coaches, staff and student-athletes. Thank you to president Marrero and the search committee for entrusting me with this critical leadership position. Georgia Southern’s best days are ahead and my family and I look forward to joining the Statesboro community.”

DHR International was joined in the search by Athletic Foundation Board co-chairs Anthony Tippins and Leonard Bevill. There was also a 22-person search committee that included student-athletes, supporters and university employees. In total, the search included about 100 candidates. Sixty-seven of those were diverse/minority prospects and 39 were women. The search co-chairs met with 22 candidates (eight of whom are from a minority group). Eight finalists were vetted last week.

“We are beyond excited to welcome Jared Benko to Eagle Nation as our new director of athletics,” Mr. Bevill said. “I was impressed by the amount of interest in this position and know our department is in good hands with Jared taking the reins. This process was extensive and demonstrated great collaboration between numerous individuals, and across the university and southeast Georgia. I want to thank everyone involved in this search for their valuable time and know they helped us make a great decision.”

Sports and Entertainment Expansion Elevating Search Business

Over the last quarter century, the sports sector has grown into a formidable global industry. Historically, professional sports teams operated on a relatively modest level, with league officials, team owners, managers, and coaches surrounding themselves with people they knew and trusted from their own small worlds. College sports teams relied on in-house search committees and word-of-mouth recommendations. Much of that has forever changed.

Teams with tremendous followings like the Dallas Cowboys, Real Madrid and Manchester United have seen their valuations soar into the billions of dollars. That’s attracted search firms – big time. Seasoned recruiters now provide strategic planning advice, in addition to talent identification services, with the capability of applying their findings to speed along the process in the hunt for talent. Here’s some further reading from Hunt Scanlon Media.

Prior to his tenure at Mississippi State, Mr. Benko was assistant athletic director for finance at Auburn University, where he was responsible for the daily operations of the business office from 2015 to 2016. He also spent four years in business operations at the University of Arkansas, including serving as the director of business operations from 2012 to 2015. He was promoted to that role after 16 months as the department’s business manager, which he began in 2011. Before his time at Arkansas, Mr. Benko served as assistant director of business operations the University of Georgia. Mr. Benko has a bachelor’s degree in sports studies and a master’s degree in public administration, both from the University of Georgia.

A Top Recruitment Firm

“After all of our interviews and conversations, we felt Jared Benko was the best candidate that allowed us to continue our upward trajectory in the Sun Belt Conference and nationally,” Mr. Tippins said. “I look forward to seeing what Jared will do with Georgia Southern athletics. All of Eagle Nation should be excited to welcome Jared and his family to Statesboro. The time and dedication put into this search by everyone involved are appreciated greatly.”

Mr. Benko will step into a role with high expectations to build on a Georgia Southern athletics history that includes seven national titles, 72 conference championships and 153 All-Americans. Eagle athletics involves nearly 400 student-athletes representing 11 women’s sports and six men’s sports and employs more than 100 coaches and staff members.

DHR’s sports practice is a global specialty for the firm with capabilities that serve clients on six continents across all sports-related organizations, ranging from Fortune 500 companies and professional sports teams to public and private university athletics squads. The firm has handled a number searches for schools including the University of Pittsburgh, Colorado State University, Fresno State University, San Jose State, Kansas, Syracuse and Quinnipiac University.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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